Former Tory chair condemns a right-wing columnist’s ‘bigoted’ article that calls Islamophobia ‘bogus’

Sayeeda Warsi and Melanie Phillips
Tracy Keeling

Ex-Conservative chair Sayeeda Warsi has condemned an article by Times columnist Melanie Phillips. Warsi urged Jewish people in Britain to join her in criticising the piece, which featured in the Jewish Chronicle. The former Tory chair said she was saddened by what she called the “bigotry” and “rank hypocrisy” in the article, asking where is the “solidarity”.

Islamophobia is a myth?

Warsi – who has been at the forefront of trying to get the Conservative Party to take action against Islamophobia in its own ranks – tweeted her response to Phillips and the Jewish Chronicle:

 

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.




The article in question is headlined: Don’t fall for bogus claims of ‘Islamophobia’. In it, Phillips trashes the idea that Islamophobia is widespread or, indeed, even exists. She writes:

“Islamophobia” was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood to mimic antisemitism, the concept which these Islamists falsely believe immunises Jews from criticism — itself an antisemitic belief.

Islamophobia, which means anti-Muslim racism, wasn’t “invented” in the 20th Century. The use of that terminology may well have been but the prejudice was, for example, alive and kicking during the Crusades, in which Christians persecuted both Muslims and Jewish people. And that anti-Muslim racism predated the Muslim Brotherhood by about 900 years. Meanwhile, the prejudice is an increasingly big problem in Britain today. 47% of all religious hate crimes offences recorded by the police in 2018/19 targeted Muslims.

Phillips does concede that people should condemn “true prejudice against Muslims” but clearly, in her mind, ‘Islamophobia’ doesn’t fit the bill of actual prejudice.

Blame

Furthermore, she argues that this belief in “bogus” Islamophobia is one of the reasons why people don’t “grasp the full dimensions” of the “onslaught” of prejudice faced by Jewish people in Britain. That onslaught is also sadly evident, with 18% of all religious hate crimes recorded by the police in 2018/19 targeting Jewish people.

Clearly, both prejudices, antisemitism and Islamophobia, exist in Britain. And people should condemn and stamp out both. But Phillips effectively argues that, not only does one of them not really exist, but people’s belief in it is undermining acceptance of the true scale of the other.

Meanwhile, her evidence for the scale of antisemitism in the UK rests on the notion that criticism of Israel is antisemitic in itself. She asserts that the distinction between “loathsome prejudice against Jews” and “Israel-bashing” is “bogus”. Phillips brands Palestinians who are suffering under the Israeli military occupation and “Muslim society in general” as ‘Jew-haters’ within this logic.

Solidarity

Everyone, not just Warsi, should be “saddened” by Phillips’ article and the Jewish Chronicle‘s decision to publish it. Because it’s a grim statement on where public discourse in the UK currently is. She’s essentially arguing that people have to pick a side: you’re either with Jewish people or with Muslims. You’re either with the Palestinians or with Jewish people, who she uses as shorthand for the Israeli state (in itself an antisemitic trope).

Warsi asks ‘where is the solidarity’? It’s certainly not present in Phillips’ article. But it is seen across Britain among the millions of people who refuse to be divided in this way. People who will stand together with people of all faiths and none against violence, discrimination, and oppression.

Featured image via YouTube – Owen Jones / YouTube – John Anderson

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support
  • Show Comments
    1. Its the oldest sleight-of-hand: to accuse your enemy of what you are guilty of. As Noam Comsky has recently remarked: “Why should Jewish groups be immune from criticism, alone in the world.” The notion that any criticism of the State of Israel or Zionism is antisemitic, is an assertion of precisely the exemption Chomsky spikes. Philips refuses to see that hatred is one thing and rational criticism based on evidence another. Ilan Pappe is a consistent critic of Israel and of Zionism. Is he antisemitic? The accusation is too absurd to be considered. To hate people because of their faith or ethnicity is irrational and vile; but so too is to assert that you are beyond criticism. That irrational hatred of Muslims exists in Britain is attested by serious evidence. Hatred of Jews too. Hatred of homosexuals, the disabled, transgender people. It’s the hatred that’s wrong. There is always room for rational criticism and argument, but hatred is a dead-end.

      1. ‘As Noam Comsky [sic] has recently remarked: “Why should Jewish groups be immune from criticism, alone in the world. [sic]”‘

        When and where did Chomsky say that?

    2. We live in a culture which has painted a world in which there are only “Victims” and “Perpetrators”. Victims, by definition, cannot be perpetrators, and perpetrators, by definition, cannot be victims.

      Since Jews in this simplistic moral picture are identified as victims, they cannot be perpetrators; by the same token, since Moslems have been identified as perpetrators, they can never be victims.

      The reality is that both “Good” and “Bad” people are fully capable of doing terrible things, and can also be subject to injustices that they have not merited.

      It’s time to ditch the whole “victim/perpetrator” culture and to judge people by their individual actions rather than merely by association.

      1. I think the biggest Problem humans have is that they believe we are something Special, Something Divine! We’re NOT! We are Apes, we walked out into the Grasslands in search of food and shelter! Started walking on two legs to see over the Tall Grass, met and suffered from Many New Predators, so quickly developed extra sounds to identify the Different Beasts, then followed Speech then thought, as we needed to visualise the beast to name it and know it among our Comrades. That eliminates Special. ALL we are, is a Self Preserved Protein Meal for something Bigger, Faster and Smarter! Nothing More and Nothing Less, OH! and we can speak and think (Not Necessarily the Greatest Evolutionary development!) 🙂
        We live on a tiny speck of dust, somewhere on the edge of the universe a thing so vast no human can begin to comprehend, because we don’t even know if our universe is a “tiny thing” akin to our Galaxy in a Vast Space of Universes, within Something Even Bigger Again!
        So that throws the Divine theory out the window!
        Anyhow I just think we need to STOP the world for a week or so and work out a Plan of Simplification! We NEED to Simplify EVERYTHING!
        I think Marx tried to do that with the Communist Manifesto ALL those years ago, imagine if he came back to today, I think it would fry the Dear Man’s Brains!

    3. UGH! When did that vile Racist Bitch crawl back from under her Rock!
      Islamophobia is as Relevant or Irrelevant as Antisemitism!
      They are BOTH Racism! There are NO SPECIAL PEOPLE on this Planet who deserve any form of preferential Treatment to ANY others! We are ALL EQUAL!
      It is HIGH time the term antisemitism gets scrapped and like every other person on this planet who suffers racism we name ALL FORMS of Racism RACISM! If we had a Definition of Racism for EVERY Race, Nation, Religion on earth we would spend our entire life just to read it nevermind Study or Learn it! Much worse it would cause Segregation, but then I guess SOME would be in favour of that! There is not a Man, Woman or Child who does not know what Racism is, and spot that it is wrong!
      Antisemitism is only Antisemitism when it is USEFUL TO the Zionists! For Example Zionist JK Rowling is okay to make BANKER Characters, of whom many have a Striking Resemblance to Ben Gurion! THAT is NOT ANTISEMITISM Apparently! The CAA Naming Anti-Zionist Antisemitism in their Last YouGov Report, it is NOT ANTISEMITISM to Conflate Jews with Zionism, Apparently! Jeremy Corbyn Sneezes in an Easterly Direction on a Moonlit Tuesday Evening AND THAT is antisemitism!
      The Sickening Abuse of Antisemitism, we’ve seen over the past 5 years is Obscene and Abhorrent! How ANYONE could be SO GODDAMNED Callous about the 17 Million People (5/6 Million Jews and 11/12 Million NON Jews) Murdered in Nazi Camps REALLY is Sick!
      And then for THAT woman to try and tell a Muslim whose People has seen 10 times +++ as much Abuse, over the Same 5 Years, without Antagonising, Lying and Smearing Anyone is Despicable!
      IF We MUST have Antisemitism then SO TOO MUST we have Islamophobia! It is Perfectly CLEAR from what we’ve ALL seen over the Past 5 Years that there is a Massive Fraction of Zionists who are Far Right Abusive Islamophobic Thugs! Tommy Robinson, Katie Whatever, BREITBART Need I say MORE!
      To me this smells like Motive!

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.