So the schools report is out and the usual stream of blames and counter blames is doing the round of the airways. Listening to the phone ins this morning on Fivelive and the BBC’s Asian network, it emerged that it is one branch of Islam which is dominant in one school and the others are up in arms about it.
This was clear in the Asian network’s phone in, the Fivelive presenter was on the softly softly approach,not mentioning the word Islam,and the sect being at the root of the problem.
How very BBC! I had an experience over the weekend which made me think hard ,as to how much more annoying these things will be for me,if I was a White / European person.
I have been involved with the local BBC for many years, am a guest at least once a month on their talk show on a Saturday morning when we discuss current affairs, review the newspapers ,and often am asked for my opinion on various things for what it is worth!
SO another BBC station was doing an outside broadcast form my town and my name was given to the that producer as someone who might be suitable.They were doing a programme from a mosque in our town.
A mosque? I didn’t know we had one. Obviously we have one,or rather they have clubbed together and bought an old health authority building and they hold prayer meetings there. And as the radio station has done a show from the other places of worship of every religion in every area,this was the turn of our local mosque.
I had no idea what and how the show will be,when asked about ideas, I suggested how about “women in Islam”?
Oh ,said the producer, a very good idea. We will ask the mosque to produce at least one woman for the show’.
So I asked all the educated ,professional Muslim women in the area, if anyone was interested or had any opinion about the lack of Muslim women in many spheres of life?
Nope, they didn’t want to know. Err,I said; why you ladies don’t participate in any community life? Do voluntary work etc;? Nope, there was a deafening silence.
So the weekend arrived and the producer said that there was not going to be a woman put forward from the mosque and they are not too keen to discuss women. I was not going to be dictated by anyone as to what I wanted to say. Would I know someone who will be willing to come with me? Asked the producer.Nope, the so called educated women,agree with the issue of oppression,but not one of them was going to stand and be counted or say anything.
So the producer then asked me, how will they introduce me? Am a non practicing Muslim, said I. Oh we can’t say that,says the producer,we will say you are a “liberal Muslim’! Why?
So yesterday evening I turned up, a solo woman in western dress, in a room full of traditionally dressed , bearded men. Quite intimidating, but I held my nerve,and said my piece. I declared myself as a non practicing Muslim, though the presenter stuck to the word “liberal”.He asked me probing questions ,as to why am I non practicing, why don’t I go the mosque and why don’t I cover myself like others? Explaining that i was brought up not to follow a doctrine and make up my own mind,was not quite the answer they expected ,but that is what they got!
I also said that women were oppressed in Islam, why don’t we see more of them in any sphere of life at least in the south west? Or even men for that reason.
The moral of the story is that various organisations including the OFSTED , the BBC, the police and various government bodies are so “considerate” that they are almost cowed.Respecting sensibilities is one thing and agreeing to any demand is another.
So there is DEFINITELY segregation, women ARE oppressed and there is a parallel culture which doesn’t recognise or accept the values of the country they are living in.
So unless and until everyone accepts and recognises this and works with the premiss that there are values and norms which should be universal ,none of these problems will diminish.And governments and various organisation should be the first to follow it.