From Bob's archive: Nadia Eweida and the Adams Family

I don't have any blogging time at the moment, and although I have lots of half-written posts I'm desperate to get out there, they all need too much work. So, another one from the archive. This is from November 2006, and it seemed kind of appropriate as a counterweight to the hornet's nest I stirred up by publishing Jogo's guest post this week. Some of the links are now dead, but I left most of them in because it wouldn't make sense not to. Bear in mind that government of the day was Blair's, but Cameron's government has arguably continued to stoke up anti-Muslim prejudice in much the same way.

Michelle Idrees was returning from a July 7th commemoration in Hyde Park when she was attacked by three men, the Adams Family, on a train. They called her a "f*cking Muslim slag" and a "P*ki-loving wh*re". "Mrs Idrees had travelled into London with her 15-year-old nephew, a neighbour, her wheelchair-bound partner and their two children."

The main protagonist has been jailed for 15 months. Because Mrs Idrees is white, they could not be done for a racially aggravated crime, but only for a religiously aggravated crime. I think this was racism and these men are racist pieces of scum. They had earlier called a black woman on the train a "n***er", but this is a new form of racism, not attached to skin colour but instead to culture or "religion". Some reports have described her as wearing a burkha, others as wearing a headscarf. This was surely a key feature, even though the attack pre-dated the major media feeding frenzy around veils later in the summer.

This is why I agree to some extent with those who criticise this government for creating a climate of anti-Islamic hatred. This is dangerous shit to play with. However much Islamism represents a terrible threat to our society, playing fast and lose with glib generalisations about Muslims contributes to this sort of violence.

This is not the only viscious attack on vaguely Asian or Muslim looking people recently. This horrible incident is in court now in Leeds.

Interesting that the Dhimmi-watching websites have been pretty much silent on this court case. Plenty of fascist blogs, which I'm not linking to, have actually described the Adams men as free speech heroes. Just a shade away from them you have people like this Coulterite American blogger and this Conservative Party blogger, who have celebrated the fact that Mrs Idrees now plans to leave the country.

Meanwhile, a Lib Dem councillor thinks it's OK to use the work "P*ki", claiming "only one or two people" find it offensive. "Are we going to ban 'golliwog' and 'blackboard' too?" he continued.

So, some people think that the UK and its government is creeping towards fascism, others think we are in thrall to Islam. The latter see the decision of BA to stop Nadia Eweida from wearing a crucifix at work as more example of special treatment for Muslims and other efniks, bad treatment for the white Christian majority. Her colleagues of other faiths, she says, are free to wear their "religious attire" at work.

Whatever petty-minded supervisor noticed Ms Eweida's cross and told her to take it off is a stupid, anal idiot. (Blair is right to say some battles are not worth fighting. Applies to both sides here.)

But of course Eweida does not have the right to wear a cross. For a start, unlike Orthodox Jewish men in yarmulkes or certain types of Muslim women in hijabs, Christians are not commanded by their faith to glorify Christ by displaying a cross. It is not equivalent.

And, asks Ophelia (commenting on this Times article), why should we "respect" this sort of commandment anyway?
What is this idea that people 'expect' 'respect' and that therefore everyone else 'needs' to give it to them? Why hasn't that imbecilic and tiresome idea been nipped in the bud yet? People can expect anything and everything they like; that doesn't oblige the rest of us to give it to them. I can sashay around the place announcing that I 'expect' everyone to fall down and knock their foreheads against the ground when I pass, but that doesn't oblige them to oblige, does it. Expect away, 'people of faith', I don't have to respect you unless you do something I consider respect-worthy. So get busy.
And now fucking Jack Straw has weighed in supporting her (giving grist to the mill of those who think Blair's government is at war with Islam...)

And it looks like BA might give in too, as the Church of England has a lot of financial clout. (See this Christian blogger, who notes that when God fails try Mammon.)

Blog link: Oh, Nadia, Shut Up


skidmarx said…
Not the Adams family?
jogo said…
Bob, are u saying that the legal right to wear a religious symbol should be based on whether God commanded it?

So you don't have a right to wear a tiny cross because God didn't command it ... but you have the right to wear a yarmulka or a veil because God did command it?

In the US, people wear crosses and other religious pendants all the time. Nobody is freaked out because a stewardess or waitress is wearing a cross on a necklace.

What is you people's problem with this?
bob said…
Good question, raised by my clumsy wording. No I don't think that the right to wear something should be based on whether your God commanded it. But if the right to wear religious symbols there is a right to have one's religion respected than it matters whether your religion requires you to wear them or not? That is, a Christian's right to wear a cross is not structurally the same as an Orthodox Jew's right to wear a kippah or a Sikh's right to wear a turban. If you banned wearing turbans, you'd be banning Sikh men full stop, whereas banning crosses does not ban Christians. That's all I meant in that paragraph.

I have absolutely no problem with people wearing crosses, and I think anyone who does have a problem with it is, as I said petty-minded, stupid and anal. But at the same time, I don't think we have a "right" to wear them, beyond the right we have to wear whatever the fuck we like, a right manifestly not accorded to people in their jobs, least of all air stewardesses.

Does that make sense?

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