Thursday, 10 March 2011

Twisted Poppy Burner

Although we are perceived to have a rather stoic and reserved personality overseas (except for club 18-30 holidays), sometimes an event occurs in Britain which causes mass hysteria within the public. The average member of the public will go, as the experts call it, “snooker loopy” at the mention of war heroes being defiled, paedophiles, suicide bombers, benefit cheats, and of course Princess Diana. Whilst all those things are undoubtedly awful, it seems that Britain is just lurching from one national outcry to the next, as the latest topic of poppy burning proved yesterday.

As of the 8th of March, most tabloids ran with a headline along the lines of “SICKO POPPY BURNING MUSLIM CLAIMS BENEFITS”. As expected, this boils down to another symptom of Great British Outrage, one which happens to tick all the boxes on The Daily Mail’s official list of things to hate. The man in question is Emdadur Choudhury, a protestor with the Muslims Against Crusades.

There’s no doubt that this action was ultimately idiotic, but these headlines fail to hit the real crux of the problem for me.

At the risk of sounding like a sympathiser for vehement extremists (coincidentally, why isn’t there a term for people who are only mildly in support, such as a laid-backist?), why are the papers focussing so much on his religion? Is the fact that he’s a Muslim on benefits the real problem with this? I don’t understand why his religion is such a big identifier when he’s found guilty of a crime. Surely if this was the case, we’d see such headlines as “BAPTIST RAPIST RAVAGES WYCOMBE WOMAN”, or “PAEDO JOVO RAIDS DOLE OFFICE”. Never before has a person’s Christianity been at the forefront of one of these headlines, so I fail to see why the fact that he’s a Muslim is bought up on the front page.

In reality, the main problem with his action of burning poppies is that poppies are the British Legion’s icon of remembrance. That is, the remembrance for the fallen soldiers of the 1st and 2nd World War. Muslims Against Crusades are supposed to be protesting against the current foreign policy towards the Middle East, and the wars fought/still being fought there, so by burning poppies he’s actually missed the point his group were trying to make. This proves without a doubt that Emdadur Choudhury is a gigantic spong.

But of course, the red tops won’t pick up on this, and instead will use this for their hateful agenda. By marrying the word Muslim with a criminal act, they are trying to create an association that simply isn’t there. Muslims, by definition, are not dole cheats who spend all of their benefit money on poppies, creosote and matches. It’s the same tactic they used to create the equation Beard + Dark Skin = Explosion, and one of the main reasons why opinion polls regarding immigration are generally negative towards it. The more you demonise these people, the more monstrous they will appear.

My point being that in order to beat zealous extremism, the best tool we have is a sharp one that is still in possession by many of us across the world; wit. Pick holes in these people’s views. Point out how ridiculous they are. Make their cause seem less terrifying and more hilarious. Across the board, fanatics of any group will soon become less fanatical once they realise that they aren’t getting the desired results; shock and outrage. You can’t have terrorism without the terror.