A new era of McCarthyism

“A campaign is being orchestrated through the media to destroy the credibility of many of the most important Muslim institutions in Britain, including the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). The impact of this campaign – in the Observer and particularly in John Ware’s Panorama documentary last night – will be a powerful boost for the increasingly widespread view that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim: underneath, ‘they’ are all extremists who are racist, contemptuous of the west, and intent on a political agenda.

“A legitimate and much-needed debate among British Muslims about a distinctive expression of Islam in a non-Muslim country has been hijacked and poisonously distorted. Journalists need to be very careful: we are entering a new era of McCarthyism and, if we are not to be complicit, we need to be scrupulously responsible and conscientious in unravelling the complexity of Islam in its many spiritual and political interpretations in recent decades.”

A good, hard-hitting article by Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian, 22 August 2005

Mind you, Bunting is herself not entirely immune to conventional double standards. She criticises Iqbal Sacrani’s attendance on behalf of the MCB at a memorial service for Sheikh Yassin, the Hamas leader murdered by the Israeli government. Would she similarly criticise the Board of Deputies if they were to send a representative to, say, a future memorial service for Ariel Sharon? I rather doubt it. And, if she did, can you imagine the accusations of anti-semitism that would be screamed at her? Yet, in the course of the second Intifada, the state terrorist Sharon was responsible for killing 4,000 Palestinians, whereas the number of Israeli deaths resulting from the actions of Palestinian militants during the same period was a quarter of that figure.