Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Islamophobia

December 14, 2022 • 9:15 am

Today’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “scores,” came with this note:

From this dreadful article in The Guardian.

The Guardian article, by Suriyah Bi, links to her work compiling an “Index of Islamophobia,” in which one can give numerical scores to the types and severity of anti-Muslim actions, which includes not just physical violence or harassment (rightly regarded as legally intolerable bigotry), but also verbal and pictorial mockery of Muslims and Islam that would be legal in America. The index is intended as a guide for how judges would punish transgressors. An excerpt:

How might it work? Let’s look at some flagrant examples of Islamophobia, including Boris Johnson’s infamous comments on burqa-wearing Muslim women as “letterboxes”, the distribution of violence-inducing “Punish a Muslim Day” letters, a headscarf being torn from a Muslim woman, and being called Shamima Begum in the workplace.

With reference to Johnson’s comments, his then position as foreign secretary contributed to a score of 10 in the recklessness category. A score of 10 was also applied in the impact category, as the comments reportedly orchestrated a 375% rise in Islamophobic attacks against Muslim women in the UK. Intensity and intention were scored at a seven and eight respectively, resulting in a total index score of 35. As a legal case before a judge, the high index score would place squarely at the heart of the prosecution process the human impact of Johnson’s comments, compelling an appropriate sentence.

If we consider being called Shamima Begum in the workplace – an experience several Muslim women have shared with me – a score of seven was applied across the four sub-categories. An index score of 28 would enable a judge to situate the incident on the scale of severity, thus handing down a lesser but appropriate sentence to, for example, the Johnson case.

Note that even the “letterbox” statement, which is tasteless, is considered legally punishable.  It goes on:

My proposed form therefore allows for victims and police professionals to identify the laws that have been breached for any and all cases of Islamophobia. A completed index and pathways to prosecution form would help judges to contextualise the incidents from the experience of the victim.

But there is more that must be done if the courts are to be equipped to bear down on Islamophobia. The Equality Act 2010 must be updated to criminalise its deliberate deployment in print and media. There should also be a specific offence of Islamophobia in the legal landscape. The Crown Prosecution Service must urgently define “hostility” in order to bring incidents of Islamophobia (and other religious hate crimes) to justice. Reviews are also needed to update the Public Order Act 1986 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

I’m not sure what the Equality Act of 2010 states specifically, but I don’t think it covers hate crimes so much as discrimination.  At least Bi has the decency to lump “other religious hate crimes” along with Islamophobia, but, as Jesus points out, Muslims are guilty of Jew-hatred all the time.

12 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Islamophobia

  1. How high does “Jesus and Mo” score? Is it a cumulative score, or does each cartoon get a separate rating? Is there an on-line leaderboard we can consult?

  2. “Tasteless” is in the eyes of the beholder. I find the “letterbox” epithet quite funny….it mocks the evil habit of Muslims to imprison and degrade women, a far worse insult when you get down to it. A burqa with a thin slot at the top to let air in is pretty offensive. I cant find a better way of describing it than “letterbox”. Here’s to “tasteless” humor. The more of it the better. The more we worry about
    “hurt feelings” and “offensive” language the more we risk ideological control of our speech and freedom. Let’s hear it for wonderful ethnic jokes…..they undoubtedly have a two thousand year history…..you can probably find some in Pompeii, making fun of Greeks no doubt.

    1. you can probably find some in Pompeii, making fun of Greeks no doubt.

      Or, unearthed tomorrow from layers of ash, a graffiti (“graffitum” surely?) translating to “Romanes eunt Domus“, but in Ancient Greek.
      (The region of Napoli, including Pompeii, was a Greek “colony” before the Romans drained the Tiberian Swamp and called it a forum.)

    2. Agreed. It’s also worth pointing out (and is often forgotten) that Boris’s intent in that article was to defend the right of religious people to wear such clothing, despite it being (to him) ridiculous.

      It was thus a classical liberal, Voltaire-esque sentiment of defending their rights to do things that he disapproved of. Hence, the logic of the argument required that he express mild disapproval and ridicule. “Letterbox” was spot on.

      It is appalling that the Guardian would publish such an illiberal and authoritarian article. I note that they didn’t enable comments on it; they’d have been savaged by their own readership.

    3. Exactly. Just as we lampoon, gleefully, people who think that the world is 6,000 years old, or that Elvis is still alive, or that Joseph Smith translated golden plates he received from an angel, or (your favorite conspiracy theory here), so we *ought* to make fun of excesses such as an entire culture dressing their women in bags. Not tasteless; rather necessary.

  3. I’ve come to the conclusion that any bias termed a “-phobia” in the current era would better be stated as something else.

    Homophobia does have valid roots, the notion that some people fear whatever aspects of their internal selves might be “gay,” and project/overreact by being bigots toward gay people.

    But better to say, anti-gay/homosexual bias. Or anti-trans bias. Etc.

    Ditto for Islamophobia. Criticizing this noxious religion (calm down; all the others suck, too) is not based on “fear,” but often, on rational evaluation of its tenets.

    True anti-Muslim bigotry should be called just that.

    1. When we look at what happens to women in Iran who fail to wear the religiously mandated garments, it seems like there is plenty of reason to fear Islam – or at least to fear Islamic religionists who wield any form of power.

  4. I’m not sure what the Equality Act of 2010 states specifically, but I don’t think it covers hate crimes so much as discrimination.

    You’re absolutely right – the EqA simply brought together existing anti-discrimination legislation (and added to it) in a single law by setting out nine protected characteristics that you can’t discriminate against. (These are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.)

    The so-called hate crime legislation is separate (the Sentencing Act 2020 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998) and only applies when another law has been broken (such as assault, harassment, and some public order offences). If there was a hate element behind the crime (e.g., an assault was racially or religiously motivated), the judge can take this into account and increase the punishment when passing sentence.

    Nevertheless, some police forces have been going beyond the law and recording “non-crime hate incidents” against people who have not broken the law. Former police officer Harry Miller, who founded the campaign group Fair Cop, successfully challenged this in court and the College of Policing has rewritten its guidance although this still hasn’t completely solved the problem. Some trans rights activists use self-reported incidents of alleged transphobia to get the police to harass anyone who says something they don’t agree with. Too many examples to list, but in one recent incident the campaigner Kelly-Jay Keen (aka Posy Parker) was warned about “being untoward about paedophiles”!)

    1. I notice that Class is not one of the protected characteristics.

      Lucky for the middle-class pseudo-left, or nearly all of them would be in jail by now.

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