LONDON – Paul Ross, host of the Full Set Breakfast on Talk Radio wanted to discuss the stabbing of a Muslim man in East London, Monday afternoon.
At Forest Hill Station, the man armed with a knife steamed through passengers shouting “I want to kill a Muslim,” “go back to Syria” and “Muslims…kill them all.” Adrian Brown, who lives at a residential care facility for recovering addicts in Brockley Rise, south-east London, has been charged with attempted murder. The 38-year-old appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. Brown was also charged with possession of an offensive weapon and assault by battery.
The injured Muslim victim suffered knife wounds to his head and body and a punctured lung.
On Talk Radio, Ross began our interview expressing his feeling that any such acts are ‘unacceptable’, including the kinds of verbal and physical assaults my family and I have endured since accepting Islam.
Ross then moved to the main theme of his interview. A thread commonly heard in the mainstream British media when an attack on Muslims actually makes the news (most go unreported by victims).
“There is a sense of otherness and a sense in which people are confused about aspects of the Muslim faith. Let me give some examples…the majority of people who practice female genital mutilation are Muslims.” Said Ross.
Despite half expecting such a tone of debate, I was still disturbed that so little time was given to consider the seriousness of an event such as this. That a person should be honed in on as a potential for murder because of his faith is something that should send a shudder up the spine of any European. I forgot of course this is post-Brexit Britain.
Blaming the Victim
Ross offered that perhaps the link between Islam and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) would make individuals angry enough to lash out. Surely he wasn’t seeking to rationalize attempted murder?
Victim-blaming comes in many forms. It can be as subtle, as it is unconscious.
Cases of rape and sexual assault may be littered with tacit inferences that the woman ‘asked for it’ in her choice of clothing or because of the route she chose and the time of night she was out alone.
Perhaps Ross didn’t realize that by jumping immediately from the stabbing of a Muslim commuter to child-grooming that the public was invited to consider that, ‘Muslims live by the sword, they can die by it.’ A strange over sight if so for a broadcaster of over two decades.
There is another aspect to this willingness to paint Muslim victims as partly to blame for their own injuries; Ross knows his Talk Radio audience well. He is in tune with what they are thinking of.
Holding victims responsible for their misfortune has a darker undertone that needs consideration. In the case of Muslims in the West, the victim-blaming fad is allowing violence to become excusable and prejudice to become mainstream.
Excuse for Violence
In seeking to establish a rationale for growing violence across the UK against Muslims, Ross is far from alone. It is common place for radio and TV presenters to capture the zeitgeist with what in previous eras and aimed at other communities would be considered hateful, incendiary and distasteful comments. Their rants add fuel to the flames of hatred currently burning high.
In November 2015, controversial LBC presenter Nick Ferrari was accused by a listener of making bigoted comments during their exchange on IS.
Mahmoud, from south-west London, rang in to criticize Ferrari for suggesting the Paris massacre attacks and other incidents are a “Muslim problem.” When the caller raises the issue of questionable British foreign policy, Ferrari said:
“So you probably had sympathy with the Charlie Hebdo killings. If you don’t like it sir, go some place else.”
Radio hosts like Ross describing people as ‘confused and frightened by some aspects of the Muslim faith’ when discussing a violent attack on a Muslim is like saying, ‘some children are attractive’ when discussing child grooming. It is inappropriate at best. At worst, it raises suspicions of latent, unacceptable views.
For the record, FGM is practiced by Christians, Muslims and Animists mostly in Africa and North Africa. It is a cultural anathema, with no Islamic basis. It does not appear in the Qur’an. The Prophet Mohammad in his lifetime expressly forbade harming young girls. This ended the tribal tradition of female child murder.
Such easy assimilation of unrelated people to distant cultural practices causes a rise in extremism and offers an excuse for inter-community violence. It carries the nose wrinkling musk of religious intolerance.
Perhaps when the victim of Monday’s clearly Islamophobic attack has recovered, Paul Ross can invite him onto Talk Radio to clarify the victims way of life and personal and religious views.
If they don’t conform to Talk Radios view of Britishness he can be told that he (kind of) deserved being mutilated on public transport.