The seven convicted men in the Oxford grooming case were identified by their ethnicity. In contrast, similar cases involving white men are rarely scrutinised along the same line, provided the case is given any media coverage in the first place. This sends out a crude racist message: when white men rape white girls it’s bad, but when non-white Pakistani men do it, it is so bad that it becomes unbearable to remain politically correct, and their ethnicity is identified. What is the difference between the discrimination of racially segregated America in the 1800s and the attitude towards Pakistani men in the united kingdom of 2013? Naturally, the discussion that ensued from the media headlines is how the ethnic mindset is shaped by their religion and culture; the driving force behind the crime. Alternatively the media could have simply treated the case as it is, a group of criminal men acting on opportunities and exploiting vulnerable young girls. This is a clear example of how the main media is stoking Islamophobic culture as the norm which the far right amplifies using vulgar and crude language.
This racist message endorses the narrative of the far right who are busy demonising the entire Muslim community as paedophiles, and they resort to the usual slur of citing the lone example of the Prophet’s marriage to young Ayesha. The next morning as I was driving to work, listening to the callers on LBC, they all claimed the Quran directs Muslim men to take non-Muslim women as fair game. One would think that they had actually studied the Quran and Islamic law; this type of response shows the success of disseminating Islamophobic materials by the media. Even the host (Nick Ferrari) made the point, these criminals were not devout Muslims, and thus there are no grounds to bring religion into the discussion. Therefore, it must be a cultural disposition, although, the problem with this conclusion is that the culture of the Pakistani men is largely shaped by religion.
Why cite their ethnicity in the first place? Surely, these men are a product of our society. Moreover, they were using alcohol, drugs and having extra marital sex, these activities conform to the liberal British values and run contrary to their ethnic Pakistani culture that is shaped by Islam. Yet, suddenly, these seven men were conveniently not British but of Pakistani and Somali origin. Had these men won gold medals like Amir Khan or Mo Farah (instead of street grooming), their ethnicity would have vanished and the media would have portrayed them as model British citizens.
Through sensationalised news headlines, the media created the false impression that Pakistani men are predominantly involved in such crimes, and it is representative of the ethnic culture and mindset, hence the community is responsible.
The only way the media could make its case was by ignoring the actual crime and focus on the model of exploitation which is specific to the street groomers of Pakistani origin; thus, giving justification to the headlines inferring that Pakistani men are highly represented in such crimes. The crime is not in grooming, there is no law against establishing a relationship with a girl by giving her various gifts. It was the subsequent events of raping, injecting drugs, and prostituting the girls by force that transgressed the law. Such crimes can take place in various ways, one of which is street grooming. Indeed, is the rape of a girl via street grooming any worse than one raped at a Children’s home, on the BBC premises or in the care of a Catholic convent? Young girls could be molested in schools, their family homes, children’s homes or by celebrities such as Jimmy Savile and now with Stuart Hall, where ethnicity, culture and religion conveniently played no role.
In terms of rape, prostitution, and drugs, it is well-known that the majority of the criminals are white, as one would expect being the dominant community. The statistics show that Asian men are not disproportionately represented. Nor are the men representative of the entire Pakistani community, in fact they are a very tiny group; A group of criminals such as this exist in all ethnic groups. But subsequent explanation hardly mitigates the initial damage done, the media managed to tarnish the entire community by playing with figures. If we talk of real paedophilia involving child porn and it even includes babies on the international circuit, the majority of the culprits are white. The same argument goes for serial killers.
It is not enough for non-Muslim white pundits to make the case, they needed someone from within. Hence, they roll out the usual suspects; one of them is the so-called self-appointed Imam, Taj Hargey, until he was paraded in front of the media as an ‘expert’, nobody from the community really knew of his existence. Apart from his unorthodox and offensive views on Islam, he excels the hostile Islamophobic media, like the coolies of the British Raj he is always ready to carry the media-luggage, no wonder the Daily Mail rush to publish his baseless claims, which is: the Pakistani Muslim men view white women as cheap and thus fair game for exploitation, this happens because they are being taught this in the Mosque by the Imams.
Can anyone furnish one such lecture given by the Imams in our Mosques? Anyone with a basic knowledge of Islam knows that illicit drugs, non-consensual sex (rape) and even consensual sex (i.e. adultery and fornication) are clearly forbidden. If you want to witness such things, go to the pubs and clubs, not the Mosques! In fact, the verse in the Quran associated with forbidding these sins also refers to lowering one’s visual gaze towards the opposite sex, and not just physical contact; prevention is better than cure. The verse does not only refer to the gaze upon Muslim women by Muslim men and that would not make sense, as one can get aroused by women of any ethnicity. If we are ordered to observe this level of modesty, how can one say illegitimate sexual intercourse outside the fold of marriage is endorsed?
We have attended many mosques, and have never heard anything remotely close to what this slanderous Taj Hargey is blurting out to the media like an obedient Coolie Imam; I assume he needs the funding to continue in times of austerity. Likewise, he has no following in our community, an unknown quantity until he was paraded in front of the media, which can easily manufacture ‘Imams’ and personalities as representative of Islam or Muslims.
The media portrayal has also created the impression that Pakistani men are sexually repressed; they cannot gain easy access to Muslim women, and living in a sexually charged liberal society they prey on the abundant supply of available white women. On the LBC, callers were phoning up with tales of individual experience to tarnish the general community, and I guess the implication here is white men are upright walking saints. Men in general are predatory, that is their sexual role, they are the hunters across the animal kingdom and they would see any women that appeal to their eyes as a potential catch, especially one giving off certain signals – but regardless of how the women or girls are behaving, biology has nothing to do with ethnicity. Does anyone seriously suggest that the Oxford groomer would have turned down non-white women if the opportunity arose?
Yamin Zakaria (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published on 20/05/2013