It is with a sense of anticipation I tune into Today each morning. Which of my predictions of bias will come true? Can I yet be surprised by what its production team will come up with?
It is a bit of a game. On Tuesday I scored a point and lost a point.
I did not believe that Today – or the transgender lobby for that matter – would take my co-editor’s condemnation of their child targeted transgender propaganda CBBC series Just A Girl, lying down.
They didn’t. The very next day, they came back fighting (as if to say: ‘dare protest, the more we’ll bang on about it’) with a ‘right-on’ transgender ‘victim of discrimination and hate crime’ feature.
Stephanie (formerly Simon) Hurst, who ‘transitioned from male to female’ (this is the new speak the BBC happily parroted) told us: “We are all different and that’s what makes us beautiful. It’s biological, it starts in utero”.
No I don’t think it does and nor has science isolated a confused gender gene. But did the Today team raise an eyebrow? Don’t be daft. No they were too busy reporting Hull police’s eager virtue signalling embrace of Stephanie’s ‘education’ programme.
If I was prepared for that, I was caught napping when it came to the programme’s take on the Home Affairs Select Committee enquiry into Sharia courts.
Surely they would be outraged, in true feminist fashion, about Islam’s genuinely patriarchal repression of women as exemplified in the practice of Sharia law? Silly me. Worse, far worse today than misogyny is Islamophobia.
That’s why the 100 odd Muslim women taking to Parliament to defend (yes defend) Sharia law to the HASC committee did not pose a problem to the programme at all. If you can keep up.
“There are people who are anti faith, particularly anti-Islam who are using women’s rights as a guise”, their angry spokeswoman said, a line Today happily bought into.
Off the programme obediently went to demonstrate just how family friendly Sharia courts really are. They were allowed to record one in action and a whole new picture emerged – some kindly bearded chaps speaking softly and sympathetically to a domestic violence victim.
So I’d had it all wrong. No wonder Muslim women were rising up in defence of these compassionate courts – in a sort of Islamic version of women’s liberation maybe?
Cue then the interview with the bad Baroness Cox who has manfully tried to get legislation through Parliament that would introduce jail terms for Sharia ‘scholars’ who present themselves as judges, to protect oppressed and frightened women from these men’s ‘mercy’.
She, not the courts, was the target of attack.
“How do you respond to the criticism that you are a committed Christian and in this case you are using the Sharia courts case to undermine Islam?” Nick Robinson fired at her. I felt like the MP Charles Walker who later in Parliament that day said he no longer understood the rules. Neither I imagine did the Baroness.
She gamely countered she had the support from mistreated Muslim women. I am sure she has but that was hardly the point.
The point is the underlying assumption that being a Christian (in a Christian country with an established church to boot) disqualifies you from criticising Islam. And while we can’t kick Islam for fear of offence we can kick Christianity as hard as anyone likes- as Charles Walker rightly complained.
Why then did Today not seek out a Muslim critic of Sharia – for example the widely respected expert on Sharia, Professor Elham Manea, who has spent four years speaking to clerics at sharia courts here? She’s concluded they represent ‘closed communities’, increase ‘segregation, inequality and discrimination’ and can encourage ‘political instability and home-grown terrorism’.
Instead they chose to talk to the rather less enlightened Bradford West Labour MP, Naz Shah who has managed to find her way onto the Home Affairs Select Committee despite her past blatantly anti-Semitic comments which curiously she did not see as racist; and for which of course the Labour Party has forgiven her!
What did Nick helpfully ask her but how widespread is “the fear that the enquiry (no not of the Sharia courts) is an attack on your values?”
“It has been seen as Islamophobic and racist”, Ms Shah replied though, she, her magnanimous self,was not against it provided it is ‘balanced’. Her meaning was clear. Don’t mess with me. The enquiry has to be supportive of Sharia courts from the start; nor should they be approached as a parallel legal system. The weren’t, she asserted, Sharia is simply there to support women and communities. In their very own way, one might add.
No doubt it will prove prejudiced and Islamophobic to disagree with her. What chance one wonders is there of Yvette Cooper (HASC’s new Chair) standing up to this, let alone asserting that, no, the problem is actually Islamic law itself which has become a parallel operation within a democracy that is based on one rule of law, and that is what HASC has to investigate and advise on.
Baroness Cox was crystal clear about this as have been Professor Manea and countless others. The operation of this quasi-legal system is a fundamental threat to the principle of democracy and to equality under the law.
The real question is why the British establishment has allowed this repressive jurisdiction to thrive? Why didn’t Britain draw a line in the sand over Sharia long ago?
I doubt Today will be enlightening us any time soon.
I must remember for the future.