With Islamophobia being in the newspapers on almost a daily basis, Sayeeda Warsi's speech at Leicester University has resulted in providing more fuel to the media as well as questions about David Cameron's choice of Cabinet Minister for his new government.
Sayeeda Warsi has been lauded for becoming the first British Muslim Cabinet Minister. Since her appointment in government she has been fairly outspoken about the place of religion in politics. Whilst her past attempts have appeared to be bold, this seems to have been her most brazen attempt at trying to bring the recently bigoted attitude of everyday British people to the fore.
As a British Muslim myself, I'm not quite sure what to make of her speech. Naturally, newspapers have pulled everything out of context and I, for one, am not surprised. However, I was incredibly perplexed to see a blog article by one of Britain's right-wing newspapers, The Telegraph, actually praising her for her speech. Bear in mind that The Telegraph is not known to be the most Muslim-friendly newspaper. In fact I have found it to be anything but friendly towards Muslims, and usually one of the first newspapers at the newsagent's to have some sort of shock-inducing, Muslim-related headline.
Warsi's speech can be read in full at her website, and of course she makes some very good points. I agree that I have seen a slow progression of a bigoted attitude towards Muslims. I remember once collecting for Charity Week with another sister a few years ago at university and observing the countenance of a woman as she walked pass reading my t-shirt. As soon as she saw the word 'Islamic', the expression on her face turned into one of horror and disgust as she walked away from us even faster than she was at the time. Whenever I look back on that, I think about WHY she did that. Conspiracy theories aside, events such 9/11, 7/7 and other incidents have not helped the situation. But I have observed the declining change in British attitudes towards Muslims over the past 10 years and I hold the media's constant scrutiny of us, accountable.
The latter part of the Telegraph's blog article by Peter Oborne only proves that gross distortion of minor incidents have not just pulled the actions of Muslims completely out of context, but also displays the depths to which the media stoops to get a 'scoop'. The mention of politically correct journalists being proud to be 'Islamophobic' is, at the very least, abhorrent and at its worst, reminiscent of Nazism. And we all know what that leads to.
I'm disappointed that in Sayeeda Warsi speaking the truth in such a bold way has resulted in a negative reaction, but then I'm not surprised. History has proven to us that those who speak home truths against oppression, no matter how harsh they may be, will always be heavily scrutinised. However, these same people tend to leave a legacy behind. I do not doubt Sayeeda's intentions, but it could be that her desire to create a change may result in daring actions and subsequently, a desire to leave behind a legacy. And is there anything wrong with that? I just hope that her potential desire doesn't lead to potentially disastrous and reckless actions in the future.
Coming back to Sayeeda Warsi's speech, I am not here to judge her actions as a Muslim, but as a politician whose speech could impact my life and the lives of those around me, both Muslim and non-Muslim. At best, I hope that most people will take the time out to read her speech in full and take her words on board, but I also know that, realistically, few people will do that and will prefer to live in their bigoted, Islamophobically-charged lives, reading the Daily Mail and The Telegraph. After all, who really wants to think for themselves when the media is doing it for them?