An opportunity Bungled

Inyat Bunglawala manages to bungle yet another opportunity to place himself as the honest broker of community relations.

While other Muslim faith leaders in the area produced an unequivocal statement condemning the attack by Asian youths on Michael Ainsworth, a Christian priest on the grounds of his church, leaving him bruised and battered, ‘Bungle’ indulged in a hypocritical shift of emphasis on CiF.

In spite of the fact that anti-Christian epithets were hurled at the priest during the attack, according to Inyat, this doesn’t necessarily make it a faith-hate crime.

Now, of course he may be right, but I suspect not. Perhaps he hasn’t heard the expression ‘veritas in vino”. Alcohol doesn’t change people’s views or beliefs, it simply lifts the inhibitions that restrain the sober from expressing them in a social context.

But be this as it may, his biggest offence is the rank hypocrisy. I don’t think there’s a single person, who believes that Inyat Bunglawala would, had the case been of white skinheads beating a imam, said something like “Maybe it wasn’t Islamophobia, perhaps they were just drunk.”

Well, perhaps Bob Pitt does.

But then Pitt agrees with Bunglawala that the issue isn’t really about the assault on the priest but, as the tagline to Bungle’s Cif piece says “An alcohol-fuelled attack on a Christian priest in east London has stirred up more Islamophobia”.

So, a Christian priest gets his head kicked in by Muslim youths, and we the public are instructed that the real victims are Muslims and the real issue is Islamophobia.

Perhaps he wonders why he and the MCB seem less and less relevant, and more and more like special interest advocates.

The danger here, of course, is that some people start to think that ‘two can play this game’ and before we can say ‘jackboot’ the BNP have more votes. I’ve said it before, but communalist politics will let us down. We have to stop listening to those who sing the lullabies as we – in Trevor Phillip’s words – “sleepwalk towards segregation“.

Tribalism starts with amplifying the your grievances against ‘the other’ while minimising the transgressions of ‘your own’. Responsible politicians and civic leaders should avoid this. Building a unified country will fail unless we reject it.

Bunglawala should have simply said “this is an appalling thing and everyone is disgusted”. Full stop.