Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is clearly unhappy about the heavy sentences handed down to the Starbucks-trashers last week. Very unhappy indeed. Almost frothing you might say.
Wind her up. Here she goes:
But this week even I, even I, can see that for the British establishment Muslims are contemptible creatures, devalued humans. As I prayed before starting this column I felt tears stinging my eyes and my face was burning as if I had been slapped many times over. Do they expect me to turn the other cheek? Millions of other Muslims must have felt what I did. And some may well go on to do things they shouldn’t. Their acts will intensify anti-Muslim prejudices and will be used to justify injustice. The cycle is vicious and unrelenting.
Once again at weddings and birthday parties, in quiet, tranquil mosques, at dinner tables across the land, including those of millionaire Muslims, I am hearing murmurs of trepidation and disquiet – voices kept low, sometimes vanishing into whispers, just in case; you never know if they will break down the door. These people are, like myself, well incorporated into the nation’s busy life. Some own restaurants and businesses, others work in the City or law firms and chambers. At one gathering a frightfully posh, Muslim public school boy (aged 14), an excellent cricketer, said in his jagged, breaking voice: “I will never live in this country after finishing my education. They hate us. They’ll put us all in prison. Nothing we do is OK. Do you think I am wrong Mrs Yasmin?”
That’s funny, I was speaking to one of several Muslim lawyers I know the other day – well integrated into the nation’s life just like Yasmin’s examples above: and when we discussed the very same issue he managed to get through to the end of the conversation without choking up in impotent rage about the sentencing of rioters or informing me he’s off to join Al-Qaeda because of a television programme. But then again, he’d come to Britain from a country where people’s doors really were kicked down in the night and could tell the difference between reality and fantasy. And he wouldn’t dream about telling lies about Muslims in the national press for money either.