The other night I did something I rarely do these days, I switched on Newsnight on BBC 2. After the first ever UK interview of General Tommy Franks (available on their website) they switched to cover a story about an anonymous writer with the pseudonym ‘Will Cummins’. Because I thought his name was spelt “Will Cummings” I initially struggled to find much in google about all this. The story is an interesting one though, not taken up much by blogs as of yet.
It seems that Will Cummins feels the need to hide behind a fake name in order to “speak out” about Islam. His first article begins innocently enough by attacking the Archbishop of Canterbury- after all the C of E are used to being attacked.
Rowan Williams is criticized for implying that Islam is “just like Anglican Christianity or Reform Judaism, that it shares their fundamental hostility to imperialism and misrule, and would feel the same shame that “we” do, were it held responsible for prisons like Abu Ghraib, or human tragedies like the plight of the Palestinians.”
He goes on to describe his view of Muslim and Christian ‘shared history’ :
“Christian Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Anatolia, Spain, the Balkans, the Maghreb and Sicily, as well as Buddhist central Asia, Zoroastrian Iran and Hindu India, all became “Muslim” by virtue of naked imperialism. The indigenous non-Muslims were either exterminated (the fate of the Christians of North Africa), or reduced to the status of third-class citizens in their own countries, their fate to this day.
The Crusades – for which the Pope has apologised to Islam (he did so again last week), rather as an old lady might apologise to a mugger for trying to retrieve her purse – were simply an attempt by medieval Christians to get their homelands back. “
The article concludes by describing the Muslim immigrants to Europe as those who “have fled to a thriving Christendom from the failure and horror of the Muslim world.”
His second article states “three of the four schools of Islamic law enjoin faithful Muslims to murder anyone who wishes to leave the faith” and goes on to argue for the need to protect the right to criticise strongly Muslims like Dr al-Qaradawi for allegedly holding extremist beliefs.
He then goes on in a third article to raise fears that the goal of Muslims is to take over the West as follows:-
A famous “moderate”, Dr Zaki Badawi, the Egyptian director of the Muslim College in Ealing, has written: “Islam endeavours to expand in Britain . . . It hopes that one day the whole of mankind will be one Muslim community, the Umma…..
He later alleges an anonymous Muslim said ‘Because of our religion, we will invade you; because of your democracy, we will destroy you.’
He is willing to admit of Muslims in the UK “All but an infinitesimal minority of our Muslims are peaceable and law abiding.” but then quickly delivers one of the comments that has earned a lot of criticism “It is the black heart of Islam, not its black face, to which millions object.”
Just in case we hadn’t been listening the final article is entitled “Muslims are a threat to our way of life” and states “All Muslims, like all dogs, share certain characteristics. A dog is not the same animal as a cat just because both species are comprised of different breeds. An extreme Christian believes that the Garden of Eden really existed; an extreme Muslim flies planes into buildings – there’s a big difference.”To liken Muslims to dogs even whilst likening Christians to cats is unhelpful in the extreme- not surprisingly Muslims have found that offensive. Indeed much of what Cummins has written is quite clearly designed to cause offense to even the most moderate of Muslims. Indeed a letter to the Telegraph describes Cummins’ writings as “vitriolic xenophobia….. unbridled bigotry… uninformed” whilst stating true Islam is about “peace, compassion, mercy, tolerance and justice for all.”
Clearly, as Jenny McCartney has pointed out “The distinction between attacking a belief-system and its believers is important.” Indeed. The biggest mistake that any of us can make- especially at the moment- is to brand someone our enemy for false reasons. Once you brand an entire group as ‘enemies’ then you encourage them to act in the very way you are now expecting them to act.
As another Guardian writer puts it in a call for us to be more concerned about the plight of many of the West’s Muslims “We could start by not treating Muslims as one reactionary, superstitious mass.”
We must have evidence before we decide that someone is guilty of any crime. That is supposed to be a British value, and is one that is worryingly absent when it comes to some peoples attitudes towards Muslims at the moment. Fortunately the vast majority of Muslims are not aligned to Osama, many of them simply want to live a peaceful life in our secularised society. As Anas Altikriti said in a Guardian piece “The attempt to force the overwhelming majority of moderate Muslims into the tiny space occupied by the minority extremist element is nothing short of wicked.”
Another Guardian comment argues
Islamophobia is the only form of prejudice to which the middle class can readily admit: a religion which is perceived as advocating repression of women and hatred of gays renders acceptable forms of prejudice that would be unthinkable if directed against any other social group.
We must learn the ability to disagree with philosophy (as well as finding common cause where possible) without branding all adherents of a philosophy we don’t like as being potential suicide bombers. It is vital to recognize that Islam like Christianity does have considerable variation within it- there are different ‘shades’ as it were.
But there is another twist to this tail Ironically, possibly for no other reason than the similarity of his name one Harry Cummins has been accused of being Will Cummins and suspended from the British Council amid calls for his resignation from organizations like Aljazeerah before we know for sure it was him who wrote these articles. Harry is accused, judged and found guilty before the investigation is complete.
Many Muslims may feel that Harry’s plight is analogous to theirs. Certainly there have been several hundred Muslims arrested in the UK under terrorist legislation, and the vast majority of these have been released quietly without charge.
Despite the belief of many of the commentators at Littlegreengfootballs, and at jihad watch the Telegraph have not said that they will not publish anymore of these articles, and Harry’s employer have not fired him but rather initiated an investigation. I suspect this is not the end of this story by a long way.