Liblink: Christine Jardine: My shock at Islamophobia wrapped up in Union flag

Twice recently, Christine Jardine has visited a Mosque in her constituency.

When she’s posted the pictures on social media, the nasty, racist comments started to flow. She wrote about that experience in the Scotsman this week:

I was brought up in Glasgow where sectarianism is almost commonplace. But I had never experienced anything like this. After removing a string of offensive and abusive comments from my page, I posted another comment asking people to be more respectful. That was a waste of time. It seems my offence was to cover my head, something my Church of Scotland-going grandmother long ago taught me I should always do in a place of worship.

And there was a common factor to many of the abusive comments she received:

Insults which I won’t repeat were thrown about with frightening ease. Most had one thing in common: the profiles came wrapped in a flag, predominantly, but not exclusively, the Union flag.

She also saw evidence of the effect of this nastiness on the people she met:

I spoke with two mothers who told me that they were worried about this week. They admitted that the disgustingly named ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ had made them feel afraid to leave their homes on that day. They didn’t want to give into what they know is a minority, but it was still enough to make them fearful for their own and their children’s well-being. I offered support and, I felt, reassurance, that yes it was a minority and certainly not something we should be afraid of in this part of the world.

Christine is not going to let the racists win:

I had gone to the Mosque on Friday simply to meet some constituents and, where appropriate, offer my support. Instead I found the experience gave me much, much more than I had anticipated, and more than anything else a renewed resolve not to give in to the narrow nationalistic bitterness that threatens to undermine that most valuable of commodities – common humanity.

It is quite disturbing to think that racists now have the confidence to put their names to such awful comments. This shows why liberals need to put their effort into showing solidarity and kindness to those targeted and ensuring that hate speech is never tolerated.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • Peter Hirst 9th Apr '18 - 10:11am

    This is what happens when we allow our minds free reign from the usual restricting forces of community, faith, culture and dare I say it schooling. It has been fostered also by the debate about free speech that encourages people to be provocative and then defend their words. The results of words must be the responsibility of those who utter them.

  • Unfortunately, while I share Christine’s outrage, I do not share her shock. This kind of narrow-minded bile is common. The objection to her covering her head is weird. I go in an Eastern Orthodox church on holiday, and accept shorts are not approved. I go in a synagogue and cover my head. I go in most Western churches and, if a service is proceeding, do not keep a hat on. I go to a funeral and wear dark clothes and a tie unless I know this is not expected. It’s different if the rule contradicts something fundamental in my beliefs – if I’m asked to gamble or to speak responses which don’t represent what I believe – but for most of us, there is nothing fundamental about wearing or not wearing headgear, so respect and politeness say, follow the rules of the people you’re visiting.

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