Another dispatch from a parallel Britain

As Matthew Turner has noticed, Melanie Phillips is fast running out of friends. In just two days, she has decided that the Conservative party, the Metropolitan Police and the Daily Telegraph have somehow deserted her in one way or another: the Tories are turning into a “non-opposition opposition”, the Met sponsoring a Muslim “rabble-rousers’” conference in the Docklands, and the Daily Telegraph has allegedly lost its moral compass by printing a picture of the mother of the most recent suicide bomber.

Look at the Daily Telegraph article that Phillips complains about, you’ll notice that print the picture is all the Telegraph did. The impression given is that the mother is not proud of what her son did and probably did not encourage it or approve of it, since one who had would no doubt be glad that her son had achieved his goal and supposedly gone to Paradise. Phillips alleges that by printing the picture, the newspaper “drew a moral equivalence between the grief of the bomber’s mother and the grief of the victims he murdered”. “Moral equivalence” is a phrase Phillips uses often, as if by putting a name on something, you demolish it. Of course, the Telegraph did no such thing; the comparison is entirely in Phillips’ imagination, and one might note that the shock and grief felt by members of the July 2005 bombers’ families (particularly Jermaine Lindsey) was given much press coverage.

Phillips of course has to have something to say about the Peace and Unity Conference, held over the weekend in the ExCeL centre in the London Docklands. The event does not seem to have got much media coverage - The Times and the BBC have write-ups of the event. Since Phillips could apparently not be bothered to attend the conference, she reproduced Carol Gould’s version of the event.

Gould saw Michael Mansfield QC wearing a kefiyyeh and “shouted into the mike about the heinous crimes of the Western coalition countries” as the audience “chanted and thundered its appreciation”. George Galloway, perhaps rather typically for him, threatened riots. As Yvonne Ridley, dressed in a “chador” and looking as if she might “self-immolate, such was her fury at the Zionists, the Americans and her fellow Britons”, gave a speech apparently attacking the Police, “the enormous, simmering crowd of what looked to me like the angriest gathering of young men and women with whom [Gould had] ever had the misfortune to be seated in my lifetime” responded with cries of “Allahu akbar”.

I wasn’t at the event myself, so I’m not in a position to confirm whether her accusations are true or not. Remember, this is the woman who thinks we Brits are all so reverential on Poppy Day, and said so on Front Page Magazine, the homepage of a parallel universe. On that site, things are so often entirely different to anything you have heard elsewhere; as an example, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is dismissed by Stephen Schwartz as no more than a Stalinist and a useless poet, and claims that other Spanish-language writers are overshadowed by his reputation, with fellow Chilean Nobel prize winner Gabriela Mistral “unknown north of the Rio Grande today” (well, I’d heard of her).

As an example of an obvious distortion in Gould’s article, she refers to a speech by the former cricketer Imran Khan, whose “power over world Islam was such that he gave one short speech and riots ensued across the globe, including the horrifying flag-burnings in London’s Grosvenor Square”. The incident to which she refers was the work of members of al-Muhajiroun, who turned up uninvited to another group’s rally. I’ve pointed this out on more than one occasion here, and these facts can be easily ascertained with a simple Google search.

A recurrent theme in Gould’s pieces in which the British Muslim community are depicted is their supposed total ignorance of recent British history. Barring of course the possibility of whether Gould is simply lying, the facts remain that not everyone in this country know who the Luftwaffe were even if they know that this country fought two wars against Germany, and that a fair number of white English are woefully ignorant about British history also. (Ironically, World War II is one of the less neglected aspects of the subject.) She also brings up the old accusation about the community’s “multitude of organisations, mosques and even its own Parliament”, which has been debunked so many times that one can only assume that its continued mention is malicious.

Unlike just about everyone else, Gould claims to be scared out of her wits and suggests that Americans, Israelis, Jews and Hindus get out of here as soon as they can. She claims she attended just before ending a five-month stay in the UK to return to her home country, the USA. If she had not decided to mention it, she might have continued writing her fanciful stories and nobody would have noticed the difference, as they already bear scant resemblance to the country in which the rest of us live.

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