Happy Ramadhan, my lovelies. Last night after breaking the fast, I was entertained by Channel 4’s Ramadhan season programme, “Undercover Mosque: The Return“. The title might sound kind of self-explanatory, but allow me to describe this fine specimen anyway: “Undercover Mosque” was an investigation-cum-reality programme some time ago on TV (probably during last year’s Ramadhan) aimed at exposing extremism that was happening right under the noses of the Brits. Last night’s show had an undercover reporter in an abaya poking around the exclusive interiors of the ‘most important mosque in Britain’ – the one that sticks out like a sore thumb by Regent’s Park in London. She had returned after one year on a check-up to see whether the mosque was (still) harbouring extremist cretins. Anyway, what was revealed to Britons watching prime time television last night was scary: the fundamental fanatics are still out there!!!
What I saw also took me by surprise. I’m going to sound all stupid and all-Azly-Rahman-like if I thought that this was all a Western World conspiracy out to engineer the downfall of Islam. But no, there are real weirdos out there. The undercover reporter had special access to the women’s ‘balcony’ (okay, the only access she was allowed); a separate zone for women above the main hall of the mosque. Here religious lessons and counseling take on a Wahhabi slant – an Islamic sect known for its extreme intolerance towards other religions and independent women, to name a few. Clips of fiery speeches by men with big uncombed beards declaring bloody war on infidels and even feminists (oh dear) were plenty and tiresome. As if religious extremism was something new: ever heard Christian fundamentalists talk? They’re scary too. And what about non-religious extremism? Do you know what Greenpeace can do? Bbrrr! I shudder to think…
Anyway I don’t want to get bogged down by examples of other forms of extremisms. The crux of this post is the timing of the said programme. Nearly every programme on British television about Islam and Muslims have been about either 1) How evil we are 2) How so many people get it wrong about Islam. So it’s about how good we are. I can go on a full-analysis about the state of Muslim people in Britain, especially Muslim women, but let’s leave that to another time.
Update: Comment is free featured an article commenting on last night’s show.