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Tuesday, March 08, 2011 

Tiresome complicity.

At times, I get tired. I get tired of the same old nonsense, dressed up slightly differently, being shoved through the nation's letterboxes and screaming out from the newspaper racks. I get tired of the sheer laziness involved, not just on their part, but on my part as well in feeling the need to bang out another post on something that's been covered endlessly before. I get tired of just how easy it is to pretend there's outrage about something when only those never knowingly out-outraged were up in arms in the first place. Most of all, I get tired of the subterfuge, the sleight of hand, the distraction from what's actually happening, the sheer cynicism of the all those involved, all being complicit while also (hopefully) secretly uncomfortable.

Here, after all, is the perfect example of how so much of modern journalism isn't reporting events as they happen, but being actively involved in the creation of them. In January of last year the remnants of Al-Muhajiroun, led by Anjem Choudary and going under the name of Islam4UK sent out a press release suggesting they intended to march through Wootton Bassett, the small town through which the bodies of killed servicemen repatriated at RAF Lyneham travel on their way to John Radcliffe hospital. Even though Choudary and his group almost certainly had no intention whatsoever in going ahead with the protest, it created the firestorm he had wanted and much more besides, Islam4UK being swiftly banned. Job done, he announced they'd called off the march as he and the group had made their point.

Ten months later and the pattern repeats. Choudary, this time under the banner of Muslims Against Crusades, sends out press releases and phones up the usual suspects: the Sun, the Star, the Express, the Mail. His group is going to lead a protest against the 2 minute silence on Armistice Day: not only will the usual array of 20 bearded and easily led hotheads be chanting their trademark refrain of "British soldiers terrorists, murderers, rapists" etc, they also plan to burn a couple of Poppy wreaths to really slam their hard hitting message home. Quick as flash, their opposite numbers in the knuckle-dragging stakes, the English Defence League, announce a counter-protest. Come the day, MAC do actually decide to turn up, and in the middle of the two groups alongside the police are the nation's finest gutter residents, ready to film and shoot as Choudary's mob just about managed to equal the achievement of prehistoric man in creating fire.

Yesterday Emdadur Choudhury was duly convicted of a public order offence by going beyond the accepted bounds of protest in an act likely to cause "harassment, harm or distress" to those who witnessed it. Objectionable as any prosecution at all was, something Alex Massie covers, the verdict from Judge Howard Riddle and the fine imposed were exactly the response you would want from a court that couldn't just throw the case out: they simply went through the motions. The £50 fine imposed on Choudhury, the lowest available sanction, carried with it a far too subtle subtext: that instead of giving even more attention to those desperately seeking it, you either ignore them or treat them as the insignificant, shallow and predictable individuals that they are. The derisory fine was for a derisory act committed by a derisory person of a derisory group. It fitted perfectly.

Last Friday, Richard Peppiatt resigned from the Daily Star over their promotion of the English Defence League and the paper's general attitude towards Muslims. He explained just how things worked with Choudary:

Not that my involvement in stirring up a bit of light-hearted Islamaphobia stopped there. Many a morning I've hit my speed dial button to Muslim rent-a-rant Anjem Choudary to see if he fancied pulling together a few lines about whipping drunks or stoning homosexuals.

The Star, almost needless to say, led this morning with the "OUTRAGE" of Choudary's other Choudhury being fined only £50. A stunt that the tabloid press actively connived in and which they were happy to see go ahead is met with a thunderous editorial in the Sun (not archived) which asks without so much as a smidgen of self-doubt or awareness

How much longer must we tolerate their free speech over-ruling the sanctity of the Remembrance Day silence?

The answer to which is however long the paper continues to do Choudary's work for him. The conviction of Choudhury also had the happy effect of enabling the paper to talk about absolutely anything other than the very real embarrassment of the SAS being caught in Libya, meaning both the government which just gave the OK to the Sun's parent company to buy BSkyB and the armed forces which the paper can never stop felching got off without a word of criticism said against either.

I expect the media will eventually tire of Choudary, or he'll eventually tire of his position as one of the country's most hated men; the realisation that you're a complete prick can creep up on you slowly, as I know from past experience, but once it hits it's something you can never escape from. In the meantime, it's the rest of us that are duly caught in the crossfire of boredom, conspiracy and complicity unleashed whenever a journalist dials 07956 600569.

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Tried to read this on my phone today. Did you realise T-miobile content lock blocks your site as unsuitable for minors?

I didn't. Can't think of any reason why it should be except for the occasional resort to swearing and the occasional graphic photograph.

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