TEN minutes past eight in the morning. I can just about manage to pour the coffee, deedle the baby and ensure that I am wearing matching socks.
What I cannot do is come up with a reasonable explanation for having to listen to the vile ranting of Anjem Choudary.
A radical cleric, a hate preacher, Choudary is a man who seeks for Sharia to be implemented in Britain and who has recently called for the curry house owners of Brick Lane to be whipped for serving alcohol. As representative voices go, I’d place him some way behind the bloke who stoats through the Christmas crowds wearing a sandwich board daubed with misspelled scripture, shouting ‘the end is nigh’. And yet there he was on the Today programme, using all the platitudes of a politician, a matter of hours after the convictions of Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, for the brutal killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby.
Rigby’s parents had sat in the courtroom each day of the trial of Adebolajo and Adebowale, enduring the horrific and graphic accounts of their son’s death as well as the utter lack of remorse from the men convicted of his murder. I only hope they were spared hearing Choudary, the man who had played a part in radicalising Adebolajo, refusing to condemn Rigby’s murder and instead using the airtime he was given to push his misguided and malicious message. Why give him a platform?
I’m not advocating that we stick our fingers in our ears and pretend people such as Choudary don’t exist. What would be the point? They do, spreading their toxic, twisted teachings among vulnerable young men. What Choudary and his ilk do and what they espouse should be known so that it can be scrutinised and scorned. But that doesn’t mean giving him the most prestigious news slot on Radio 4 and allowing him to rant almost uninterrupted. Did the editors of the Today programme believe that Choudary was going to have changed his oft-stated view that the murder of Rigby was “justified”. Did they think that such was the grilling dished up by John Humphrys (tougher than anything Kirsty Wark could throw at Choudary when he was a guest on Newsnight in May) that he’d have to recant, to see the error of his abhorrent ways? Hardly. Humphrys barely landed a blow.
Choudary, like Omar Bakri who appeared on Channel 4 News the night before and who also played a role in the radicalisation of Rigby’s killers, is an extremist. Just to be clear, that means his views are extreme, not mainstream and therefore not representative of any significant number of people. So when he talks about “we” and “our” he isn’t speaking for all Muslims. Far from it. As the clamour grew over his appearance, the BBC issued a statement declaring that in relation to Rigby’s murder, it had, “carried a wide range of views from across the political and religious spectrums”. Shame that didn’t include a mainstream Muslim voice alongside or, better still, instead of Choudary.
I’M SURE the rule book is both protracted and exhaustive for what one does when accepting an award from the future king of one’s country. Surely there’s something about not looking him straight in the eye, referring to him as “Mr Wales” rather than Chaz. Hang on, I think I’m getting confused with how people had to behave around Frank Sinatra on movie sets. Anyway, what I’m quite sure of is that expected etiquette probably ensures that you are not supposed to walk away with shiny bauble on lapel and then guffaw loudly as you do so. That’s what Adele did upon receiving her MBE from the Prince of Wales and I’ve got to say I enjoyed it. It almost made me forgive her for saying she didn’t like paying tax. But not quite.
A little R.E.S.P.E.C.T
I AM no prude, but the moment I saw the video for Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines (Pharrell Williams, be ashamed) I was shocked. That a video as rank as that could’ve been made without any one of the multitude of “creatives” who were no doubt involved saying, “Erm, just one thing, boys, I think objectifying women like this is a bit 1970s” is boggling enough. But that Thicke went on to perform at every major music event, surrounded by women whose sole job was “sexy stomping”, adds insult to injury. So news that Thicke has been awarded Sexist of the Year by the EVAW Coalition is most welcome. His prize? A voucher to download Aretha Franklin’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Nice.