drama provokes thought

Over the last two nights I watched top-notch drama from Channel 4, called Britz. The two-part drama followed a brother and sister from a Muslim immigrant family who take very different directions in response to the political changes in England post 9/11. It’s a well-acted and scripted series that tackles complicated situations.

The show is controversial. Thank goodness. People don’t get agitated about bland pap. They discuss issues that hit them hard. After looking over the forum pages on the Channel 4 site I can see that opinion is polarised, among Muslims and non-Muslims, about the drama, but it’s got them talking.

What I thought came across very well was how British Muslims would consider their community under attack because of the change in law, the use of detain and search, etc. For instance, it’s not that long ago that the IRA was bombing London. Anyone who was travelling between Ireland and the UK during that time can remember the problems. One of my relatives was going to college in the UK, and had to move between the countries regularly. He was often stopped. One time he was detained, interviewed, and verbally abused for a long period of time. His only crime was being Irish and studying in the UK. It didn’t engender any sympathy in him towards those government officials who were trying to tackle an awful threat, but often in a ham fisted manner.

It constantly amazes me that politicians learn so little from history.

In a strange coincidence I have just been involved in research on Islam in relation to a story that’s brewing in the back of my mind. I was struck by how many of the insults and accusations that are tossed at Islam have in the past been used against other religions, for instance Judaism, and Christianity. All three of those religions impose rules and regulations upon their adherents that might appear strange to those outside the religion, are focused on creating strong family ties, and establishing a religious identity. They create communities – and the closed nature of these communities will always make government nervous. All three of those religions preach a message of peace. The majority of Muslims, Jews, and Christians leave good lives and only want to bring up their families in safety and happiness.

There are many similarities between the religions – they’ve evolved from the same root after all – so it seems to me that a great deal of education needs to occur to uncover the similarities and destroy the stupid myths and preconceptions.

Personally, I’m areligious, so when I hear one group bash the other one I just shake my head and wonder if they’ve ever examined their own community and realised how weird it looks to someone from the outside. There are fundamentalists in every religion. It’s important to remember that even though they hog the media spotlight they are the minority.

Most people want to get on with their lives. Making innocent citizens feel like criminals in their own country by dint of their religion is not the way to go. The issue of security is a complicated one, and governments need to ensure that the majority of their citizens are safe. Equally, governance – both home and abroad – needs to be dealt with in a fair and equitable manner.

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