Express on Sunday
7th January 2004
Dear Mr Townsend,
For some time now, many British Muslims have been deeply troubled about why the Express on Sunday continues to employ Robert Kilroy-Silk as a weekly columnist. It is truly galling to see an Islamophobic hatemonger like Kilroy given a platform to propagate his clearly racist views in a respected mainstream newspaper.
Kilroy-Silk is � as you must know - a man who positively revels in airing his anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views. We wonder whether you would consider it proper to give the same kind of prominence to a columnist who was so openly anti-black or anti-Jewish?
In last Sunday�s paper Kilroy surpassed all his previous efforts and produced a gratuitous anti-Arab rant.
As you can see in the following extract (�We Owe Arabs Nothing�) from the Express on Sunday (4th January 2004), Kilroy-Silk appears unable (or unwilling) to distinguish between the terrorists who perpetrated the Sept 11 atrocities and the ordinary Arab peoples who constitute a population of over 200 million.
�We're told that the Arabs loathe us. Really?� What do they think we feel about them? That we adore them for the way they murdered more than 3,000 civilians on September 11� That we admire them for the cold-blooded killings in Mombasa, Yemen and elsewhere? That we admire them for being suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women-repressors?�
Note that Kilroy doesn�t attack the actions of a particular few � but �the Arabs� as a whole. This seems to be a clear case of indiscriminate generalisation and as such, blatantly racist. The Press Council upheld a complaint against The Sun for publishing similar comments about �the Arabs� in 1987.
Kilroy also displays a lamentable grasp of geography and history:
�The Arab world has not exactly earned our respect, has it? Iran is a vile, terrorist-supporting regime - part of the axis of evil. So is the Saddam Hussein-supporting Syria. So is Libya. Indeed, most of them chant support for Saddam.�
Iran is a largely Farsi-speaking country (not Arab) and heir to an enormously rich civilisation. Kilroy�s dismissive remarks Iran and the Arab world are not untypical of the arrogant way he treats anything to do with Islam or Muslims.
In addition, the Iraqi and Syrian regimes have for decades actually been bitter rivals in the region as each country�s branch of the Ba�th party tried to project itself as the leader of the Arab world. Moreover, the majority of the Arab public has never hidden its disdain for Saddam Hussein and his brutal rule.
The Muslim Council of Britain considers Kilroy�s remarks quoted above to be ignorant, extremely derogatory and indisputably racist.
We now urge the Express on Sunday to take urgent and firm action on this extremely serious matter to reassure the Muslim and Arab communities in Britain and abroad that your newspaper will not in any way accept the demonisation of entire peoples.
Certainly, if the word �Jews� was substituted for �Arabs� in the Kilroy quotes above it seems to us that the Express on Sunday would not tolerate any delay before it took substantive action against Kilroy.
What is more worrying is that the Express on Sunday continues to employ Kilroy-Silk as a columnist while knowing full well the true nature of his racist and Islamophobic views. After all, this is not the first time that Kilroy-Silk has made similar remarks. On Monday 16th January 1995, Kilroy-Silk wrote the following in the Daily Express:
�Moslems everywhere behave with equal savagery. They behead criminals, stone to death female � only female � adulterers, throw acid in the faces of women who refuse to wear the chadar, mutilate the genitals of young girls >and ritually abuse animals. Nor are non-Moslems immune to their depravity.
They conspired to kill the Pope, placed a death sentence on Salman Rushdie for writing things they did not like, murdered several of his supporters, threatened the life of a Moslem author who said, rightly, Islam treats women as second-class citizens, and indiscriminately murdered Western holiday-makers in Algeria, Egypt and elsewhere � just because they were Westerners.�
We would ask that the Express on Sunday gives the Muslim Council of Britain a right of reply in a full length article to express why British Muslims have been so hurt by what your paper has allowed to be printed in its pages.
For your information, the Muslim Council of Britain is also writing to the Press Complaints Commission about Kilroy�s article.
Mr Inayat Bunglawala,
The Muslim Council of Britain,
London E15 1NT