In the wake of the incident of the "Allahu akbar"-shouting Olympic torch-snatcher in London, the headline on a July 8 article in the Guardian by a British Muslim journalist named Mehdi Hasan may seem, shall we say, a mite ironic: "We mustn't allow Muslims in public life to be silenced." The piece was a bid for pity. "Have you ever been called an Islamist?" it began. "How about a jihadist or a terrorist? Extremist, maybe? Welcome to my world….Every morning, I take a deep breath and then go online to discover what new insult or smear has been thrown in my direction….the abuse is as relentless as it is vicious." Hasan's claim is that this "abuse" – mostly by readers commenting online on his articles – is evidence of "Islamophobia" and is part and parcel of a widespread, insidious attempt to suppress the voices of Muslims in the public square.
Hasan says that he has been targeted throughout his career in journalism by this repulsive effort to silence Muslim voices. "On joining the New Statesman in 2009 [as political editor], I was promptly subjected to an online smear campaign….Three years later, as I leave the New Statesman to join the Huffington Post UK [as political director], little seems to have changed." If anything emerges clearly from Hasan's plaint, it's that if anyone's trying to silence him, it sure ain't working. Au contraire – this guy's journalistic career is thriving. Though he's leaving the New Statesman as editor, he'll remain in its pages as a weekly columnist. He's been a welcome regular contributor to the Guardian for some time now. He appears frequently on the popular political talk shows Newsnight and Question Time. And he's just been given his own series on – where else? – Al Jazeera. In short, despite the supposed campaign to "silence" him and other Muslims, Hasan has held top positions at some of the top media organizations in Britain – few (probably none) of which would ever dream of hiring anyone remotely critical of his religion.