Islamophobia. Ignorance Or Propaganda?
Tim Marshall August 04, 2009 8:26 AM
So, I've gatecrashed a Hamas wedding party in Gaza, as you do.
The party is for 450 grooms, the brides are elsewhere, some among the 5,000 or so guests. It's the way things are done here, Personally I'm for the mixing of the sexes, but I'm not about to argue, I'm outnumbered.
Up on the stage there's music and dancing. Everyone's having a good time, even me, although the Hamas robocops are making me a little nervous. Sure Hamas have cold blooded killers among them, sure they support the murder of children in Israel,sure they are cracking down on women's rights, but many of their supporters are just ordinary people. And they need a break.
The men and women are sitting, Most ignore the speeches, some even ignore the prayers. Then the fireworks
explode, the cheering begins, and in march the Hamas scouts, bashing drums, looking every inch the future Hamas fighters many will be. Then the grooms, aged about 18 to about 28. They are holding hands with their young nieces and cousins, little girls aged from about 3 to 8, made up to the nines, wearing white wedding dresses.
Up they all go to the stage, the cheering and music grows ever louder. The girls were having the time of their lives, but, getting a little bored after a while, came down off the stage to dance with each other and play games.
Our report on this put it into context saying that it took place just a mile from the Israeli border and was a message from Hamas about its strength confidence and future fighters. Oh and that the brides were elsewhere. Pretty straightforward.
It never struck me for a moment that the little girls might later be described in the bloggersphere as the brides! How naive I am.
Dozens, and I mean dozens, of websites took the video of the event and wrote lurid stories about Hamas mass paedophilia with headlines about '450 child brides', and endless copy about how disgusting this was, how it showed how depraved Islam is, et al, ad infinitum. Site after site jumped on the story, linking from one totally wrong load of rubbish to the next . I'll give credit to Tundra Tabloids who at least took down the video, but most sites just ploughed on regardless.
I spent a few hours visiting websites and leaving comments where I could. To little avail. Instead I received a steady stream of vitriol. The best response was on a site run by a Debbie Schlussel . The guy who posted it said he wasn't interested in the detail. The detail being the fact that the girls weren't the brides.
It showed how much some people want to believe nonsense like this, as it re-inforces their prejudices, always a comfortably fun thing to do. But Hamas, and the jihadists do enough terrible things without having to make things up about them. Most of the stuff I read was outright, unthinking, gleeful, Islamophobia from people who clearly knew nothing about Arab popular culture. It's as is they really beleive that because there are examples of child brides, it means all weddings are with child brides.
Some sites went so far as to complain that the mainstream media were complicit in paedophilia because they had reported the mass wedding but failed to mention that little girls were about to be raped that night. And so it went on, and on.
Perhaps I was making up the fact that the brides were elsewhere. It's possible. But who would you believe, the reporter who went to the event, or a desperately poor version of citizen journalist, sitting at home, making things up, not checking anything, and either unknowingly or deliberately, writing hysterical anti Islamic nonsense.
- About this blog
- Download Tim's regular Podcast HERE.
Or listen to HERE
Foreign Matters tries to join the dots and tell it like it is. Postions? It takes them. Debates? It makes them.
Some blogs will use the language of diplomats without translation, Foreign Matters seeks to explain that a ‘Working Group’ is 5 or more people sitting in a room failing to achieve anything, and a ‘ Bi-lateral’ is a meeting involving two people chatting.