There is a simple rule in Fleet Street: if you want to criticise a group or promote some generalisations about them it is easier to hide behind a member of that “community” doing the dirty work on your behalf.
This is why, for example, if you want to have a pop at feminism (and if you are the Daily Mail you want to do this almost all the time) get a woman to do it. It used to be the case about Blacks and Gays too, but at some stage our right-wing media got bored of hiding the racism and homophobia it naturally leans toward and just got on with both of those classics on their own.
Of course the scapegoat of choice for almost everything thesedays is the mysterious, alien and almost Hollywood-scripted contemporary Muslim. They’re different from you and I, you see. Swarthy, dogmatised hypocrites interested only in their own.
Which almost certainly explains this tirade from foreign-sounding-so-it’s-okay Mehdi Hasan appearing in The Times:
Most of the assistance to the flood-ravaged Pakistan has come from the UK and US, while the governments of oil-rich Muslim countries have donated little or nothing. Saudi Arabia finally announced this week that it would contribute up to $100m, but has so far sent only a few planeloads of relief supplies.
Meanwhile, Kuwait has put forward a paltry $5m and the UAE has pledged just $1.3m. Other nations such as Qatar, Bahrain and Brunei have pledged nothing to the UN relief effort. The parsimony of the Muslim world — and in particular the petrodollar states of the Middle East — is inexcusable.
The motley crew of kings, sheikhs, generals and presidents should hang their heads in shame. Is it too much to ask of Muslim countries to help Pakistan in the month of Ramadan, a time of solidarity, generosity and charity?
Not only do we have the chaps in beards to stigmatise but whole ‘Muslim countries’ too. Doesn’t it make life just a lot easier – just like in the good old days of the cold war – to have a good world and a bad world: whole countries full of peace loving veil-wearing Shariafied beheadders?
The key phrase in this diatribe is buried deep within. Too busy trying to cram ‘paltry,’ ‘parsimony,’ and ‘shame’ into this pander to those who want to turn away from the crisis because it isn’t deserving enough, Hasan forgets to mention that his figures are all relative only to the specific UN relief effort, not aid to Pakistan in general.
It’s not news that the Muslim world doesn’t trust the UN. That it avoids the UN relief effort then, whilst inconvenient for centralisers and no doubt some charities, doesn’t mean those countries, and the Muslims within, haven’t donated generously towards the victims in Pakistan otherwise.
Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia have traditionally given aid directly to Pakistan directly rather than through the UN.
This will be why they sent planes with relief goods before the rest of the world started to respond. This will be why the Saudi Development Fund contributed $55 million, and Saudi embassy staff donated their one-day salary for the flood victims. And it will be why Saudi Arabia has outspent the USA in terms of support.
Of course it might be that there is some High Politics at work with all this. It’s cheaper and safer for the West to donate buckets of cash to Pakistan than it is to keep thousands of NATO’s troops on the border waiting for the country to slowly Talebanise. And maybe it’s in the interests of this effort that the media play along with the impression required by the US and others, that it is they that are the saviours of Pakistan, not Pakistan’s supposed allies in the Muslim world.
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