This might on the surface appear to be yet more criticism of Islam, but it’s not. Instead it is a rant against some lunatics who appear to be masquerading as administrators at the London Metropolitan University. The Daily Mail reports …
Yep, apparently the administration has announced that they propose to ban alcohol for reasons of cultural sensitivity, and so some might rush out to Criticise Islam for imposing their beliefs on others.
Ah … but there is one little problem with this … it’s not true, the Muslims do not have any objections to alcohol and did not call for a ban.
The news might indeed imply that some Islamic student body was attempting to impose their batty beliefs on others, but not at all. In this instance they are being the good guys and have formally objected to this proposal, not because they actually wish to rush out and drink, but rather because they wish to (quite rightly) demonstrate some tolerance towards others.
A chap from the Guardian hung out at the University to actually check things. Why did he do that? Well because when the Daily Mail story went out it …
prompted a robust response via an open letter from two of the university’s Islamic associations. If you are going to ban alcohol, they said, don’t blame us. You didn’t ask us if we wanted you to do it. In fact we don’t want you to do it. Implying that we’re behind this is both “divisive and irresponsible”. You’re making us “scapegoats” for what is really a financial decision.
So off he went to find out what the Muslim students really thought, and soon discovered that many of them were indeed ready to take a stand against an alcohol ban. “It’s ridiculous,” says a student in a black headscarf. “We have our prayer room. If there is alcohol there, we don’t have to buy it.”
So what is my point here? It is this. We all have a natural bias and so at times when we hear some news that panders to our preconceived notions there is a strong temptation to buy into it without asking if it is really true. When folks buy into a supernatural belief, we criticise them for gulping down the presented claim without really thinking about it, but if we are not alert it is possible to fall into the same trap.
Recent examples of this include the claim that Egypt was about to pass a law that permitted husbands to have sex with their wives up to six hours after they died. It pandered to almost every xenophobic stereotype … one little problem, it was not actually true.
This latest Daily Mail hype is yet another example of xenophobic nonsense that is not actually true. Yes OK, not quite their fault, they simply believed what the university told them I guess … but still, they should have actually fact checked.
Critical Thinking is important, and so is criticism of all supernatural claims and also the associated crazy behaviour that is belief driven . Now call me a tad picky if you like, but I do feel it to be also rather important for all such criticism to be factually based.