Britain’s first Muslim minister, Shahid Malik, declared on a Channel 4 Dispatches programme this month that: “I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe.” Foreign readers ought not to fear that they’ve missed something here. There actually aren’t any concentration camps for Muslims in Britain. No Nuremberg laws have been passed. Only the most excitable observer would attempt to claim that Belmarsh prison is truly Treblinka. But that paranoid assertion is gaining currency. Its first victims are Muslims in Britain who, instead of being persuaded to face up to their problems and eject the extremists from their midst, might easily be flattered into believing that it’s not even their problem.
In December 2005 the writer Ziauddin Sardar wrote a piece on European attitudes to Muslims in New Statesman. It was headlined “The next holocaust”. A year later Muslim News wrote that “insightful critics of this Government and faith-based commentators [are] drawing parallels between how the Muslims are being stigmatised and demonised now is horribly reminiscent of the way in which the Jews were in Germany in the prequel to the Holocaust”.
Like fashion journalists searching for “the new black”, some guys just love identifying “the new Jews”. Never mind that with violent attacks on Jews in the UK at an all-time high, the new Jews might be, well, the old Jews: the search to identify criticism of Islam or Muslims with anti-Semitism is not only mistaken, it is calculated and deliberately diverting.