That the Express is hilariously bad has been known for some time. Remember the plate of toast to explain to readers what 'bread and butter' meant? It's also fairly obvious that the Express and Star have decided to plump for the racist readership, firmly depicting ethnic minorities as "them" and white Brits as "us".
Now, today, there's a spectacular combination of racism and hilarious awfulness, so wonderful that you really must see it:
There's the classic "us and them" of course - Muslims couldn't possibly be "us", could they? It makes it fairly clear to Muslim potential readers of the Express that they're not wanted, and that racist idiots are to be welcome with open arms.
And hang on a minute, what's that list of 'our' culture underneath the headline? Shakespeare, hmm OK. That's British culture.
Harry Potter - oh for fuck's sake. Is this what we've come to as a nation? Some shite wizard book for kids (read by adults on the Tube as if it's a good thing to do)? You can shove that shit anyway.
Cricket - cricket? Would a Muslim school really ban cricket? Many Muslims play it.
Music - A bit of a wide stroke there, no explanation of what music is being 'banned'.
Ludo - Is that really a cornerstone of British culture? Do you see kids hastily convening in the playground for a game of ludo or two? No...?
Monopoly - Is an American invention anyway, not British, but fine. Maybe some people think it's bad to teach kids to be greedy and to succeed by crushing everyone else; personally I reckon it's just a game. But anyway.
Chess - whoa now! Chess - 'our' culture? Er, I don't bloody think so. Wherever you want to think chess came from - the Indian or Arab world, it's certainly not British!
Now I'm no fan of 'faith schools', as I don't think any school should preach religion to its kids; but these places do exist because of demand from parents. Let's not forget it was Tony Blair who initiated the new wave of faith schools, though of course separate Catholic/Proddy schools have existed for donkeys' years anyway.
The Express, in the story, gets the fuel for its racism from one of the many 'think-tanks' that have quietly taken root over the past few years, many of which seem to have rather common ground when it comes to their views on Islam.
And look how the headlines begin to crumble already:
A number of Muslim schools are promoting Islamic extremism and encouraging pupils to grow up despising Britain, a think tank report claims today.
Youngsters are discouraged from playing cricket and board games, listening to western music and even reading Shakespeare plays or Harry Potter books by fanatics targeting classrooms, the research says.
So that's just 'discouraged' rather than 'forbidden', then. And 'western music'? Do me a favour. Who are these 'fanatics targeting classrooms'? Do they really exist or are they just a convenient bogeyman for another anti-Islam 'think-tank' to spread its own brand of 'extremism' via the tabloids?
The vile diktats to Muslim pupils, some of primary school age, appear on school websites or on other internet sites linked directly to school sites and operated by fund amentalist groups. Critics last night called for strict vetting of Muslim education to root out extremist influence. Moderate Muslim groups welcomed the findings and called for the attempts by extremists to target children to be stamped out.
So... are the schools themselves doing this? Because this has been the implication so far. I love the sudden appearance of 'critics' to make it clear that everyone thinks this is all genuinely happening and is A Very Bad Thing. I daresay some extremists are attempting to target Muslim children, but are the schools complicit in this, as has been suggested?
It highlights a number of websites, including one “fatwa” site linked to a school which warned a boy that his ambition of playing cricket for Pakistan was “a sacrilegious waste of time”. Another said children should be banned from reading “shameless fiction” or play ing games such as Ludo or Monopoly. It also said: “The person who plays chess is like the one who dips his hands in the blood of a swine.”
So is the school linking to this 'fatwa' site or is the 'fatwa' site linking to the school? That kind of matters.
The website of a Muslim girls’ school in London said: “Our children are exposed to a culture that is in opposition to almost everything Islam stands for.”
Hmm, well that depends how you look at it, doesn't it? If you believe the Express and its friends at the Star, then 'our culture' (the state broadcaster) puts Muslims before YOU. Perhaps here are other people taking a slightly different view of things. A lot of modern culture is, after all, torn to shreds by moralists like Melanie Phillips, who are anything but Muslim. Ah, if only they knew the common ground they shared, I'm sure Mel could go and cuddle a Muslim and vice versa. Or, maybe not.
Right at the end of the story, the Express put in the 'balance':
But the Association of Muslim Schools UK dismissed the report as misleading, intolerant and divisive.
“It contains rhetoric which is not only inaccurate but also breeds distrust and disharmony and adds nothing positive or constructive to the debate,” it said.
“We are particularly disappointed but not surprised that the report has been drafted and edited by individuals who have a track record of producing literature that is divisive, poorly researched and does not stand up to serious independent scrutiny. The authors did not visit a single Muslim school.”
And for some reason
Well I wonder why that is...? Surely the Express can trust its readers to come up with an informed and sensible debate about this issue - can't they?