The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has long been mocked by critics both inside and outside of administrative circles as ‘The Camel Corps’ due to the perception that there is a long-standing and deep pro-Arab and pro-Islamic bias embedded in FCO culture. Recent events such as an pro-hijab event for FCO staff, held on ‘World Hijab Day’ on February the 1st, followed by the subsequent press reports of this bit of Islamopandering, have done nothing to remove or ameliorate the feeling that maybe FCO bias towards Islam is both too deep and has gone much too far.
The existence of this internal event, one that the FCO doesn’t seem to happy about being made public, appears to have been originally revealed by a conservative-leaning French journalist called Anne-Elizabeth Moutet. The story was then picked up by Breitbart, who pressed the FCO for more information about this event. At the time of writing Breitbart does not seem to have been furnished with the information that they have requested. Big names from the small but noisy Islamic reform movement such as Majid Nawaas also got on board and criticised the FCO for their actions and in my view they are quite right to do so.
I must admit it looks pretty sick-making that the department of Her Majesty’s Government that is tasked with managing relations between Britain and the rest of the world is engaging in an activity that promotes a garment that Muslim women in Islamic nations risk imprisonment or worse for casting off. The hijab is not a ‘choice’ or an ’empowerment’ or a sign of ‘liberation’ or any of the other dishonestly used lefty buzzwords that get bandied about on ‘World Hijab Day’, it is so often and instrument of oppression both by Islamic governments and by the highly misogynistic cultures that exist in Islamic countries and communities.
Information about this event needed to be prised from the fingers of an extremely reluctant FCO. The department fobbed reporters from Breitbart off with lame excuses such as ‘they were busy’ and that ‘the matter was being dealt with by another member of staff’. According to Breitbart the organ tried 15 times to get a yes or no answer to the question of whether this event had taken place. It was only after massive amounts of criticism on social media that the FCO issued a bland statement about helping staff understand other cultures.
Whilst I concede that it is probably a good idea to get staff who will be working overseas or who will be dealing with those of other cultures to have an understanding of how different cultures work, promoting the hijab is really not the way to do it. Promoting the hijab in this way is a slap in the face for all those millions of Muslim women who live under the oppression of Islam and for whom the hijab is a symbol of their slavery.
Judging by the reluctance that the FCO has shown in admitting to the existence of this event, they must know that what they’ve done is both wrong and highly controversial. If this was a run of the mill cultural training event for staff dealing with the citizens and governments of China or the USA or various African nations then I don’t believe that the FCO would have been so ridiculously unforthcoming with answering requests from journalists. But, because the FCO have overstepped the line and have been actively promoting an Islamic religious garment, they have tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to cover their tracks by stalling and being evasive.
There is an old colonial phrase that used to be used to be used pejoratively to describe those British Empire officials who had abandoned British culture and instead embraced the culture of those who they were governing. That phrase was ‘going native’ and it aptly but sadly describes the situation that the FCO has ended up in because of its excessive closeness to often despotic Arab and Muslim governments across the world. The FCO, which should be looking after British interests across the globe, has instead decided to cleave to Islamic interests even though these Islamic interests are often hostile to the interests of Britain and its citizens. Back in the day if a colonial district officer in somewhere like India’s North West Frontier province for instance suddenly went native and converted to Mohammedanism, then that was merely the individual and familial tragedy of someone who chose savagery over civilisation. However to have Britain’s FCO ‘going native’ like this in a similar way is something that should both concern and worry the average British citizen. It is not morally right for the FCO to be promoting specific religious garments in this way, especially contentious garments, and it will quite rightly raise doubts among the populace about how much more Islam promotion is going to in the FCO?
If there is one thing that has been revealed by this furore then it is the extent that pro-Islam activists have penetrated the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The scandal has also revealed to the public that the FCO is a swamp that is in dire need of being drained of all those who have helped to give it the nickname of ‘The Camel Corps’.