Douglas Murray Douglas Murray

Is Boris wrong to claim Islam set the Muslim world back?

I do love the Guardian. As the years go by almost no publication continues to give me such constant amusement. This week has been no exception.

A couple of days after first reading it I still remain almost impossibly amused by the paper’s lead, front-page story from earlier this week. The banner headline read ‘Boris Johnson claimed Islam put Muslim world “centuries behind”.’ As the sub-header for Frances Perraudin’s piece put it:

‘Anger as 2007 essay lamenting ‘no spread of democracy’ in Islamic world comes to light.’

Comes to light, eh? Must be some under-the-counter pamphlet, previously hidden-from-public-view stuff. That impression is reinforced as we start reading  Perraudin’s piece, a piece that sets off with a paragraph of scintillating promise:

‘Boris Johnson has been strongly criticised for arguing Islam has caused the Muslim world to be “literally centuries behind” the west, in an essay unearthed by the Guardian.’

‘Unearthed’. Wow, this must be exceptionally secret – as well as strong – stuff. So we have to keep reading to discover that the offence complained of did not occur during a rally in a Bavarian beer-hall, but in ‘An appendix added to a later edition of The Dream of Rome, his [Johnson’s] 2006 book about the Roman empire.’ So in fact when the Guardian’s intrepid correspondent, Frances Perraudin, talks about ‘unearthing’ something, what she really means is that she has read some of a book published a little over a decade ago. You can say many things about reading books, including reading books by prominent politicians, but the turning of research into ‘unearthing’ is the sort of self-glorification and task-inflation that could only occur in a trade that is dying.

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Douglas Murray
Written by
Douglas Murray
Douglas Murray is associate editor of The Spectator and author of The War on the West: How to Prevail in the Age of Unreason, among other books.

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