Monday, 15 October 2012

Details in news stories simply don't get read

An article in the Daily Mail recently was headlined "Drunk man who threatened to slit pregnant girlfriend’s throat with Stanley knife unless she converted to Islam is spared jail" which reports on how one Kuldeep Chail, commented to Mohammed Malik, a complete stranger, at a bus stop that he was "going to kill her if she won't listen'. Mr Malik was so concerned that he alerted Police.

The more ethnically aware amogst you will already have noticed that "Kuldeep" is not a Muslim name, and indeed the story actually points out, about half way through, that "at Snaresbrook Crown Court today it emerged that Chail is himself a Sikh, not a Muslim"

All pretty clear then?

Not for many of the Mail Online commenters it wasn't, as many of them believed that the accused WAS a Muslim, as shown by their comments, jsut a few of which are shown below :

"See what I mean? It's time for a ban on these extremists..."

"... if this 'man' is so passionate about his religion, then why does he drink and smoke as he is holding a packet of tobacco.. two things which are prohibited in his religion. Hypocrite."

"A Muslim that gets drunk. What another wonderful example of Islam."

"A drunk Muslim, threatening somebody with a Stanley knife and he gets off. Good job he was not a person of no faith, his feet would not have touched before being landed with a stiff jail sentence - are we going barking mad as a nation?"

"Which just goes to show how small riders and caveats in articles simply are not read by many readers, and allow articles to give these readers a message that damages community cohesions and generates ill-will and distrust."

The irony, of course, is that it was a Muslim, Mr Malik, who was the good guy in this story!

15 OCT 13- Malala ariives in the UK for Treatment
An article entitled Touchdown: Malala, 14, arrives in UK from Pakistan with her family for life-saving treatment after being shot in the head by Taliban for going to school in the MailOnline today reports on the story of Malala Yousafzai, who had been shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to campaign for the right to a school education. The article describes how Malala has arrived in the UK for treatment, which will take several months.

One question that people might legitimately ask is who is paying for the flight to the UK and subsequent treatment. The article answers this question with a quote by a Pakistani Army official who says that "'All expenses including transportation of Malala by specially equipped air ambulance and treatment abroad will be borne by the government of Pakistan"

But many readers simply did not see this, with the result that the feedback section was littered with comments like the following:

"A British medical team has flown to Pakistan to help doctors looking after 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai and will now transfer her to the UK for 'prolonged treatment'. ------------------- WHO IS PAYING FOR THIS?"

"I thought the NHS was under funded - or is that just for its British patients?"

"While people are waiting for operations, let's just fly someone over to get priority treatment! this country has it all so very very wrong."

"I've just collected my daughters proscription and it cost me fifteen pounds do I need to say more."

23 NOV 13- "Children of 8 are 'racist' if they miss Islam trip"
An article entitled "Children of 8 are 'racist' if they miss Islam trip: School's threatening letter to parents is met with outrage" describes how a primary school in Staffordshire sent out a ridiculously worded letter regarding a trip to Staffordhire Uni to see some Islamic artifacts as part of their RE course. The school, idiotically, chose to bully the parents by using the following text as part of the letter:
"Refusal to allow your child to attend this trip will result in a Racial Discrimination note being attached to your child’s education record, which will remain on this file throughout their school career."

The school backtracked very quickly, but the message that many of the MailOnline readers heard was that this was an example of Islamic intolerance (despite no Islamic institution being involved). For example :
"Then tell all the Muslim schools THEY will all have to do the same regarding Christians ! This is a two way street remember......what's good for the goose."
"Outrageous behaviour by this head teacher (by the way, what is she teaching?). Perhaps she could kindly tell us when the Muslim children at her school last attended an Anglican church service as part of their education"
"So I trust same applies to the Muslim/Hindu kids attending a Christian Workshop?"
Which received the reply :
"Please leave Hindus out of it. I guarantee that 99% of them would have no problem attending a Christian workshop. Let's be clear about this, this is an exclusively MUSLIM problem."

BFTF sent off this to Staffordshire County Council:
"Just read the MailOnline report on the proposed Littleton Green School regarding a trip to see some Islamic artifacts. I am sure that the trip itself was a great idea, and that many people worked hard to make it happen. Indeed, as a Muslim, I personally curious to find out more about the artifacts that Staffordshire University has available. It is a shame that their efforts were undermined by an idiotically worded letter to parents, whose media coverage has now had the effect of making life just that little bit harder for Muslims across the UK. I hope schools in Staffordshire have learnt a lesson from this and do not try to bully parents in this way again."

And this to the Nottingham Community Cohesion Team:
"Just read a report of how a school in Staffs sent out a bullying letter to parents which had the effect of breaking down community cohesion between Muslims and wider society. Could you please make sure schools in Nottinghamshire don't do anything as stupid and counter-productive."



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