Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Demonisation in the Media

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Dec 13 : A story in the MailOnline about a vegetarian lady who "grew up in a Hindu household where none of the family eats meat" and was accidentally served a meat dish at a restaurant. BFTF suspects that the heandline would have been a lot more faith-centric had she grown up in a Muslim household: 'I feel like it is not my body anymore': Devastated vegetarian ate meat for the first time in her life - after Nando's served her chicken by mistake

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Dr Joel Hayward wins damages re MailOnSunday article
A MailOnSunday article in 2011 ran with the headline:

“Ayatollah of the RAF: Academic chief of RAF's 'university' is Muslim convert who has criticised NATO air strikes in Libya, claimed Nazi gas chambers were British propaganda and compared Churchill to Mohammed”.

The subject of the article,Dr Hayward, sued the paper, saying that story accused him of acting like an “Ayatollah” by giving Muslim cadets preferential treatment and making other students take a “softly, softly line when writing about Muslim terrorists or Islamic extremists”.

The MoS said that they "stood by their story"

In contrast, Minhaj-ul-Quran issued this statement supporting Dr Hayward, and including this comment:

"Dr Hayward has supported several Minhaj-ul-Quran International de-radicalisation workshops at which he has been very effective at explaining the motives and methods of terrorism as well as developing strategies for de-radicalising youth and hopefully preventing another terrorist atrocity. This is highly valuable work and it is unbelievable that Dr Hayward’s well-known efforts were not included in the character- assassination article."

In Oct 2013 the MailOnline had this "correction and clarification":

"On 7 and 8 August 2011 we suggested that the beliefs of Dr Joel Hayward, then the Dean of the RAF College Cranwell, prevented him from fulfilling his duty of impartiality and fairness as a teacher in the RAF by causing him to show undue favouritism to Islamic students and spend too much time on Islamic activities. We now accept that these allegations are untrue. We apologise to Dr Hayward and have paid a substantial sum to him in damages."

The take-home message from this story that BFTF takes is that the DailyMail "standing by its story" means nothing.

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Muslims in Texas
Not so much a story of demonisation as an example of how the MailOnline will - in its UK edition - trawl the entire world for examples of Muslims, and only Muslims, who show any sign of non-conformity with wider society. In this case, a Muslim in Texas....TEXAS !!.... had pork pieces put in her drinking straw by TGI staff when she sent back a Cobb Salad because it contained bacon (her bad, she should have read the menu, apparently is says that this salad contains bacon). The subtext to the story is "staff play a prank on a Muslim and, instead of taking a joke, she goes ballistic - see how touchy these Muslims are, they aren't like the rest of us"

Note also how the headline uses the words "devout Muslim", implying that it is only these "devout" types that we have a problem with, and who get all bent out of shape.

The UK edition of the MailOnline,
reaching out to Texas for stories about uppity Muslims

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Extremist Story was "fabricated"
Back in 2009, Glen Jenvey, described as "an extremely capable and knowledgeable analyst" by Tory MP Patrick Mercer, falsified a story about extremism which he submitted to news agency South West News, and was then picked up and run by the Sun newspaper. (see also here)

According to a statement by the newspaper "Jenvey told how he fabricated the list of Jewish targets by posing as a fundamentalist on an extremist website where he urged others to suggest names...He then leaked the made-up list to a trusted news agency, used by The Sun, and online forum Ummah.com was wrongly accused of being used to prepare a backlash against UK Jews."

Jenvey has also appeared on BBC2's Newsnight as a terror expert commenting on internet monitoring of extremist groups.

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Mar 2013 Prisoners Wives-BBC1
It was great to hear the Muslim greeting of "Assalamu alaikum" in this episode of "Prisoners Wives" as this routine greeting is so rarely voiced on mainstream TV. Unfortunately, in this case it was said by one a group of vicious prisoners (none of whom were asian incidentally, giving the impression that they were converts to the faith) to Gavin Allison, a young and vulnerable new inmate. The group forced Gavin to convert to Islam under threat of violence - but when Gavin spoke to the prison Imam, the Imam suggested that Gavin should think about it for a while and clearly had reservations about the group Gavin was hanging about with.

So, what's the take-home message here? Well, what BFTF took was the association of "Assalamu alaikum" (Peace be upon you) as being something that is said by violent young men. So sent this off the the BBC:
"It's rare to hear this greeting on TV - so when it happens the context is important. In this case it was made by violent prisoners forcing a young man to convert to Islam. I don't want this greeting to be associated with criminals in the minds of your viewers. So I hope you will ensure it is used elsehwere on the BBC in more postive contexts"


How abusive Christians, Hindus and Muslims are described in the Daily Mail
Former evangelical minister, 40, tormented his family to a 'total Victorian nightmare' of rape and psychological torture
"....A former evangelical church minister subjected his family to a 'total Victorian nightmare' of cruelty and sex abuse that saw him rape his wife and stepdaughter and cruelly humiliate his stepchildren.The 40-year-old man was a regular churchgoer but twisted the Bible's teachings to justify his behaviour, a trial at Gloucester Crown Court was told...."

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Doctor, 33, killed himself after parents objected to relationship with fellow medic because of 'cultural differences'
"A Doctor killed himself after splitting from his fiancee because his parents were worried that she wasn’t Indian. Dr Madhu Honnaiah, 33, injected himself with a lethal mix of his hospital’s own drugs after breaking up with fellow doctor Emma Wrighton, 32. An inquest heard his Indian family had been upset at the engagement because of the couple’s ‘cultural differences’"

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Rich Indian couple found guilty of slitting their 14-year-old daughter's throat and murdering servant, 45, after finding pair in 'compromising situation'
"An Indian court on Monday found a dentist couple guilty of murdering their 14-year-old daughter and a servant five years ago, in a dramatic finale to a case that transfixed the country and tapped unease on both sides of the rich-poor divide."

Note the absence of the word "Christian", "Hindu" etc in the headlines and the absence of terms such as "strict", "severe" etc. Now lets see how criminals who happen to be Muslim are treated in the media...

Muslim abuser who 'didn't know' that sex with a girl of 13 was illegal is spared jail
"...A muslim who raped a 13-year-old girl he groomed on Facebook has been spared a prison sentence after a judge heard he went to an Islamic faith school where he was taught that women are worthless..." is one of the subheadings,and only in the penultimate paragraph does the article admit that the "faith" of was an irrelevance when it reports that :

"But he [the Judge] said that Rashid knew what he was doing was wrong.‘It was made clear to you at the school you attended that having sexual relations with a woman before marriage was contrary to the precepts of Islam,’ he said."

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Jan 2013
Fox Made Me Do It : Randolph Linn, 52, from Indiana (USA) recently pleaded guilty to setting an Ohio Mosque on fire on Sep 20th 2012, causing $1million worth of damage. The mosque is the third largest in the US and has been in existence for 32years.

According to reports (see here and here), Linn told the judge that he had been spurred on by newspaper, radio and Fox News accounts that Muslims were killing "us" and were in control of the White House.

Reports from the trial state that Linn said that “Every day you turn on the TV, you see Muslims trying to kill Americans,” and, when asked whether he thought all Muslims are terrorists, Linn responded, “I’d say most of them are.”

The trial judge asked Linn "‘Do you know any Muslims or do you know what Islam is?’”, to which he responded ‘No, I only know what I hear on Fox News and what I hear on radio.’

US Attorney Steven M Dettelbach later said "U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the Northern District of Ohio, who said, “Religious freedom is at the core of our country, and we will continue to aggressively prosecute such hate crimes whenever and wherever the evidence warrants. This was a true joint effort to seek justice for these victims.”

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12th Dec 2012
The Headline(Mail Online): Former British Library manager, 29, jumped 80ft to her death from exclusive restaurant after her Western lifestyle was revealed on Facebook and exposed to strict Muslim parents.

The Implication: That "Strict Muslim Parents" are so unhinged, so ready for violence that their children prefer to commit suicide rather than publically going against them.

The Reality: Nowhere in the story does it suggest that the family of the unfortunate Rema Begum were a factor in her death. Perhaps a more likely reason is revealed by the paragraph stating that she "had been suffering from depression after losing her job as a manager at the British Library after a row with bosses at Christmas 2011, believed she was living an impure life and as punishment would not be allowed entry to paradise."

Without wishing to belittle the personal tragedy in these cases, BFTF notes that an almost identical story a few days later on 17th Dec 2012 involving a Hindu lady received a very different headline "Doctor, 33, killed himself after parents objected to relationship with fellow medic because of 'cultural differences'

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25th Jan 2012
The Headline(Mail Online):'Strict Muslim' raped four women at knifepoint to 'punish them for being on the streets at night'

The Implication: That "Strict Muslim" teaching is to assault women who do not conform.

The Reality: Nowhere in the story is there any evidence that the rapist was, in any way, a practicing Muslim - and indeed all the evidence of his behaviour suggests the exact opposite. BFTF has covered this story, including the utter pointlessness of complaining to the PCC, here and here

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