Sunday, 29 September 2013

Jubel Miah is no "devout Muslim"

BFTF was left gobsmacked by the way the story of wife beater Jebel Miah was reported by the Daily Mail and The Telegraph recently.

Mr Miah, 21, and a convicted drug dealer, subjected his wife to a year long campaign of violence and intimidation before she finally escaped after being atacked with scissors and a dumbell.

All the available evidence suggests that Miah is a very nasty piece of work, and possibly has mental health issues.

Yet the Daily Mail managed to run with the headline " 'Devout Muslim' who dealt heroin subjected his wife to a year of 'hell' and terrorised her into wearing a veil after she said she wanted to go to college"

While The Telegraph ran with "Devout Muslim Jubel Miah battered wife and forced her to wear niqab"

BFTF send two complaints to the PCC (one regarding the Daily Mail article, one regarding the Telegraph article:

PCC Code (Item 1i) : "The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures."

The article, in its headline, chooses to use the words "devout Muslim" to describe a person who was a drug dealer and who bullied and beat his wife. The implication is that this is the kind of thing that "devout Muslims" do. Such an implication tars the whole British Muslim community, fans the fires of the far-right and is deeply damaging to community cohesion.

No evidence is presented in the article that Jubel Miah is, in any way, devout. Examples of such evidence would be that he prayed five times a day, or that he read the Quran regularly, or that he voluntered at his local mosque.

What is not evidence is, say, the defence counsel stating he was "devout" in a desperate bid to get a lighter sentence.

The Daily Mail article is written by Ted Thornhill, and BFTF wonders whether he realises the harm that headlines like this can cause. So BFTF sent him this:

"Dear Ted, Very disappointed by the headline on your article of 27th September "'Devout Muslim' who dealt heroin subjected his wife to a year of 'hell' and terrorised her into wearing a veil after she said she wanted to go to college" and the, similarly worded, lead paragraph of the aritcle as both of these associate being a "devout Muslim" with being a drug dealer and wife beater.

I can see no evidence that Jubel Miah was in any way "devout", nothing about praying 5 times a day, reading the Quran or helping at his local mosque - all of which are actions that might be evidence of being "devout".

Forcing your wife to wear a niqab under threat of violence doesn't make you devout, it just makes you a bully.

Associating being "devout" with the reprehensible behaviour of Miah tars the whole British Muslim community, fans the fires of the far-right and is deeply damaging to community cohesion.

I wonder whether you are actually aware of the harm that this kind of reporting does, hence this communication."


MailOnline headline

The Telegraph headline

Having said all that, and not withstanding the sympathy that is due to his victim and the others that have been harmed by his actions, there is a real injustice here - it is that his sentence was only 16 weeks, meaning he could be out in just 2 months.

Indeed, the Telegraph article quotes Rachel Horman, head of the domestic violence division at law firm Watson Ramsbottom, who said:
"The sentence is an insult to the victim and people will view the punishment as a slap on the wrist. . .There has been a prolonged 12-month ordeal, so why was only one charge brought? It's absolutely shocking and it makes me really angry. . . If this was an attack by a stranger in the street, I can guarantee it would have been a different story. Domestic violence is often undersentenced and too much blame is given to the victims."


BFTF cannot understand why the headline for the aricle was not something along the lines of:
"Thug who beat wife for a year given just a "slap on the wirst"


Also sent an email to local MP and Conservative Group saying that BFTF was "very angry" that, after all that came out in Leveson, this kind of reporting was still being allowed.

Update 24Nov13:Emails still going to and fro between BFTF, the PCC and MailOnline. But wonder whether should also have challenged on the basis of Item 12 : Discrimination:
i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story
Update Dec 2013
As previously mentioned, BFTF was left gobsmacked by the way the story of wife beater Jebel Miah was reported by the Daily Mail and The Telegraph earlier this year.

All the available evidence suggests that Miah is a very nasty piece of work, and possibly has mental health issues.

Yet the Daily Mail managed to run with the headline "'Devout Muslim' who dealt heroin subjected his wife to a year of 'hell' and terrorised her into wearing a veil after she said she wanted to go to college"

A complaint to the Press Complaints Council has resulted in the MailOnline changing their headline!! The outcome of the challenge has been published on the PCC website as a "resolved" complaint.
"Mr Ash Choudry complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had inaccurately described a convicted heroin dealer, who had bullied and beaten his wife, as a "devout Muslim", in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice.

Resolution:Although the newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code, the complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the words "devout Muslim" from the online article as a gesture of good will."

Indeed, the Daily Mail changed the description of Miah from "Devout Muslim" to "Heroin Dealer", which I think everyone can agree is a more accurate label.

From "Devout Muslim" to "Heroin Dealer"...

There were just two complainants to the PCC regarding this article. Which just shows that it does not take much to achieve a change, even in an online publication such as the DailyMail, which is one of the biggest internet news sites.

With this result in the bag, it is now time to go after the Telegraph and the source of the story, Reuters.

You, dear reader, can help achieve success here too, by contacting the PCC and/or by signing the petition below (which was very kindly set up Antonia Zenkevitch , who is involved in one of Nottingham's interfaith groups.)

The petition can be found at :
https://www.change.org/petitions/press-complaints-commission-the-telegraph-newspaper-the-daily-mail-domestic-abusers-are-not-devout

And the key section is perhaps this one:
We request that: The word 'devout' never be used to describe someone who batters another human (especially without evidence of how and if they practice their faith) Domestic Abusers are not devout - this is not just true of Islam. That the widespread issue of Domestic Violence is more accurately covered by the press and not attributed to minorities. That the press take care not to inflame religious hatred

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4 comments:

  1. Many thanks for doing this! If only more Muslims cared this much and showed such initiative!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your kind words. If you have not already done so, the best way you can make your wish come true is to challenge an article yourself ! (Pls remember to praise good content as well )
      BFTF

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  2. Allah reward you with the best of rewards for your efforts in defending Islam and Muslims for exposing the hate, misconceptions and lies - especially from the media. Please open a Twitter and Facebook accounts so people can be aware of these issues and even make mass level complaints or refutations when needed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Twitter and FB accounts are already set up, see top of page for links! The best way you can encourage people to take action is to challenge an article yourself! It's not hard to do. Please remember to give praise when you see good content too
      Regards BFTF

      Delete