My latest blog post about the rise of far right extremism can be viewed on the Educate Against Hate website.
Dear Mr Gallagher
What sort of odious creatures are you employing at The Sun in the guise of professional journalist?
Are these people for real? Is this the only way they can find of ‘making it’ in a world where fame is judged by the number of friends on Facebook, followers on twitter or the number of retweets that you get?
Whatever their reasons, it is becoming more and more evident, that we are living in a world that is far too accepting of hatred towards Muslims, whether that comes in the form of abuse whilst travelling on the buses or from within our media. We are living in a world that once upon a time judged our ‘Britishness’ by which cricket team we supported, but as Baroness Warsi put it, has progressed to one where Islamophobia had passed the dinner-table test and become socially acceptable in the UK.
Forget the fact that Muslim women work in every walk of life from teachers, barristers, doctors, dentists and politicians. It would appear that whilst a Muslim woman can be Chair of the Conservative party, a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf can win British Bake Off and go on to bake a cake for Her Majesty The Queens 90th birthday party, a Muslim man can become Mayor of London. But Heaven forbid a Muslim woman wearing a scarf should be seen on mainstream television reporting on a terrorist atrocity without some hate fuelled tirade by a petty-minded bigot. And I use the word bigot very carefully after having been reminded a few times recently that ‘Muslims aren’t a race’. Muslims do however constitute the second largest world religion and in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 must not be discriminated against because of belonging to a particular religion or holding a particular philosophical belief.
However that is exactly what The Sun and your highly professional reporters appear to do on a regular basis. Why has this not been challenged? Why has this been allowed to continue – both by yourself as Editor in Chief, from your reporter Kelvin MacKenzie and us as British Muslims? Are OFCOM, the communications regulator, not able to see that there is something grossly wrong in the blatant messages certain media outlets are trying to put out there? The appalling language designed to divide communities, promote pure hatred and I believe incite physical and verbal abuse of Muslims has left me and many people disgusted and yes, fearful. Not only for our own safety but for that of our children, our families and our friends. The implication that there is no such thing as a good Muslim, that no Muslim should ever report on a terrorist attack or anything that is even remotely ‘Muslim related’ shows the pure stupidity and mindset of not only the people writing these things but the audience it is aimed at. So should a man never report on a rape attack on a woman? Should a white man never report on an incident of domestic violence by a white man? Or a person who is overweight not present a report on obesity? Was it ‘appropriate’ for a Muslim woman in a scarf to report on the Nice attack? Damn right it was because guess what. Fatima Manji is a highly skilled professional journalist working for Channel 4 and has absolutely nothing to do with a man who allegedly has a history of violence , domestic abuse , petty criminality and a religious affiliation that is highly questionable. She had nothing to do with the attack any more than I or the 1.6 billion peaceful, law abiding Muslims across the world did. It is not Channel 4 that hosts unprofessional journalists – I think we all know where they are currently residing. And Fatima Manji is the epitome of a professional British Muslim, let’s not forget that tiny fact in all this. Reporting of this nature is not only irresponsible it is contemptible and it is dangerous. So dangerous that it should be investigated by OFCOM and the police as it fuels the growing tide of far right extremism, it not only condones but promotes hatred and quite simply glorifies prejudice, division and racism. Should you be in any doubt at the rising levels of far right extremism currently facing our country, I suggest you take a look at Tell Mama’s most recent report ‘The Geography of Anti-Muslim Hate’ (http://tellmamauk.org/geography-anti-muslim-hatred-2015-tell-mama-annual-report/ ). Or just ask a Muslim woman next time you get to meet one.
People like yourself in positions of great authority have a duty to society around you to report responsibly and use your powers to create cohesive societies, not create more division. We should all be responsible for creating communities where the most vulnerable feel safe and secure. History has taught us the harsh realities of what happens when a group of people are targeted and turned into pariahs by their friends and neighbours. We have seen the destruction in Nazi Germany, Srebrenica and Rwanda. I hope you and your journalists at The Sun reflect on their words and the actions that they could potentially lead to.