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21 January 2011

Islamophobia & the British Press

A Briefing on Islamophobia & the British Press
- Sources, Basic Facts & the Wrong Questions

1.0 Cardiff School of Journalism (CSJ), Media and Cultural Studies
2.0 Greater London Authority under Ken Livingstone
3.0 Web links to over 2500 press news stories, analysis and comment
4.0 Conclusion and the right questions

The Media, in particular, the British Press, is blamed for Islamophobia. It continually publishes bad news and critical comment on Islam and Muslims.

Muslims say this is unjustified. The Press concentrates on negative stories that reflect badly on them and Islam, often twisting or exaggerating the news to show Muslims and Islam in a bad light. Even false stories are published.

Two studies are often quoted in regard to this issue:

(i) “Images of Islam in the UK - “The Representation of British Muslims in the National Print News Media 2000-2008” published by the Cardiff School of Journalism

(ii) “The Search for Common Ground: Muslims, non-Muslims and the UK Media” published by the Greater London Authority when Ken Livingstone was Mayor of London.

There may be other studies but these two are available publically and are frequently referenced in discussions on Islamophobia and the press. Summaries of their findings are given below.

(iii) Web links to over 2500 press news stories, analysis and comment Another source dedicated to recording what the Press and Media publish concerning Islam and Muslims is the LibertyPhile website which gives brief extracts and web links to over 2500 such news stories, analysis and comment in British and International media over the last two years.

This is also discussed below.

1.0 Cardiff School of Journalism (CSJ), Media and Cultural Studies

“Images of Islam in the UK - The Representation of British Muslims in the National Print News Media 2000-2008” Kerry Moore, Paul Mason and Justin Lewis, July 2008

1.1 What CSJ did

(1) A content analysis of 974 newspaper articles about British Muslims in the British Press from 2000 to 2008

(2) An analysis of the visuals/images used in articles about British Muslims in the British Press in 2007 and 2008;

(3) A series of case studies of stories about British Muslims in the British Press.

This Briefing covers (1) and (3)

1.2 Newspaper content analysis


CSJ searched the Lexis Nexis database of British newspapers for all stories about British Muslims from 2000 to the end of May 2008. This yielded around 23,000 stories (shown by year in Table 1 below).

Finding 1 - The volume of coverage of British Muslims

The coverage of British Muslims in the British Press increased dramatically after 11th September, 2001. Another significant increase occurred in 2005, the year of the 7th July attacks, although coverage continued to increase further in 2006, reaching a level 12 times higher than in 2000. See Table 1

Table 1 - Stories about British Muslims over time

YearNumber of Stories

This chart illustrates the figures.

Vertical bar chart

CSJ say that these figures suggest that:

1. The increase in coverage of British Muslims from 2000 to 2008 is clearly related to the terrorist attacks in 2001 and 2005, however:

2. It has also developed a momentum of its own, lasting well beyond and independent of these highly newsworthy events.

As will be shown below the ‘war on terror’ has become a long-running story in its own right, though recent years have seen the growth of other related topics, notably cultural differences between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain.

Finding 2 - The context in which British Muslims appear in the news

The stories from the Lexis Nexis database were used to construct a sample of just under a thousand articles (974) which were selected from five alternate years from 2000 to 2008.

By selecting alternate years CSJ avoided the terrorist attacks in September 2001 and July 2005 while capturing the longer term aftermath of those events and focusing on routine, everyday coverage of British Muslims.

CSJ categorised all the stories in this sample by "news hook", the main focus of the story or the element that makes it newsworthy. The three most common ‘news hooks’ for stories about British Muslims accounted for more than two thirds of stories. These were:

• Terrorism or the war on terror, accounting for 36% of all stories.

This involved stories about terrorism trials, stories about the ‘war on terror’ and about hostage taking, although most of the stories in this category were about terrorism more generally, rather than a specific terrorist event.

• Religious and cultural issues, accounting for 22%

This included discussions of Sharia Law, debates about the wearing of veils, dress codes, forced marriages, the role of Islam in Britain and the Danish cartoon story. These stories generally highlighted cultural differences between British Muslims and other British people.

• Muslim extremism, accounting for 11%

Stories about Abu Hamza, as the single most newsworthy British Muslim, were especially prominent in this category.

A summary for all news hooks is given in Table 2 below.

Table 2 - Prominence of news hooks in alternate years from 2000 to 2008

News Hook20002002200420062008
Religious cultural issues208122732
Muslim extremism38141110
Politics & public affairs1088108
Immigration & asylum03112
Violence & attacks against Mulsims105931
Social unrest & community relations136772

Finding 3 - What is said about Muslims

CSJ looked for specific kinds of statements or ideas – ‘discourses’ – used repeatedly in the coverage of British Muslims.

In their sample of 974 stories, they found 1412 instances of particular discourses. As these figures suggest, many stories contained more than one discourse.

The most commonly used discourses about British Muslims in order of importance are shown below in Table 3

Table 3 – Most common discourses

DiscourseUsed in % of Stories% of all Discourses Used
Muslims linked to the threat of terrorism3423
Islam as dangerous, backward or irrational2617
Islam as part of multiculturalism1711
A clash of civilisations between Islam & the West1410
Islam as a threat to a British way of life97

Four of the five most common types of discourses (accounting for 68% of all discourses instances) associate Islam and Muslims with threats, problems or in opposition to dominant British values.

Other discourses included: failure of multiculturalism (7%); defence of Muslim human rights (6%); gender inequality (4%); Islam outmoded (4%); Islam is peaceful (3%); dominant moral values supported by Muslims (2%); and, Islam as a threat to human rights (1%).

CSJ’s conclusions from contents analysis

1. Coverage of British Muslims has increased over the period from 2000 to 2008.

The initial rise is clearly tied to the increase in terrorism and terrorism related stories and they continue to account for nearly a third of all stories in later years of the study period 2006 – 2008.

However, since the initial rise, the proportion of stories on religious and cultural issues has also grown and become more important reaching nearly a third of all stories in the later years

2. The bulk of coverage of British Muslims focuses on Muslims as a threat (in relation to terrorism), a problem (in terms of differences in values) or both (Muslim extremism in general).

1.3 Case Studies

Given their statistical nature, and as far as one can tell, the professional research procedure of the CSJ team, the above results are likely to be objective whatever the views or prejudices of the CSJ people.

This cannot be said of the case studies part. It is clearly not objective. It is a very one-sided account of just five news reports and the reader is given only the CSJ interpretation.

Four of these news reports were:

In-Bred Muslims

This concerned the report of a politician saying “...levels of disability among the...Pakistani population are higher than the general population. And everybody knows it’s caused by first cousin marriage.”

CSJ complained about newspaper headlines that followed such as “‘Inbred’ Muslim warnings” and “Outrage at inbred Muslims warning; more disabled babies born” and they said “We found no medical backing for this claim”.

They didn’t look very hard. According to a later report “ …. a professor, has called for greater awareness about the impact of first cousin marriages on children of said unions: …. British Pakistanis represent 3 per cent of all births in Britain but one third of children with recessive disorders.” See here.

Nazi UK

Though Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, then head of the Muslim Council of Britain, when interviewed by the Daily Telegraph never used the word Nazi, he was accused in very strong terms of comparing Britain to Nazi Germany. Headlines included “Fury as Muslim brands Britain 'Nazi”, “Comparisons to Nazi Germany inaccurately reflect Muslim status in Britain”.

What he actually said was: "Every society has to be really careful so the situation doesn't lead us to a time when people's minds can be poisoned as they were in the 1930s.”.

CSJ might have posed the question what did Dr Bari actually have in mind when referring to the 1930s? Was it high unemployment, the abdication crisis, or was it just possibly the Nazi persecution of the Jews?

Sharia Law in Britain

Dr Rowan William, the Archbishop of Canterbury, suggested that aspects of Sharia law could be adopted in the UK. CSJ are highly critical of the storm of protest that this met: his remarks were decontextualised, exaggerated; Sharia was equated with brutal punishments; the Archbishop was delegitimised, he was ridiculed, the Star called him “a prize chump”.

CSJ might have paid some attention to the large volume of well-informed criticism of the Archbishop’s speech and what it might or might not have meant and they could have mentioned that judges in the House of Lords described Sharia rules on child custody as ‘arbitrary and discriminatory’ or considered the letter that one Muslim woman wrote to the papers:

"Sir, I shudder to think of the repercussions for Muslim women if British law recognises decisions made by Sharia councils .... For Sharia judges to question a woman’s motives for divorce and pressure her socially and financially to remain in an unfulfilling and possibly dangerous marriage is antiquated at best and deadly at worst. Decisions made by Sharia councils have no room in British law." See here.

And they could have mentioned how Muslim women in Canada fought successfully against Sharia family tribunals.

‘No-Go’ Areas - Self Segregation and Colonisation from Within

The then Bishop of Rochester, Dr Nazir Ali, wrote a comment article that criticised the ‘novel philosophy of “multiculturalism”’ and warned of the emergence of ‘nogo’ areas for non-Muslims in certain areas of the UK.

CSJ complain the ‘”Nogo” areas’ story … invokes a proactively ‘self-segregating’ Muslim community within Britain: an alien culture colonising Britain from within and dismissive of extant British norms and practices”.

As would be journalists you might think the CSJ authors of this study would have gone to a so-called nogo area to examine the truth of Dr Ali’s comments. If they did it isn’t mentioned.

They might have interviewed non-Muslims like the vicar’s wife who calls her account of her stay in a part of Birmingham “A stranger in my own land” and how local police described the neighbourhood to her as a “no-go” area.

2.0 Greater London Authority under Ken Livingstone

“The search for common ground: Muslims, non-Muslims and the UK media” November 2007

2.1 What was done

• a survey of the news in one week (based on 352 news articles)
• consideration of stories about political correctness
• analysis of a TV documentary.

• a review of recent opinion polls
• study of recent books and articles
• interviews with Muslim journalists

This study was carried out by a team of people who were very likely to have prior or strong views on the subject of Islamophobia, and included for example, the person responsible for media relations at the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), and various authors of works concerning Islamophobia. Not what you would call an objective or neutral team.

2.2 Survey of news in one week


(Then) Mayor Livingstone gave pride of place, from amongst all the studies findings, to the finding that in a typical week 91% of the news articles in the UK press mentioning Muslims or Islam were negative.

“I commissioned this study to examine the role of the media in promoting or harming good community relations with London’s Muslim communities.

One of the most startling findings of this report is that in one typical week in 2006, over 90 per cent of the media articles that referred to Islam and Muslims were negative. The overall picture presented by the media was that Islam is profoundly different from and a threat to the west”.

This finding sounds right especially from Mr Livingstone’s point of view although it was not a typical week. It was w/b 8 May 2006 the last two days of which saw the publication of reports on the London bombings of July 2005.

This 91% result might be compared with the CSJ finding that 68% of news discourses about Muslims in Britain in the British press associate Islam and Muslims with threats, problems or in opposition to dominant British values.

Table 4 - Positive, neutral or negative associations by newspaper

TitleAssociation of Articles
-% Negative % Neutral % Positive No. of Articles
Financial Times896537

Table 5 - News content of story

News ContentNumberPercentage %
Bombs on the 7 July6920
Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Afghanistan11733
Other terror (e.g., hijackers)5416
Total terror related24069
Naseen, women, Abu Qatada, human rights, Islamic schools, Somalia, crime, Egypt, Muslim world, Pakistan6931

Over two thirds of the stories are about terrorism in Britain and about Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and it is difficult to see how the reporting could put any of that in a positive light.

There is something else quite remarkable about these figures which the study fails to mention (and you can understand why). In this “typical week” the Daily Express compared with all other newspapers has the HIGHEST percentage of stories about Islam or Muslims that are positive or neutral.

Now also, if there were good stories to report about Islam and Muslims you might reasonably expect the Independent and the Guardian to report them and this to show up in their percentage breakdown in Table 4.

The Guardian website CiF is famous for publishing the views of Muslim spokespeople and propagandists. And the study team included a current and a former journalist of the Guardian (Hugh Muir and Laura Smith) the only journalists on the team.

But no, the pattern of negative stories is much the same as for other newspapers. The Guardian mustered 15% positive or neutral and the Independent 10% against the Express’ 29%.

2.2 Consideration of stories

The study claims that a theme has developed in the British media that British society and the British way of life are under threat.

It examines a handful - four news stories in total in relation to relatively trivial incidents - that are mostly caused by politically correct British non-Muslims implementing policies or taking actions which they think will please Muslims but which only serve to anger the great majority of British non-Muslims.

The point here of course is that Muslims are not really to blame. It’s the misguided interference of the British non-Muslim politically correct, and the stories are twisted so as to blame Muslims.

The stories are

• the alleged banning of piggy banks by a building society in a Lancashire town

• the alleged banning of Christmas by a local council in London

• the use of BP (Before Present) instead of BC (Before Christ) at a museum in the West country

• the Crown Prosecution Service taking a 10-year-old boy to court for playground insults in Salford.

The study shows these stories were either false or based on embellishment and twisting of innocent facts.

There is no excuse for bad journalism or for twisting facts to suit a preconceived idea.

What the study doesn’t touch on and seems to deliberately steer clear of is the continual and vast flow of stories about what Muslims themselves say and do, the many true stories, ranging from the ridiculous to the sinister, that the British public have good cause to see as “threats to the British way of life”.

● Marks & Spencer shop assistant refuses to sell book of Bible stories.

● Imam’s daughter threatened with death because she converted to Christianity.

● British government recognises polygamy. [Department for Work and Pensions recognises polygamous marriages that are conducted overseas in regard to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.]

● Muslim staff in supermarket refuse to serve alcohol.

● PC forced to resign because he gave Muslim colleague bottle of wine and pack of bacon for a Christmas present. [An imam asked his view said what a crime this was, insulting Islam, and another Muslim commentator wondered what the Muslim policeman was doing at a Christmas party.]

● Female Muslim students refuse to shake hands with university Chancellor at degree awards ceremony.

● Girl murdered because she refused arranged marriage.

● Muslim medical students refuse to treat illness caused by alcohol.

As if to reveal the political bias of the study the authors say ….

…. even though real fears exist. These arise not from so-called political correctness, nor from the presence of Muslims in modern Britain, but from social and economic change, globalisation, and new international relationships.

2.3 Analysis of a TV documentary

The study has a whole chapter devoted to the MCB’s complaints about a Panorama TV programme. The chapter takes up 23 pages, almost a fifth of the study. It continues the theme of how the UK media misrepresents Muslims and it makes a number of complaints. One of these, typical of their feebleness, is discussed below.

A section of the programme spoke about Sayid Mawdudi who was described as ‘the ideologue and founder of a party that ‘wants Pakistan to become an Islamic state governed by sharia holy law. The programme presenter went on to say and quote: ‘In Mawdudi’s ideal Islamic state, private and public life would be inseparable. In this respect it would bear “a kind of resemblance to the fascist and communist states”’

The MCB did not like the association with the fascism and communism. After an accusatory exchange of letters with the BBC the MCB reached the conclusion:

“The BBC’s response demonstrated that Mawdudi’s words had been quoted accurately, but only in a limited and strictly literal sense. However, the words ‘fascism’ and ‘communism’ carry negative connotations for most people in Britain. The effect of using a very brief quotation was, therefore, to highlight references to these two political systems and to exaggerate the parallels with Islam, thereby transferring to Islam the negativity that fascism and communism connote."

So after all the fuss the MCB agree there is a parallel complaining only that it carried “negative connotations". The original and accurate quote also contained the words “a kind of” so the presenter was fair to the original author’s comparison.

3.0 Web links to over 2500 press news stories, analysis and comment

The great advantage of the LibertyPhile website is that you can read news stories and judge their significance and credibility for yourself.

It provides weekly collections of extracts and web links to news stories, analysis and comment about Islam and Muslims in the British and English language media especially the press and the web.

Items are categorised by issue and topic.

Attitudes (of non-Muslims and Muslims, based on professional surveys and polls); Beliefs & Practices; Education & Knowledge; Freedom of Speech; Getting Along Together (or Not); Integration or Multiculturalism; Islam & Europe; Organisations & Politics; Islamic Reform & Moderation; Sharia; Women & Islam.

There are, at this time, more than 2500 extracts and links gathered over the last two years.

Unlike the above studies LibertyPhile deliberately excludes terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian problem and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. These are all issues of great concern but they are covered extensively elsewhere and sometimes crowd out the important issues listed above.

Sources include: Guardian, BBC, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Reuters, AP, AFP, Reuters – FaithWorld, Standpoint, New Statesman, RNW (Dutch Radio News), Spielgel Online, regional papers such as Manchester Evening News, swissinfo, The Australian, Wall Street Journal, Sydney Morning Herald, The Boston Globe, and many more, and many leading news and political blogs.

4.0 Conclusion and the right questions

It is undoubtedly true that by far the greater part of the news and comment about Islam and Muslims in the British press and other media reflects badly on Islam and Muslims.

The two studies described above simply confirm what people know.

The studies also complain that stories are unfair and give a few examples but neither attempts to address the fact that a proportion, the great majority, possibly nearly all, of these news stories and comments, are an accurate reflection of reality.

And, there is no evidence to suggest that large numbers of neutral or favourable stories are being ignored.

The simple truth is that Muslims inspired by their faith do and say a great number of things from the trivial to the very important that annoy, puzzle or repulse non-Muslims.

The problem has little to do with the media and a lot to do with Muslims.

20 January 2011

Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime

A Review: Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK case studies 2010 - An introduction to a ten year Europe-wide research project

By Robert Lambert and Jonathan Githens-Mazer. Published by European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC), University of Exeter.

(1) What is anti-Muslim hate crime?
(2) Extremist nationalists are the major problem (or are they?)
(3) Origins
(4) Glaring omissions
(5) Anti-Muslim hate crime
(6) Recommendations
(7) Who and what

This is a political report. It is about ….

…. blaming the British Government, the media, and the War on Terror for being the major causes of anti-Muslim hate crime.

…. promoting the interests of so-called traditional Muslim organisations in an attempt to hi-jack the issue of anti-Muslim hate crime to promote their worldview at the expense of other Muslim voices and views.

…. attacking Muslims and organisations that don’t meet the approval of the Muslim organisations behind the EMRC.

…. ignoring any Muslim beliefs or practices as a factor in anti-Muslim hate-crime and Islamophobia.

(1) What is anti-Muslim hate crime?

The authors are at great pains to define anti-Muslim hate crime as something different and separate from hate crime inspired by Islamophobia, an irrational fear of Islam.

Many of the Muslims surveyed in the course of the EMRC’s work have been attacked because they were perceived as terrorists or terrorist sympathisers. Their attackers often made this very clear. This means they were not attacked because of their religion. Islam itself is not involved.

The authors claim that the British Government and the media have triggered this violence through the misconceived War on Terror.

“…. it was the prosecution and presentation of the war on terror by government and media …. that prompted an outbreak of anti-Muslim street violence …” (p53)

And they say:

“… The al-Qaeda related threat has been the subject of vast, unprecedented expenditure over the last decade and yet it has not diminished.”

“In contrast, the threat of terrorism and political violence to Muslim communities and other minority communities from violent extremist nationalists has grown steadily ….” (p78) [emphasis added]

Thus, they believe that Muslims face “terrorism and political violence” akin to the terrorism and political violence of al-Qaeda from the likes of the EDL and the BNP.

(2) Extremist nationalists are the major problem (or are they?)

The authors believe the Government must commit as much effort to defeating extremist nationalism as it does to defeating al-Qaeda and international terrorism.

“…. we argue that the government should treat both terrorist threats with equal importance and in the same way.” (p79)

“In both instances small fringe groups and individuals seek to resort to political violence and terrorist tactics as a compensation for their impotence in mainstream politics.” (p97) [emphasis added]

So the EDL and the BNP and their followers are to be compared with an international organisation funded by billions of dollars that has violence on a large scale as its deliberate policy and that aims amongst other things to overthrow governments and to destroy a whole nation state, Israel, and that tries to get its hands on biological or nuclear weapons.

The report goes on, perhaps unintentionally, to throw a different light on the issue.

“The majority of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the UK do not appear to be committed by members or supporters of the EDL, BNP or their sister organisations ….”

“…. there is clear evidence that many anti-Muslim hate crimes are motivated by an identical analysis of ‘radical Islam’ or ‘Muslim terrorists’ to that which informs EDL, BNP and extremist nationalist thinking.” (p97)

We now learn the main perpetrators of anti-Muslim hate crime aren’t supporters of the EDL and the BNP and “radical Islam” is a factor. What is this radical Islam? The report does not explain.

The report claims that al-Qaeda’s aims are not religious or ideological. They are political. This is really another way of trying to take Islam out of the equation

“ …. the al-Qaeda threat (is) “political, not primarily religious, military, or even conventionally ideological” (p81)

This analysis that politics is separate from religion and ideology is rich indeed coming from these authors whose partner organisations make so much of their aim and ideal of pursuing politics “informed by Islam”.

(3) Origins

The authors portray 9/11 as the start and the War on Terror as the underlying cause of anti-Muslim hate crime.

“…. the deterioration since 9/11 has been so marked that they recall the 1990s as a bygone time when Islam was widely respected and mosques were no more likely to be attacked than any other religious building in the UK.” (p42)

A contributor to the report, Chris Allen, an Islamophobia expert, unintentionally shows this might be misleading. He discusses his introduction to Islamophobia in 1997 shortly after the publication of the Commission on British Muslims & Islamophobia’s report, Islamophobia: a challenge for us all, four years before 9/11. He says:

“.... real people were being routinely prejudiced, discriminated and vilified just because of their religion or how they look? Why, more worryingly, were we allowing people to become victims of crime, abuse, assault and more ….? “

Back in 1997, the report spoke of how “Islamophobia’ …. is part of everyday life in modern Britain”. ( p56)

According to this expert Islamophobia was making Muslims the “victims of crime, abuse, assault” well before 9/11. He offers no explanation of why this was happening but it is reasonable to suppose that Muslims at that time were not especially perceived as terrorists or terrorist sympathisers.

(4) Glaring omissions

It truly is amazing that a report examining anti-Muslim hate crime and Islamophobia fails to mention Salman Rushdie and the Danish Cartoons. Not one word.

Kenan Malik author of “From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy” which puts the fatwa into perspective and explains the pivotal role it played in Muslim non-Muslim relations especially in the UK gets mentioned, but this is only to attack him for his observation “that after 9/11 only a dozen or so serious physical attacks on British Muslims were clearly evidenced” and questioning the extent to which “a climate of vicious Islamophobia” was a reality in contemporary Britain.

Inayat Bunglawala, a former spokesperson of the MCB, one of the partners to this report, at the time trilled at how the fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie demonstrated to non-Muslims that Muslims were people to be reckoned with, but now nearly twenty years later he is having second thoughts. [Note 1]

The people behind the EMRC cannot contemplate even for a few milliseconds that these events and others like them have given non-Muslims cause to dislike Islam and mistrust Muslims.

(5) Anti-Muslim hate crime

The report provides case material that illustrates the total nastiness of blameless citizens being assaulted in the street or in their homes, and mosques and religious buildings vandalised and attacked in life threatening ways.

You might reasonably expect that after a year in which to produce this massive report the EMRC would give a better account than the one given of the scale of anti-Muslim hate crime and Islamophobia. They might have covered:

What is the trend, who really are the victims and the culprits, what is the breakdown by different types of anti-Muslim hate crime, how does it compare with anti-Semitism and animosity towards immigrants, are the perpetrators caught and how are they punished?

But the account you get is seriously lacking and brief. You get just a few pages. (pp99-104)

There is no analysis of existing statistics and how they might be improved, only a vague dismissal. The complaint is made that anti-Muslim hate crime is probably under reported, which seems likely, and of course it would apply to other victims of hate crime, such as Jews and immigrants.

(5.1) Individuals

No quantification or perspective is given at all on anti-Muslim hate crime against individuals. The report says that interviewing took place. It doesn’t mention how many interviews, how they were carried out or how the respondents were chosen, all standard procedure in professional research, so that the results can be fairly assessed. It simply takes the opportunity to repeat its claim that 9/11 was the turning point.

“The phenomenon of increased suspicion, hostility, bigotry, intimidation and violence towards Muslims in the UK can be traced back to 9/11. In the last twelve months we have interviewed Muslims …. and there is already significant evidence to suggest that 9/11 marks a dramatic and negative shift in attitudes and behaviour towards Muslims.”

…. and again accuse the Government and media.

“The terrorist act of 9/11 itself is … insufficient explanation for a discernable rise in anti-Muslim hostility and violence but rather a necessary, explanatory condition.”

“ …. Most significant was a majority of mainstream UK political and UK media analysis and reporting that identified the suicide bombers’ motivation as being grounded in Islam or a particular rendition of Islam.” (p99)

Read this quote at least twice and take in its full perversity.

The authors offer no method of dealing with this “problem”. Could it be that all media are subject to a super injunction that forbids any mention of a terrorist’s religion, or any reference they make to religion, or that all such terrorist news must be accompanied by a disclaimer that any Islam referred to is not the real Islam but some other Islam?

It would make reports of the latest Danish cartoon outrage [Note 2] very odd. “Five young men set out to gun down as many people as possible at the office of cartoon publisher: cartoons were not funny!”

(5.2) Mosques and Islamic centres

The EMRC research shows that between 40-60% of 1600 mosques, Islamic centres and Muslim organisations in the UK have suffered at least one attack since 9/11. Attacks include petrol bombs, assaults on imams, bricks thrown through windows, pigs heads fixed to mosque entrances, death threats, other threatening and abusive messages and vandalism. No breakdown is given.

The authors say at their lowest estimate this is 1000 hate crime attacks on at least 700 Islamic places since 9/11. They could also mention that this is just over 100 attacks a year, two a week throughout the whole country, many of which could be abusive messages or vandalism and concern Mosques that have been in the news for outrageous statements by their imams.

All these figures are based on a survey of 1000 questionnaires. No details of this questionnaire are given. The questions, the method of completion, that would be expected in any professional survey.

This is all you get, these key matters are given barely half a page (see p104) but the authors say they “aim to have a clearer picture by the 11th September 2011”. The 11th September at the time this report was published (November 2009) was a year away.

The deliberate mention of this date beggars belief and signals again the authors fixation with 9/11 and their twisted thinking.

You might also wonder why the EMRC is a 10 year project if there is an urgent anti-Muslim hate crime problem today. It would be better to spend the money spent on the EMRC and the authors on a survey of Muslims carried out by a professional survey organisation such as Gallup (who have a Muslim unit) or Pew.

It would also be instructive to interview in a representative way those who actually commit anti-Muslim hate crime, another notable omission from the EMRC’s work.

Since this report was published an All-Party Group on Islamophobia has been formed and hopefully they will give the subject more urgency and indeed examine professionally and objectively the scale and causes of anti-Muslim hate crime and Islamophobia and what to do about it, which this massive tome has egregiously failed to do.

(5.3) Never mind the quality feel the width

This fleeting treatment of the central problem is striking contrast to space given to topics that are peripheral or irrelevant.

Immediately following the Mosque survey section there are three pages (compared with the half page on the Mosque survey results) discussing the details of petrol bombs and in particular the use accelerant. Robert Lambert, one of the co-authors, is an ex-policeman, and one might easily think he donated his notebook to the report.

At the beginning of the report we get a three and a half page hagiography of Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, a former leader of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and currently Chairman of the board of trustees at the East London Mosque (ELM), six times as much space as the Mosque survey.

We get a three page tutorial on Tariq Ramadan’s ideas.

We even get a whole part, Part 5 of the report, 20 pages (a tenth of the entire report, that’s right one tenth!) devoted to a one sided justification of the recent political career of Councillor Lutfur Rahman, the controversial Muslim mayor of Tower Hamlets. What, you wonder, has this to do with anti-Muslim hate crime?

(6) Recommendations

You might expect the final part of the report, Part 6, “Responses and Recommendations” to bring together practical suggestions on dealing with anti-Muslim hate crime and Islamophpobia but it doesn’t.

Instead you get an attack on the previous and current Governments for dealing with the wrong Muslims. It is obsessed with the possible influence of several individuals and the think-tank Policy Exchange and its neo-conservative ideology. The Government should be dealing with the Muslims behind this report.

“…. the previous government sought to delegitimize politically active Muslim organisations…. The motivation for such counter-productive and discriminatory government policy is premised on the negative Policy Exchange analysis of political Islam …. Most notably, in 2009 Hazel Blears severed links with the Muslim Council of Britain.” (p199)

The authors don’t bother to mention why the Government severed links with the MCB. Daud Abdullah, the deputy secretary general of the MCB signed a declaration concerning Palestine supporting violence against foreign forces – which could include British naval personnel. [Note 3]

Part 6 is divided into three sections: (1) Partnership or Exclusion, covering who the Government should deal with, which takes up 93%, 1940 words; (2) Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: Urgent Government Action, taking up 3%, 61 words; and (3) Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: Urgent Community Action and Funding Needed, 4%, 91 words.

A nice reflection of the authors’ priorities.

(7) Who and what

The report makes clear whose agenda it follows “…. We hope that this report will provide evidence to assist our partners in the MCB, The Cordoba Foundation, Forward Thinking and Engage”.

But what do these organisations stand for? Several statements give clues.

“…. the voices of …. Muslims, who do not support assimilation, are silenced or ridiculed’. (p53)

“…. the “integration agenda of the British government is less about addressing terrorism and more about Muslims giving up their Islamic values.” (p194)

“…. they are told …. that Muslims must abandon any notion that Islam informs their politics before they can be accepted.” (p200)

“…. against accommodating ‘traditionalists’ …. appears to mean any seriously practicing Muslim.” (p201)

“…. Islam and strict adherence to Islam pose[s] a threat to the safety, cohesion and well being of communities and countries in Europe.” (p203)

So what are these Islamic values and what does strict adherence to Islam entail? What does a seriously practicing Muslim do and believe?

• Should animals be stunned before they are slaughtered? And should halal meat be labelled to say whether or not stunning has taken place.

• What do they think about stoning to death for adultery? That is, torturing someone to death. Inayat Bunglawala, a former spokesperson of the MCB and connected with Engage, doesn’t agree with it in the UK but thinks it is OK if people in other countries want it. [Note 4]

• Do they agree with the 51% of British Muslims who say a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim? [Note 5]

• Do they agree with the 31% of British Muslims who agree conversion is punishable by death. [Note 5] In Pakistan, the country of origin of many British Muslims 76% favour the death penalty for apostasy. [Note 6]

• It should be easy for a man to divorce his wife, but very difficult for a wife to divorce her husband. Muslim women who seek divorce are subjected to an interview process, pressured to remain married and risk losing quite possibly their only financial wealth by being forced to return their dower.

• Child custody should always favour the man. Judges in The House of Lords described Sharia rules on child custody as ‘arbitrary and discriminatory’.

• Death was too good for Salman Rushdie.

• There should be a parallel legal system (Sharia Courts) for Muslims in which women have inferior rights to men, in property division and inheritance for example, and there are no female “judges”. Nearly a quarter of judges in UK courts are female and in magistrate courts it is half.

• It is completely forbidden to make or publish a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad and that such activity even by a non-Muslim should be severely punished.

• Despite the intense British and European dislike of people in public hiding their face it is just fine for Muslim women to wear the veil. [Note 7]

• National exams such as GCSE and A Level should be moved so they don’t clash with Ramadan.

• It is not the business of Muslims or Mosques to tackle “radical Islam”. [Note 8]

• As Islam is a comprehensive system of worship and legislation (Sharia) there is no need for man-made laws at all and all Muslims must work to that end.

• Democracy is a good thing but once Muslims obtain power that is the end of democracy if it means not implementing Sharia.

Where do seriously practicing Muslims stand on the teachings of Syed Mawdudi the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, the South Asian Islamist party:

“our goal is to create the True Believer. To then mobilise believers into an organised force for change who will carry out da’wah, hisbah and jihad. This will lead to social change and iqamatud-Deen (an Islamic social, economic and political orde).”

“merely believing in God is not enough. Muslims have a sacred duty, wherever you are, in whichever country you live, you must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize powers to rule and make laws from those who do not fear God”.

The MCB agrees that it is accurate to say that Mawdudi believed “…. in [an] ideal Islamic state, private and public life would be inseparable. In this respect it would bear “a kind of resemblance to the fascist and communist states” They just don’t like anyone mentioning it. [Note 9]

And regarding practical examples of Islamically informed politics we have plenty from Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia ….


Note 1 - Extract from: A timely reminder

Those of us – including me – who marched and called for the book to be pulped/banned were in the wrong. Calls for pulping or banning the book gave rise to understandable fears about increased censorship and intolerance. A more sensible response would have been to just ignore the book or to write a proper rejoinder pointing out Rushdie's shortcomings in his fictional treatment of the Prophet Muhammad and allow readers to then make up their own minds.

Read complete item here

Note 2 - See: Denmark holds 'Muhammad cartoon plotters'

Note 3 - Extract from: The Guardian and Islamism - is anybody counting?

Following exchanges between the MCB and the Government, The Guardian published a statement by Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, which said:

“ ...we have been asking the MCB to find out whether their deputy secretary general, Dr Abdullah, attended the conference and signed the statement. The MCB has now confirmed he did attend and did sign the declaration. A declaration that supports violence against foreign forces – which could include British naval personnel – as the prime minister has offered British naval support to stop the smuggling of weapons to Gaza; and advocating attacks on Jewish communities all around the world."

Read complete item here

Note 4 - Extract from: Stoning to death for adultery

[Joan Smith on Inayat said][But during a public debate in London two weeks ago, he refused my invitation to condemn unequivocally the practice of stoning women to death for adultery. It had happened during the lifetime of the Prophet, he said, "so you are asking me to condemn my Prophet”]

[Inayat today says][I don't actually support stoning for adulterers although as I have stated several times, I respect the right of people in other countries to choose their own legal systems.]

So you are saying your Prophet supported stonings and that you wont condemn your prophet (PBUH), so the natural reaction here is that you support it because you support your Prophet. Either you believe the Prophet was wrong on the issue of stoning or you personally support it (though you dont want it here). So which is it, was the Prophet wrong or do you personally support it?

As mentioned by another poster, your stance here talks a lot of respecting peoples right to choose what laws they like. Would you "respect" the right of British people to pass extremely anti-Islam laws? No, of course you wouldnt, you would be up in arms on these very pages, as we all well know. Stop dodging and diving, Inayat.

Is stoning wrong, or is the Prophet wrong

Read complete item here

Note 5 - See: Living Apart Together – British Muslims and the paradox of multiculturalism

Note 6 - See: Support for Harsh Laws (Including Death for Apostasy)

Note 7 - Extract from: Joint statement about the veil from Muslim groups, scholars

…. We understand the viewpoint of those who may find the veil a barrier to communication. However, we believe that the level of discomfort caused is insignificant ....

…. We ask all society to deal with the Muslim community without prejudice, and to exercise genuine openness and tolerance towards Islamic practices, even those they may not like, as this is the real test of tolerance to others. [Emphasis added]

Read complete item here

[Comment by Reviewer] So in this statement, signed amongst others, by Dr Bari, when he was leader of the MCB, the British are being told they can get stuffed when it comes to the veil. It’s our tolerance that is being tested.

Perhaps a more reasonable view would have been to say “as so many British find hiding the face rude, you are trying to hide something - you only do it if you are ill, very cold, or in mourning – and it isn’t a religious obligation to wear the veil, very few Muslim women actually do, we strongly recommend you don’t”. “And, of course, extreme Western styles of dress are not tolerated in Muslim countries.” But that, I suppose, is asking too much!

Note 8 - Extract from: Sweden bomber's Luton link must not reinforce cliche

On Guardian Cif - newsed1, 13 December 2010 8:28PM

Anybody listen to The World at One?

They interviewed the local ultra-reasonable, unaccented, Muslim chap from the local Mosque in question.

'Oh yes' he says 'we didn't like his extremist ideas, so we chucked him out.'

So why didn't you alert the authorities?

'That's not our job' says Mr Reasonable.

…. when the local Muslims happily tell us they had the bloke's number years ago, WTF are we supposed to do?

Read complete item here

Note 9 - Extract from: Common Ground or Not

A section of the programme spoke about Sayid Mawdudi [the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami] who was described as "the ideologue and founder of a party that ‘wants Pakistan to become an Islamic state governed by sharia holy law". The programme presenter went on to say and quote: ‘In Mawdudi’s ideal Islamic state, private and public life would be inseparable. In this respect it would bear “a kind of resemblance to the fascist and communist states”

The MCB did not like the association with the fascism and communism. After an accusatory exchange of letters with the BBC the MCB reached the conclusion:

“The BBC’s response demonstrated that Mawdudi’s words had been quoted accurately, but only in a limited and strictly literal sense. However, the words ‘fascism’ and ‘communism’ carry negative connotations for most people in Britain. The effect of using a very brief quotation was, therefore, to highlight references to these two political systems and to exaggerate the parallels with Islam, thereby transferring to Islam the negativity that fascism and communism connote.

The MCB admits there is a parallel complaining only that it carries "negative connotations"!

Read complete item here

19 January 2011

This is Why - Part 3

A continuous survey of causes of “Islamophobia”. Conflicts in Muslim countries and terrorism are excluded. See here for explanation of survey.

January 2011

A Stranger in My Own Land
I shan't miss the abuse my priest husband received: the daubing of "Dirty white dogs" in red paint on the church door …. For four years, we lived in inner-city Birmingham, in what has been a police no-go area for 20 years.

Somali women say Islamists becoming more draconian

Iran: Evangelical Christians are 'corrupt and deviant, like the Taliban'

Europe Goes Halal
Muslims have the right to choose halal foods, but non-Muslims do not have the right to choose not to eat the ritually slaughtered meat

This has been scientifically established
Several doctors have achieved excellent results in treating impotence by having their patients grow their beards long. Interviewer: Allah be praised!

Odense (Denmark): Iranian priest attacked for displaying cross

Saudi Arabia Now Forcing News Bloggers to Obtain Licenses, Promote Islam

Life in jail for two Pakistani Muslim blasphemers

"Offensive Jihad Is Permissible to Secure Islam's Borders, to Extend God's Religion, and..."

Iran bans "tight jeans", tattoos at some universities

No sex-education please, we are Muslims

Mecca-based Muslim outfit prohibits depiction of religious figures in movies

Iran arrests dozens of converts from Islam to Christianity

Anti-Christian crimes downplayed
We’ve heard outlandish allegations of Islamophobia sweeping America. Not getting nearly as much attention is the bloody persecution of Christians in parts of the Muslim world.

Somalia's al-Shabab bans mixed-sex handshakes

In denial about campus extremism

Muslim girls are covertly prepared for forced marriage. Yet the feminists stay silent

Islam now considered 'a threat' to national identity by almost half of French and Germans, according to new poll

Helsinki Drops Muslim Women-Only Pool Sessions

Pakistani governor who opposed blasphemy law slain

'Moderate' clerics praise politician's killing
Five hundred moderate Pakistani religious scholars have warned that anyone who expresses grief over the assassination of a senior ruling party official who opposed the country's blasphemy law could suffer the same fate.

Denmark: 30% see Islam as a threat to Denmark

Hockey referee suspended for publishing Muhammad cartoon on Facebook

Iran shops banned from selling Valentine gifts

December 2010

David Cameron must face the challenge of Islamisation

Hyperbole rules in Muslim debate
According to the latest hate crime report from the Los Angeles .... 88 percent of all religiously based hate crimes in 2009 were against Jews. Hate crimes that targeted Muslims (3 percent) ranked slightly above those directed at Scientologists (1 percent). In fact, the commission found that attacks against Christians (8 percent) outnumbered attacks against Muslims.

Will Germany be a Divided Nation Again?
.... We argue that integration is not about Germany having to go through great pains to make immigrants feel at ease here with their traditions.

Malaysian Islamic Institute: "Islam rejects religious pluralism"

Saudi Arabia girls' schools investigated over 'illegal' sports day
"We don't have any regulations that say that it's OK for girls' schools to hold sports classes or training," said Ahmed Al-Zahrani, director of girls' education in Jeddah.

Former Birmingham judge who called Muslim colleague 'tent head' fined £10,000

Iraqi Christians flee to Kurdish areas or abroad – U.N.

Netherlands: Pork-free police lunch-boxes

Bashir plans Islamic law if Sudan splits, defends flogging woman

Muslim and Jewish groups object to labelling of ritually slaughtered meat

Muslims sue teacher for speaking about ham in class

Anti-immigrant tract is German Christmas best-seller

France: 39% agree Muslim prayer in the streets is like Nazi occupation

Life on Hold for Egyptian Christian Arrested for his Faith

Dutch may introduce burqa ban as early as 2011

Austrian man convicted for yodelling while Muslim neighbours prayed

A picture of Islamofascism: A Sudanese policeman whipping a defenceless woman

Modern Dutch Muslim women can't find suitable partners
The current generation of young Dutch Muslim women are often quite well-educated and open-minded compared to most of their potential spouses, many of whom do not want a 'modern' wife.

Woman arrested for wearing hijab sues Georgia city

Doctor arrested for blasphemy over discarded business card
A doctor has been arrested on suspicion of violating Pakistan's contentious blasphemy law by discarding a business card of a man who shared the name of Islam's prophet, Muhammad, police say.

Baluchistan: Islamists slaughtering teachers
Islamic extremists are systematically targeting teachers in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Their crime is to teach children of both sexes in violation of Sharia.

"Every Muslim has a responsibility to protect his family from the misguidance of Christmas, because its observance will lead to hellfire"

Man sentenced to be blinded with acid by Iranian court

75% of Czechs oppose building mosques

'Integration a fiasco': Gothenburg official
.... the frustration of city officials who, in the words of one official, feel that 30 years of programmes aimed at integrating Muslim immigrants 'have not worked,'" the leaked cable stated.

"Halal food movement can lead Muslims to rule world economy"

EU quietly scraps plans for compulsory labelling of meat slaughtered without stunning

Netherlands: 73% support a burqa ban

Iraqi Kurdish cleric says female circumcision recommended by Islam

Underage marriages are allowed in Islam, says Nazri

Muslim School Anger
TEACHERS have attacked plans to build five new state-funded Muslim schools, warning it will “segregate” Britain’s education system.

Malaysian sharia laws sees first women caned for sex outside of marriage

Majority of Muslims want Islam in politics, poll says

Pakistani court blocks government drive to relax blasphemy laws

Sex abuse in Muslim families goes unreported

Hardline Pakistan cleric offers reward to kill Christian woman

Iran authorities chop off man's hand

Muslim imam who lectures on non-violence in Germany is arrested for beating up his wife

The civil war among Muslims in Britain

Indonesia's Islamic laws are 'abusive', report says

Moving with the times
A Saudi man is to be lashed 70 times with the whip after he was caught using the Bluetooth feature in his mobile phone near a women’s shopping centre.

November 2010

David Cameron on radicalised Muslims: 'We let in some crazies'
.... Cameron went on to criticise Labour's dealing with groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the Muslim Council of Britain. "On the radicalisation of British Pakistanis, Cameron said the UK had 'gotten it wrong domestically'

Algerian Christians face jail for opening church

Our money must not go on religious segregation
Instead of educating children from different backgrounds together, so they can learn from one another, we are now going to spend our taxpayers' money on separating children along religious lines.

Pakistani Christian Convicted of ‘Blasphemy’ Stoned in Prison

Iran Court: ‘Pastor To Be Executed By Hanging’

Minister slams 'macho' Muslim culture
Family Minister Kristina Schröder slammed on Friday what she sees as a growing tendency to violence stemming from a “macho culture” among young Muslim men.

Muslim woman banned from roller-skating rink because she was wearing a headscarf

Complaint lodged over burqa mural

This medieval Saudi education system must be reformed

Blind couple’s anger as taxi refuses guide dog

Without free speech writers can have very little impact on culture
.... that many European Muslims misidentify it as a tool of Anglo-Saxon interests, a license to insult them, rather than the sole guarantee of their right to be heard.

UN again votes to condemn vilification of religion, but support is shrinking

Turin official appeals to school board to ban burqa-wearing mothers

Muslims vs. French School System
.... teachers in schools with a high proportion of Muslim children are being threatened on an almost daily basis by Muslims who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, and who demand halal meals and "reject French culture and its values."

Christian Copts, Egyptian Security Standoff Over Church Construction

This trend of young Muslim girls wearing the hijab is disturbing

BBC's Panorama claims Islamic schools teach antisemitism and homophobia

Overtime pay at Christmas axed: It discriminates against the other religions, say care home bosses

Afghan Christian faces trial for alleged conversion from Islam

U.N. Anti-Blasphemy Proposal Meets Firm Resistance

Swedish doctor assaulted 'for being a man'
A doctor at Örebro University Hospital in central Sweden was attacked and kicked recently by the relatives of a critical ill woman who had just given birth, because they objected to him being a male.

Hijab woman jailed for six months for false complaint about police

Enforcement of Islamic Dress Code for Women in Chechnya

The religious excuse for barbarity

If you are engaged in an act of cruelty, there is an easy, effective way to silence your critics and snatch some space to carry on. Tell us all that your religion requires you to do it, and you are "offended" by any critical response.

Muslims protest in Athens over Koran rumour

Belgium: Half of Muslims don't reject stunning before slaughter

MP demands changes after halal meat turns up in the Commons

Egypt Muslims set fire to Christian homes

Saudi Arabia Has Zero Religious Freedom
Saudi Arabia has no religious freedom in theory or practice, according to a report released today by the U.S. State Department.

Family leads outcry at blasphemy death penalty

Woman sentenced to death by stoning confesses 'sin of adultery' to Iran TV

Toy pig removed from farm set to avoid offending Muslim and Jewish parents

Illicit lovers sentenced to 100 lashes each

Blind student saves for three years to buy a guide HORSE because her strict Muslim parents consider dogs unclean

Poll shows majority of Oklahomans have unfavorable view of Islam

In Afghanistan, a 16-year-old girl dares to learn

Saudi Arabia's spot on the board of UN Women a sad joke

If Pakistan is serious about freedom of speech its blasphemy law must go

Boy's pork lunch sparks religious tensions in Malaysia

Halal meat is being served in schools, hospitals and pubs - even though vets say Islamic slaughter is cruel

Pope asks Muslim world to reciprocate religious tolerance
Several Islamic states in the Middle East have laws limiting or prohibiting Christian minorities from openly practising their faith.

Take Your Integration and Shove It!
The young woman interviewed for the program was born in Denmark, but she makes it quite clear that she has never integrated into Danish society, nor does she ever intend to do so.

Palestinian held for Facebook criticism of Islam

The Higher Criticism
The Qu’ran and Hadiths have never been subjected to what we now know as ‘The Higher Criticism‘ (textual analysis designed to establish authorship and date) ….

Muslim politician claims that he was forced by Michelle Obama to shake hands

Study: Muslim women uncomfortable with U.S. doctors

Lutfur Rahman council promotes extremist preacher who supports wife-beating
The preacher, Abdur Raheem Green, has stated that “Islam is not compatible with democracy.” He also says that a husband has the right to administer “some type of physical force… a very light beating” to his wife, to prevent her from committing “evil.”

Should we be concerned about sharia?
.... although the evidence showed that her husband had assaulted and harassed her, a restraining order was unnecessary because the defendant was acting in accordance with his religious beliefs.

How the Taxpayer is Footing the Bill for Militant Islam

Egypt Gripped by Rising Muslim-Christian Tensions

Ofcom rules against Islam Channel following Quilliam report
…. breached the UK Broadcasting Code after presenters on the channel advocated marital rape, justified violence against women and described women who wore perfume as ‘prostitutes’.