Islamic Human Rights Commission
11th December 2004
PRESS RELEASE: UK – The Daily Telegraph, the newspaper that taught Britain to Hate
The point at which prejudice is manifested as subtle discrimination in the popular psyche is often difficult to pinpoint. Perhaps a useful example is today’s opinion the The Daily Telegraph by Charles Moore’s, ‘Is it only Mr Bean who resists this new religious intolerance?’ Whilst it appears a sophisticated plea for so-called free speech and religious tolerance, it exhibits the hallmarks of prejudice that form the basis of discriminatory behaviour in society.
How so? There are numerous examples of which the following are but a few, but the salient point regarding today’s article is that it forms part of a catalogue of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam pieces that characterise The Daily Telegraph’s stance on one of the UK’s most marginalised and vilified communities.
Superficially Moore’s piece decries proposed new legislation criminalising hate speech against religions as a way of reinforcing anti-Muslim prejudice as exhibited by the BNP. However he contextualises Muslim calls for such legislation as the result of contemporary and historical tyranny in ‘Muslim’ countries against non-believers. It is at best a bizarre position to take. Moore is effectively defining a proposed law designed to protect minorities as a sop to the Muslim community’s allegedly autocratic and systemically violent tendencies. Perhaps, it is argued, even such contentions may fall foul of new legislation – the horror!
The merits (or lack thereof) of the proposed legislation aside, one thing Moore says is quite true, the legislation in itself will not address the hatred being targetted at Muslims as a result of their faith. Attitudes need to change and this can only happen when government begins educating wider society about the nature and perils of the type of prejudice Charles Moore exhibits. For those less than convinced that Moore’s or indeed the Telegraph’s depiction of Muslims as potential terrorists and apologists for such is prejudicial compare with the following:
“I beg you and particularly those of you who carry the cross, throughout the land to become somewhat more serious when I speak of the enemy of free speech, namely, Muslims. Not out of irresponsibility or for fun do I fight against them, but because I bear within me the knowledge that the whole misfortune was brought to us by the Muslims alone.”
“I ask you once more, what is at stake today? The Muslims seek legal privilege not only in the UK but among all societies. New Labour has paved the way for them… Do you not know that the God of the Koran orders the Muslims to avenge all insult if his honour is to be upheld?”
Out of place neither as an opinion on the Telegraph’s pages or in BNP literature, such venom is to be neither outlawed or castigated in Moore and the Telegraph’s opinion. Replace ‘Muslim’ with ‘Jew’, ‘Koran’ with ‘Old Testament’, ‘New Labour’ with ‘The Communists’ and the above quote becomes less palatable and more familiar. It would be illegal in the UK, and rightly so, under existing laws for inciting racial hatred. Government, we doubt, would allow such sentiments made publicly, go unchallenged. If there is any doubt as to its nefariousness read the quote in its original glory below (1). Its originator was Julius Streicher, dubbed the man that taught Germany to hate, he was hung at Nuremberg for just that.
We have been here before and it is time to realise that the demonisation of Muslims, including vile attacks on their beliefs and the personalities they hold dear, does not conform to an ideal of free speech but actually exhibits the operation of discrimination in the public sphere that we have seen before and vowed never to allow to happen again.
It is time that the Telegraph was boycotted for The Daily Telegraph. In the absence of law or genuine governmental will to tackle the demonisation of Muslims and minorities, this is the best those of us opposed to prejudice can do.
Fore more information, please contact the press office on (+44) 20 8904 4222, mobile (+44) 7958 522196 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes for Editors:
1. The actual quote reads:
“I beg you and particularly those of you who carry the cross, throughout the land to become somewhat more serious when I speak of the enemy of the German people, namely, the Jew. Not out of irresponsibility or for fun do I fight against the Jewish enemy, but because I bear within me the knowledge that the whole misfortune was brought to Germany by the Jews alone.”
“I ask you once more, what is at stake today? The Jew seeks dominion not only among the German people but among all peoples. The Communists paved the way for him. Do you not know that the God of the Old Testament orders the Jews to consume and enslave the peoples of the earth?”
PARTIAL TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT M-12, Source:Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume VIII. USGPO, Washington, 1946/pp.10-11
2. IHRC’s latest report, ‘Social Discrimination: Across the Muslim Divide’ will be published on 16th December 2004 and looks at the operation of stereotyping in British society and the impact it has on social cohesion and the increase in anti-Muslim discrimination.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183