Islamic Human Rights Commission
09 November 2010
PRESS RELEASE: UK – Letter challenging the promotion of hate in The Independent.
On 27 October 2010, The Independent newspaper published an Islamophobic article entitled “Poor Lauren Booth – she would do anything to get in with the tough kids”. The online link to the article was entitled “What sort of woman freely converts to Islam?”
The article uses the conversion story of Lauren Booth as an excuse to attack Islam as well as demonise and incite hatred towards Muslims.
The article suggests that Islam is by its very nature, violent, misogynistic and that no rational, western woman would consider it an option. It also states that Islam, and by extension Muslims, are anti-Semitic.
The letter has been signed by prominent members of British society who feel that articles inciting hatred against people based on their race, religion or ethnicity are unacceptable. Signatories include:
– George Galloway – Former MP, Co-founder of Respect party;
– Lindsey German – Stop the War;
– Massoud Shadjareh – Islamic Human Rights Commission;
– Yvonne Ridley – European President of the International Women’s Union;
– Syed Farjani – Muslim Association of Britain;
– Majed Al-Zeer – Palestine Return Centre;
– Maulana Sarfaraz Madni – UK Islamic Mission;
– Mr Derek Conway – Former Conservative MP.
IHRC Chair, Massoud Shadjareh, states “The open season of attacks, through demonisation, stereotyping and inciting hatred, against Muslims and Islam has to come to an end. The Independent has allowed itself to be used as a platform for the promotion of pure hate and stereotyping against a quarter of the worlds population and their beliefs in a way that no other faith would be allowed to be targeted”
For more information please contact the Press Office on (+44) 20 8904 4222, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.[ENDS]
To view the full text of the letter, please see below:
LETTER TO EDITOR
09 November 2010
Independent Print Limited
2 Derry Street
09 November 2010
Dear Mr. Kelner,
We the undersigned, would like to express our disgust and anger regarding the publishing of the Julie Burchill column titled “Poor Lauren Booth – she would do anything to get in with the tough kids” which appeared in The Independent in both the online and print editions on 27 October 2010.
Burchill, in her article, uses the recent religious conversion of Lauren Booth, a journalist and human rights activist, to Islam, to launch a thinly veiled attack on Islam.
The online link to the article entitled “What sort of woman freely converts to Islam?” suggests that Islam is by its very nature, violent, misogynistic and that no rational, western woman would consider it an option. This is patently language and presumptions that are the very life blood of racist organisations such as the BNP and surely have no place in a major national publication of The Independent’s calibre. Burchill’s words sought therefore to demonise all Muslims, by linking it to extremism and violence.
In our opinion, this article clearly amounts to incitement to hatred towards Muslims.
Burchill states that Lauren Booth converted to a religion that is, she states: “narrow-minded, patriarchal and oppressive”. Burchill further states “What sort of woman freely converts to a religion which supports the oppression, torment and murder of thousands of Christians, homosexuals and spirited women, worldwide, every year?” This reads like Fascist literature of 1930’s Germany, equating people of a certain faith with disturbing, violent, internationally unacceptable acts. It is needless to say utterly untrue in its depiction of the true, egalitarian nature of Islam. Burchill seeks to create a harmful image of Islam. One which encourages and promotes hatred of, tellingly, both men AND the very women she purports to care about.
In her article, Burchill equates Islam with anti-Semitism. She states “There does seem to be a particular affinity between Catholics and Muslims – Jew-hating is a great bonding agent.” This false accusation is extremely offensive to Muslims as Islam does not advocate hatred of other groups. Nonetheless, Burchill links Islam with anti-Semitism. Yet another misguided and deliberately damaging statement intended to create a negative image of Islam.
Your paper has printed statements which by their very nature seek to promote hatred and lead to the demonising of Muslims. We give you an obvious example and ask if this would be considered legal and within publishing guidelines. Judaism is: “narrow-minded, patriarchal and oppressive” / “What sort of woman freely converts to a religion which supports the oppression, torment and murder of thousands of Christians, homosexuals and spirited women, worldwide, every year?”
This is no truer of Judaism than it is of Islam, yet in this context you would never dare challenge the laws of this country by printing such a thing.
It is shocking to find such levels of Islamophobia on the pages of The Independent. It is astonishing that The Independent allowed such an offensive article to be published. The Independent has a responsibility to make sure that groups of people are not being attacked, in its print and online editions, on grounds of race, belief and ethnicity.
Given Burchill’s sympathies with Israel and her apologist stance for its various crimes, it is no surprise that she attacks Booth – a champion for Palestinian rights – in such a vicious way. But rather than taking issue with Booth’s politics, Burchill’s descent into vitriol against Islam brings the editorial standards of The Independent into disrepute.
The Independent must subscribe to the Press Complaints Commission’s Code of Practice. The Code of Practice clearly states that the Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information and 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. The Independent has a duty to follow this Code of Practice when publishing any material on its website or in its newspaper.
In the meantime, we expect to see the offensive article to be removed from The Independent website and a written public apology for the offending material to be published. This may go some way to convincing your many disillusioned readers of all creeds that you are indeed still a newspaper worth buying.
Massoud Shadjareh – Islamic Human Rights Commission
George Galloway – former MP, Co-founder of Respect party
Yvonne Ridley – European President of the International Women’s Union
Majed Al-Zeer – Palestine Return Centre
Moazzam Begg – Director of Cageprisoners
Muslim Association of Britain – Syed Farjani
Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi – Arab Media Watch
Les Levidow – Campaign Against Criminalising Communities
Islamic Centre of England
Azad Ali – Muslim Safety Forum
Anas Al-Tikriti – British Muslim Initiative
Manchester Islamic Centre
Newcastle Islamic Centre
Glasgow Al-Huda Islamic Centre
Derek Conway – former conservative MP
Ahulbayt Islamic Mission – Samir Al-Haidari
Palestinian Solidarity Campaign – Betty Hunter
Abbas Panjwaani – Inminds
Sarah Colborn – Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Stop the War – Lindsey German
Dr Ghada Karmi – Doctor of medicine, author and academic
Sukant Chandan – Sons of Malcolm
Maulana Sarfaraz Madni – UK Islamic Mission
Link to original article by Julie Burchill: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/julie-burchill/julie-burchill-poor-lauren-booth-ndash-she-would-do-anything-to-get-in-with-the-tough-kids-2117219.html
The Islamic Human Rights Commission is an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
IHRC is not responsible for the content of external websites, nor endorses them by providing their link.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183