‘Muslim Problem’ article could incite hate crime, UK group warns

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Cii Radio|Ayesha Ismail|17 August 2017| 24 Zhul Qadha 1438

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has added its voice to the growing list of those accusing The Sun newspaper of deliberately using Nazi terminology in attacking Muslims, claiming it could incite further Islamophobic attacks.

Writing in The Sun, the UK’s most widely read newspaper, one of the paper’s leading writers Trevor Kavanagh declared the country had a “Muslim Problem.”

The phrase drew obvious comparisons to “The Jewish Problem” — an expression used in Nazi Germany prior to the Holocaust, which left millions of Jews dead.

The backlash has seen over 100 UK MPs write to The Sun complaining about the language used, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Tell MAMA — a group that measures anti-Muslim attacks — complain directly to the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPOS).

Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the MCB, claimed that using such a phrase was grossly alarming at a time when hate crimes against Muslims are on the increase.

“The fact that a national newspaper columnist asks readers for a solution to the ‘Muslim Problem’ is truly disgusting,” Versi told Arab News.

“It appears the editors believed it was appropriate to use Nazi-like terminology about Muslims, showing the serious challenges we face in the UK.

“In the United Kingdom, there has been a rise in Islamophobia and hate crime, with 40 neo-Nazis currently being investigated for fears they are plotting terrorist attacks against Muslims.

“In this climate, such a column is not only irresponsible but downright dangerous.”

In an article about immigration following the Newcastle sex abuse scandal — in which Asian men were convicted of abusing young girls — Kavanagh laid the blame squarely on Islam, writing: “Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem”. He concluded by asking “What will we do about The Muslim Problem.”

MPs from across the political spectrum reacted by putting their names to a latter calling for the article to be retracted and asking whether Kavanagh’s position at The Sun is now tenable.

“It is shocking that in the 21st century a columnist is using such Nazi-like terminology about a minority community,” the letter to The Sun editor Tony Gallagher read.

“Muslims currently face threats from far right and neo-Nazi groups in the UK and your publication of this article can therefore only be seen as an attempt to further stoke up hatred and hostility against Muslims.”

The Sun, however, rubbished accusations of Islamophobia and using Nazi-like terminology, claiming Kavanagh was simply “drawing links between immigration, religion and crime.”

“We strongly reject the allegation that Trevor Kavanagh is inciting Islamophobia,” a Sun spokesperson told Arab News.

“He is reflecting the links between immigration, religion and crime in the context of a trial of largely Pakistani sex gangs.

“Any suggestion that this article is promoting Islamophobia is a deliberate misreading of a very serious subject.

Furthermore, it was never the intention that other elements of the column would be equated to Nazi-like terminology.”

Speaking earlier to Arab News about the sex grooming scandal, Neil Chakraborti, an academic who sits on the advisory board of Tell MAMA, said it was “simplistic” to blame Muslims as a whole for such sickening crimes.

“While it’s understandable that there’s a lot of anger and emotion following such a case, to label a particular community as culpable because of their skin color is simplistic,” Chakraborti said.

“The problem is more multi-layered and complex than that. After such crimes we all need in some way to take ownership.”

Source – Arab news