Warsi ac­cuses UK press of Is­lam­o­pho­bia

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Gra­ham Rud­dick Me­dia edi­tor

Say­eeda Warsi, a for­mer Con­ser­va­tive cab­i­net min­is­ter, has ac­cused Bri­tish news­pa­pers of Is­lam­o­pho­bia and hate speech and called for a par­lia­men­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the is­sue

Lady Warsi, the first Mus­lim woman to hold a cab­i­net po­si­tion, said hate speech in the press had be­come a “plague”, with Mus­lims the “prin­ci­pal tar­get”.

She gave ex­am­ples from the Daily Ex­press, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Times in her speech last night.

Warsi, a for­mer lawyer, was giv­ing the fifth an­nual Leve­son lec­ture at an event in London hosted by Hacked Off, which cam­paigns for greater reg­u­la­tion of the press. She re­signed from the gov­ern­ment in 2014 over its “morally in­de­fen­si­ble” pol­icy on Gaza.

Warsi said hate was a “daily re­al­ity” for Mus­lims in Bri­tain in 2017, adding: “In sec­tions of our press it is re­lent­less and de­lib­er­ate. Steadily and me­thod­i­cally us­ing pa­per inches and col­umns to cre­ate, feed and ratchet up sus­pi­cions and hos­til­i­ties in our so­ci­ety, driv­ing com­mu­ni­ties apart and cre­at­ing un­told – and un­nec­es­sary – fear and dis­tress.

“Poi­son­ing our pub­lic dis­course, mak­ing it al­most im­pos­si­ble to have sen­si­ble dis­cus­sions about real chal­lenges, crowd­ing out tol­er­ance, rea­son and un­der­stand­ing. And this drip-drip ap­proach is cre­at­ing a toxic en­vi­ron­ment where hate crime is the high­est it’s been since records be­gan.”

She de­scribed a Sun front page from 2015, head­lined “1 in 5 Brit Mus­lims’ sym­pa­thy for ji­hadis”, as “shock­ing”.

She also crit­i­cised the Times for its cov­er­age this year of a foster care row in east London in­volv­ing a five-year-old girl.

The Times head­lined the story “Chris­tian child forced into Mus­lim foster care” and Warsi said the news­pa­per was “wil­fully send­ing a mes­sage to its read­ers that Mus­lims are fright­en­ing peo­ple”.

She said that it “was ex­traor­di­nar­ily ir­re­spon­si­ble and, most shock­ingly, was un­true”.

Warsi said she had writ­ten to Yvette Cooper, the chair of the par­lia­men­tary home af­fairs com­mit­tee, to ask her to in­ves­ti­gate hate speech.

News UK, the pub­lisher of the Sun and the Times, de­clined to com­ment.

Lady Warsi, a for­mer Tory min­is­ter, sin­gled out the Sun and Times over cov­er­age that she called ‘shock­ing’ and ‘ex­traor­di­nar­ily ir­re­spon­si­ble’

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