Warsi accuses UK press of Islamophobia
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’