Thursday, 26 November 2009

Things to come

After yet another stupid health scare story yesterday (too much salt is bad for you, shock), the Express was back to one of its other favourite topics today: Islam.

Or should that be anti-Islam hysteria?

There is so much wrong with the Express' article that it's hard to know where to start.

But let's try this: the headline '£113,000 aid to fanatics who want to kill us' no longer exists on the Express website. They have changed it to a much less inflammatory David Cameron: Brown soft on Muslim fanatics, which strongly suggests they have backed away from their own ridiculous front page.

Secondly, the word 'us'. Seasoned followers of the Richard Desmond papers will be well used to their use of 'them and us' to separate 'them' Muslims, immigrants, asylum seekers, foreigners and 'us' white, Christian, British people (and that's the blinkered BNP definition of British).

Thirdly, despite the use of 'fanatics' there's little doubt the paper is trying to link Muslims with murder.

Fourth, the headline and the picture (no, not Alesha Dixon, the other one) strongly suggest the 'fanatics' in the headline are linked to loudmouth trouble-maker Anjem Choudhary. And yet, the story isn't about him at all.

Although the Express says David Cameron did raise the banning of Choudhary's organisation (Islam4UK) during yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions, the main thrust of his argument, and the paper's coverage, is about another issue, and another organisation, entirely.

But Choudhary is their number one Muslim hate figure and so his face is stuck below the headline so people will make the link.

Fifth, the money went to two Muslim schools which, they allege, have links to Hizb ut-Tahir. So it isn't 'aid to fanatics' anyway but 'money to schools'.

As for the substance of what Cameron said, it seems to be part of an on-going debate between the Government and the Opposition and won't be gone into here. But the Express, more blindly loyal to the Conservatives than the recent converts at the Sun, have repeated every allegation made by Cameron despite not all the facts being known.

And now more of them are known, the Express have changed the headline online. That's not a coincidence.

On the page 4 continuation, the headline asks:

How can cash meant to fight extremism be given the extremists?

It's not in quote marks, which is a usual Express tactic. But this time it actually should be, because they have used Cameron's words:

'How can you have an anti-extremist fund that results in a Labour local authority handing out money to extremists?'

He added:

'They have secured a total of £113,000 of Government money, some of which was from the Pathfinder scheme, whose objective is meant to be preventing violent extremism.'

Which is where the front page comes from. Except, it's not true. The BBC reports that:

the local authorities said the Pathfinder fund in question was one for helping parents find nursery places

and not the fund for tackling extremism. The Conservatives appear to accept this is the case, with Cameron telling the BBC that:

the 'fundamental point' that state money was being used was still true.

Well, yes, but that's not the same as the claims made in the Express. And consider this: if this £113,000 was indeed for 'helping parents find nursery places' then what the Express calls:

fanatics who want to kill us

are actually

children from three to five.

That last quote came from the Mail which runs the story - without the hysteria - under the headline Embarrassed Tories admit error over 'Muslim extremist schools' funding. The Times also say Tories admit David Cameron Islamic schools claim 'had mistakes'.

Do you think the Express will admit similar errors or mistakes tomorrow? No, of course they won't.

Accompanying the Express' article is their daily phone poll, which asks:

Should your taxes fund extremists?

'Funding extremists' is an exceptionally twisted interpretation of this story (if it can even be considered an interpretation of this story at all). Hard to imagine many people would want to 'fund extremists' of any description, so expect another entirely unrevealing result in a few days time.

And then there's the Express' editorial, which is not online. It repeats all the allegations made in the story - that the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation is a front for Hizb ut-Tahrir (the latter's press statement denies this), and that money from a fund to combat extremism has gone to 'homegrown Islamists'.

At the end, the paper concludes:

What these exchanges demonstrate is just how deeply in hock the Labour party is at every level to Muslim vested interests.

It's hard to know quite what to make of that bizarre sentence. Where is there any evidence to support that claim? What are these 'Muslim vested interests'? Does the Express really believe that the 'party' that went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq is 'in hock to Muslim interests'?

Of course, what the Express really wants to do is attack the Government and imply (again) that there is some Muslim conspiracy to takeover the country, as if 'vested Muslim interests' are pulling the strings on a puppet government.

If the consequences weren't so serious, these paranoid delusions might be amusing.

And, to hammer home the point a bit more, the Express editorial continues on with the headline:

No funding for Christians

So while the main editorial comment claims not just Muslims, but Muslim extremists, are getting Government funding there is 'no funding for Christians'. If that were literally true, then there would be very little 'funding' going on in this country.

The claim is based on a comment from Poirot actor David Suchet, who has said:

A charity I work for got turned down for Government funding recently because it was a Christian charity, even though it had been funded by the Government for several years.

So there is 'no funding for Christians' eventhough this Christian charity has 'been funded by the Government for several years'. That makes perfect sense. Do the cretins at the Express even think about the rubbish they write?

It may well be that after several years of funding, the Government has decided to back other organisations. There may be many other reasons behind the decision.

But the Express knows it's all the fault of the Muslim-run Labour Government:

It does not take a brilliant detective to work out what is going on here, just an ordinarily observant person: Britain's cultural identity is being systematically dismantled by a government of traitors.

'Loss of British identity' is a claim made in the BNP's statement on immigration. They also have a list of Britain's top left-wingers, including Brown, Miliband, Harman and Straw which they title 'Traitors All'. Why does the Express continue to use the language of this far-right, racist party?

With the general election looming, the BNP are going to get a lot of coverage because of Nick Griffin's candidacy and because of the European election results. Today's edition of the Express only helps them by pushing lies, fear and hysterical comment into the mainstream.

And if yesterday's PMQs, following on from Brown's immigration speech, are signs of what the election campaign will bring, then the Express and other tabloids will have plenty of opportunity to push those lies and that fear some more.


  1. Shocking. Perhaps we should complain to the PCC? Oh wait..

    Great article, proper journalism.

  2. "Should your taxes fund extremists?"

    I assume they're referring to the idiotic-phone-poll tax which one has to pay to answer these ridiculous surveys - no doubt the extremists that funds are the ones working at the Express!

  3. Note the ad at the top of the page for a German supermarket. Proving again that money is more important than morals.


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