Thursday, 28 January 2010

Report says media is a motivating factor in anti-Muslim hate crime

A report published today by Dr Jonathan Githens-Mazer and Dr Robert Lambert MBE, from the European Muslim Research Centre at the University of Exeter, looks at anti-Muslim hate crime and Islamophobia in London. It is, they say, the first report in a ten-year project to look at these issues in cities across Europe.

Lambert, incidentally:

headed Scotland Yard's Muslim contact unit, which helped improve relations between the police and Britain's Islamic communities. The unit won praise from even long-standing critics of the police, and Lambert was awarded an MBE.

So he's well-qualified to write about such issues.

Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: a London Case Study reveals:

how perpetrators of hate-crimes against Muslims are invariably motivated by a negative view of Muslims acquired from mainstream or extremist nationalist media reports or commentaries.

So not something that is going to widely covered by the tabloids then?


In this report we introduce empirical evidence that demonstrates tangible links between Islamophobia or anti-Muslim bigotry in both

(i) mainstream political and media discourse and
(ii) extremist nationalist discourse and anti-Muslim hate crimes.

That is to say the report provides prima facie and empirical evidence to demonstrate that assailants of Muslims are invariably motivated by a negative view of Muslims they have acquired from either mainstream or extremist nationalist reports or commentaries in the media.

And then, in a section entitled 'Motivation of anti-Muslim hate crimes':

Islamophobic, negative and unwarranted portrayals of Muslim London as 'Londonistan' and Muslim Londoners as terrorists, terrorist sympathisers and subversives in sections of the media appear to provide the motivation for a significant number of anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Although she is not the only one to use the term, Londonistan is the name of a book by Mail columnist Melanie Phillips. A book that appears on the BNP's recommended reading list. Other than that, the report does not name particular writers or newspapers or articles, which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity to provide some academic analysis on some of the worst excesses of the right-wing press.

It is not just the media to blame, or who are the focus of the report, with recommendations for the police and for policy makers too:

Anti-Muslim hate crimes have not been afforded the same priority attention government and police have invested in racist hate crimes.

But the recommendations for the media are worth highlighting:

  • Sections of media unwittingly provide Islamophobic motivation for anti-Muslim hate crimes.
  • Media should embrace and promote victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the same way as victims of other hate crimes.

The use of 'unwittingly' seems a bit generous given some of the anti-Muslim filth the tabloids publish which are designed to do nothing but increase hostility towards Muslims. Front pages such as this and this do not appear by accident.

On the second point yes, of course, the media should report all hate crimes equally. As indeed it should report all people convicted on terror offences equally. But that just doesn't happen. And that doesn't seem at all likely to change.

Why not?

Well, at time of writing, this report has been available for many hours. And, apart from the Guardian, none of press appears to have written one word about it.


  1. Peter Oborne bravely wrote the foreword to that report. I wonder what his Mail colleagues think of that?

  2. Indeed he did - and he does have form on highlighting Islamophobia in the media:

  3. As always an excellent piece on highlighting our stupid media - I found myself open mouthed late last year reading two consecutive articles in the Sun - shortly after they had "condemned" Griffin and the BNP after QT. The two articles related to births (from in the sub-text) white British nationals in the UK at one London hospital - the tone was inflammatory, racist, prejudiced and designed simply to instill a coded racial hatred. Absolutely chilling the way the tabloids do this day in and day out.

  4. Reading the comments below the Guardian article almost makes me glad that it hasn't received too much attention.

    Anything highlighting anti-Muslim prejudice just brings out the most acidic bile from if such reports are adding insult to injury to the British public.

    Most are of the view of one of the following

    1. Muslims attacked? So what? Some of them bombed us so what do you expect.

    2. Who funded this? It's a ridiculous waste of money.

    3. Who supports this? Oh I see...some Muslim groups were advisors...therefore illegitamate.

    As a Muslim I worry about thegeneral publics view of Muslim. I'm sure that in an unguarded monet a lot of them wouldn't mind if everyone of us vanished tomorrow.

  5. Props to Peter Oborne, I suppose even if you're a raging conservative who writes for the Mail you can still have redeeming features.

    Yusuf, the Guardian article I'm looking at doesn't have any comments, am I looking at the wrong one or have they taken them down? The comment boards on the Guardian website have for a while been almost overrun by right wingers looking for a new battleground, and it often makes interesting if painful reading; I should like to read what they have to say on this particular issue.

  6. i am always confused by peter oborne. on the one hand, a man who seems very concerned by human rights and has made some excellent tv programmes on democracy and the war in iraq. but then he writes for the mail. he once did a marvellous TV show about islamophobia in the tabloids for dispatches i think, exposing how tabloid headlines used the word muslim in ways they don't tend to about other minority ethnic groups and it was so interesting. but how the hell can he make those programmes and write for the mail, who are responsible for the very headlines he condemned??!!


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