Thursday 20 August 2009

Express turns comments from forum into 'story'

On 19 August, the Express and Star both carried a story about some comments posted on the forum of the Islamic Awakening website about the war in Afghanistan.

The Express' Sick fanatics cheer body bags begins:

British Muslim fanatics sparked fresh fury last night by praising Taliban “heroes” for sending our troops back from Afghanistan in body bags.

Of course, any time the word 'fury' turns up in a story, it immediately means they've phoned up some of their favourite quote whores and got some suitable 'outraged' quotes (see TaxPayers Alliance, Campaign for Political Correctness, Philip Davies MP).

There are many problems with this story, and the way it has been presented.

Let's be blunt - running stories based on a few comments from a forum is pathetic. If you look hard enough you could find someone saying anything you want on a forum somewhere. It really doesn't mean anything.

The Express then says:

Last night there were calls by senior politicians for the Home Office to crack down on the hate-filled rants that will distress even further the relatives of troops who gave their lives fighting the Taliban.

This is a ridiculous statement. If these 'hate-filled rants' are so distressing, why are the Express and Star going to the trouble of reprinting them? It's more than likely that the families of soldiers aren't reading the Islamic Awakening website (or have even heard of it).

But the Star and the Express sell 1.6m copies a day. So who is really causing the distress?

The Star goes on to blame favoured hate-figure Abu Hamza in their headline Hooky rants over 'body bags' toll. But the story offers only this:

Meanwhile sick rants have been posted on websites linked to hook-handed hate preacher Abu Hamza.

Which is not really the same thing. Indeed, the picture caption on the story admits:

Abu Hamza is said to have launched a sick rant

'Said to have'? Hardly conclusive then is it? So why bring him into the story at all?

And then there are those comments that the Express seems so bothered about. Are they really 'hate-filled rants'? Take the third and fourth ones they mention:

“Waziri” said: “By command of Allah, the invading forces will be forced to withdraw humiliated and defeated by a group of men who between them do not possess even one transport helicopter.”

“Noorah”, said: “They are really getting whooped. Don’t know how they think they can win.”

Are those really 'hate-filled rants'?

And then there is the first one they list which reads:

“Isma’eel”, said: “Man, they really are dropping like flies over there lol [laugh out loud].”

Except, that isn't all that Isma'eel said. They conveniently ignored the rest of his post:

The ppl of the UK need to wake up and start demanding for their sons and daughters to return home instead of fighting in a useless war. They've been lied to for so many years.

A sentiment that many people would agree with, and which is nothing like a 'hate-filled rant'.

Indeed, Express columnist Leo McKinstry said in his 20 August article:

Ministers in charge of the campaign have been both incompetent and deceitful. Not only have they systematically failed to provide sufficient resources for the fight but they have also lied to the public on an epic scale...

We should bring home all our services personnel immediately.

Which sounds very similar to the 'vile' message of the 'fanatic' Isma'eel.


Although McKinstry often does write hate-filled rants against Muslims and immigrants, the Express thinks those are acceptable. So why is the Express and McKinstry allowed their free speech so say what they want, but other people - namely Muslims - are not?

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