Thursday 24 June 2010

Express headline invents new 'Eurocrat' myth

Today's Express front page contains lots of their favourite subjects - English flagwaving, meddling Europeans, Muslims and banning the burkha:

It was inevitable that England's win in the World Cup would find a place on the front page, but this image seems to have been deliberately picked for this headline. It's not a picture of Fabio Capello, or goalscorer Jermain Defoe, but of English fans waving their flags and being patriotic. The headline is 'Land of Hope and Glory'.

Compare that to the main headline. It's as if the Express is saying - look at what 'Eurocrats' and Muslims are conspiring to do against you. Look at what they're doing to damage your proud country.

So what is this story about? The headline very clearly implies that 'Eurocrats' (whoever they actually are - in this case, they actually mean parliamentarians) have said 'you' (whoever 'you' is, but presumably members states) can't ban the burkha.

Yet in the very first sentence of Nick Fagge's article, the headline is called into question:

Europe backed the burkha yesterday by ruling that the controversial Muslim veils should not be banned.

So whereas the headline is you 'can't ban the burkha', the first line says you 'should not'. That is a significant difference.

And the third sentence of the article makes this clear:

The Council of Europe’s resolution is not binding on members of the group.

Therefore, this is unlikely to have any effect at all on the planned bans in France, the Netherlands and Spain.

What actually happened yesterday was the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted a resolution opposing a general ban:

on wearing the burqa and the niqab or other religious clothing...though it added that legal restrictions may be justified “for security purposes, or where the public or professional functions of individuals require their religious neutrality, or that their face can be seen”...

...the veiling of women is often perceived as “a symbol of the subjugation of women to men” but a general ban would deny women “who genuinely and freely desire to do so” their right to cover their face.

What that is clearly not saying is: 'you can't ban the burkha' - indeed, it says there may be justifiable legal restrictions on it.

But as usual with an Express front page, why bother with the facts when a scaremongering, myth-making headline will do instead?


  1. This whole story's a mess. Confuses the hell out of me:

  2. Oh yeah, and has the Express suddenly become the official mouthpiece for UKIP or what? Don't they have any other rentaquote gobshite politicians?

  3. The Express is a faintly idiotic paper. But you liberals crack me up. England fans! Waving flags! Being PATRIOTIC?! Whatever next?

  4. Anonymous - You must be incredibly easily 'cracked up' if you think that comment is critical of the England fans. It isn't. The point is the context in which the picture was used by the Express.

  5. Banning the burkha is an evil policy. If "Eurocrats" stopped member states from doing it, I'd be grateful.

  6. I have to agree anonymous has missed the point, as I read the entry I genuinely thought to myself "please don't let someone have read this and misinterpreted it as political correctness gone mad...". But there you have it.

  7. It should also be noted that the "Council of Europe" is completely unconnected to the EU* (the EU is a supranational body dealing with the common market, etc, whereas the Council of Europe is the one that set up the Court of Human Rights).

    Since "Eurocrats" tends to refer to (Brussels-based) EU civil-servants rather than the (Strasbourg-based) Council of Europe, the paper seems to what to pin the "blame" on the EU in the public's minds.

    *Though the EU might soon join the European Convention on Human Rights to make sure that ECJ rulings and EU law don't contravene ECHR jurisprudence...


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