John Ware – a record of tabloid-style smears and witch-hunts

Lutfur Rahman and John Ware“The Mayor and Our Money”, the Panorama documentary on Lutfur Rahman’s administration in Tower Hamlets that was broadcast this evening (being carefully timed to damage Lutfur’s reputation in the run-up to the mayoral election in May) failed to pin any charges of financial or political corruption on Lutfur, despite advance publicity suggesting otherwise. What we got instead was unsubstantiated smears and innuendo. This was much as expected, given that the reporter was John Ware, whose shoddy journalistic methods have previously been exposed by media analysts.

Readers of Islamophobia Watch will probably remember that Ware was responsible for the notorious 2005 Panorama programme attacking the Muslim Council of Britain, entitled “A Question of Leadership”. In a detailed analysis of this documentary in their book Pointing the Finger: Islam and Muslims in the British Media, Julian Petley and Robin Richardson accuse Ware of engaging in “smear journalism, an odious form of journalism that either lacks the proof for the points it wishes to make, or the courage to say what it means and face the legal consequences, or both. This is exactly the kind of journalism one expects from the tabloid press (for which Ware, entirely unsurprisingly, once worked), but to find it in full flower on what is supposed to be the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme is surely quite unacceptable.”

The authors conclude: “‘A Question of Leadership’ can be described as a classic example of thesis-driven journalism. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this kind of reportage, but problems arise when it tips over into tendentiousness, when one has the distinct impression that the journalist is grinding an axe, that they’ve gone out to find the facts to fit – as opposed to test – their thesis, and that nothing they discover will sway them from the view with which they set out in the first place. This is the distinct impression left by this particular edition of Panorama….”

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How Quilliam used former EDL leaders to appeal for money

Hasan Lennon and NawazThe alacrity with which Quilliam embraced former English Defence League leaders Stephen Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”) and Kevin Carroll, and presented them at a heavily publicised press conference last October as men who had renounced their former extremist views, raised considerable suspicions among Quilliam’s critics. It has been widely suggested that Quillaim’s motive was to try and regain some of the lavish state funding they once enjoyed under Labour but which had been withdrawn by the present coalition government.

Sure enough, an FOI request has revealed that Maajid Nawaz, chairman and co-founder of Quilliam, immediately fired off two emails to Mark Carroll at the Department for Communities and Local Government asking for financial assistance to facilitate Lennon and Carroll’s supposed break with extremism.

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Times discovers non-existent ‘rise in Muslim birthrate’

Times Muslim birthrate headlineToday The Times has a report by its investigations editor Dominic Kennedy titled “Rise in Muslim birthrate as families ‘feel British’”. The article has been copied and pasted by the Telegraph (“Almost a tenth of babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim, census figures show”) and by the Mail (“One in ten babies in England is a Muslim: Those practising the religion ‘could soon outnumber actively worshipping Christians'”).

Based on an analysis of the 2011 census figures, the report reveals that over 9% of children aged 0-4 are Muslim, whereas Muslims of all ages make up less than 5% of the population. Yes, it’s yet another of those Islamification of Britain articles.

One of the experts whose response to this news Kennedy quotes is David Coleman. He describes the figures as “startling”, although it is difficult to believe that a man who holds the position of Professor of Demography at the University of Oxford was genuinely surprised by the statistics. Kennedy doesn’t bother to tell his readers that Coleman is also co-founder of the right-wing campaign group Migration Watch and has a record of feeding the anti-immigrant hysteria of the right-wing press.

Even Coleman, however, is unable to deny the fact that birthrate among the UK’s Muslim community is falling – the precise opposite of the false claim made in the headline to Kennedy’s report.

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Lies and hysteria over ‘gender segregation’

UUK protest adWhen Universities UK published its guidelines on External Speakers in Higher Education Institutions last month it can hardly have anticipated the outcry that would result.

The publication’s rather pedantic discussion of the possible legal implications of a hypothetical public meeting where gender separation was requested by a visiting speaker unleashed a wave of outrage, with UUK being angrily denounced for advocating a system of discrimination that was variously compared to the US South in the 50s or South Africa under apartheid (a protest last Tuesday evening outside the UUK headquarters in London “echoed much of what Nelson Mandela fought for”, wrote the Telegraph‘s Emma Pearce).

Education secretary Michael Gove (author of the Islamophobic tract Celcius 7/7) stepped in to accuse UUK of “pandering to extremism”. And by the end of last week media fury had reached such a pitch that the prime minister himself felt it necessary to intervene, with a spokesman stating that David Cameron “doesn’t believe guest speakers should be allowed to address segregated audiences”.

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Muslim demographics, rabid Islamophobia and The Commentator

Muslim Demographics YouTube

The Islamophobic myth that Muslims are engaged in the gradual but inexorable conquest of the West takes different forms, depending on where you live.

In Tea Party circles in the USA you’ll encounter bizarre conspiracy theories about Muslim Brotherhood operatives having infiltrated the White House or even the top ranks of the Republican Party. In Europe the Islamic conquest myth more usually takes the form of scaremongering over demography – though US Islamophobes promote this version of the myth as well, presenting it as a horrible warning of the fate that will befall North America if it goes down the same road as Western Europe.

A notorious YouTube video entitled “Muslim Demographics” has proved particularly popular in such circles, having so far attracted nearly 14 million viewers. It claims that, as a result of population growth within European Muslim communities, “in 39 years France will be an Islamic Republic” and Germany “will be a Muslim state by the year 2050”.

This paranoid statistical gibberish has been debunked many times, notably by Doug Saunders in his book The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West? But that didn’t prevent The Commentator blog, which is an arm of the neocon-Zionist outfit the Henry Jackson Society, from posting an article last week under the headline “The Islamic future of Britain”. Subtitled “Britain is in denial. If population trends continue, by the year 2050, Britain will be a majority Muslim nation”, the article presents the usual nonsense about demographic change bringing about the downfall of western civilisation.

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Dawkins defends Enlightenment values

iERA UCL debate

Last Saturday the Islamic Education and Research Academy organised a debate at University College London between iERA’s Hamza Tzortzis and atheist scientist Lawrence Krauss on the topic “Islam or atheism. Which makes more sense?”

Krauss was unhappy about the organisation of the event, claiming that the audience was separated on the basis of gender, and he tweeted the following comment, which was widely publicised: “Almost walked out of debate as it ended up segregated + saw 3 kids being ejected for sitting in wrong place. I packed up and they caved in.”

Krauss’s complaint was seized on by fellow atheist Richard Dawkins, who informed his Twitter followers: “At UC London debate between a Muslim and Lawrence Krauss, males & females had to sit separately. Krauss threatened to leave.” He added sarcastically: “I don’t think Muslims should segregate sexes at University College London events. Oh NO, how very ISLAMOPHOBIC of me. How RACIST of me.”

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Maryam Namazie and her allies

Enemies Not AlliesThis week Maryam Namazie of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran announced the publication of a new book, Enemies Not Allies: The Far-Right. Co-authored by Namazie and Adam Barnett, it is issued under the imprint of One Law For All, an organisation launched by the WPI and its friends to campaign against the supposed threat posed by Sharia law in the UK.

The authors claim that the far right have “attempted to hijack legitimate criticism of Islamism” and the stated aim of their book is to establish the differences between the position of OLFA and that of “racist campaigns and organisations”. So we are given a summary of the ideology and political practice of the British National Party and the English Defence League, and of Stop Islamisation of Europe and its US franchise headed by Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, all of whom the authors roundly denounce.

Now it is certainly true that the WPI have major differences with the BNP, the EDL, SIOE and SIOA. Obviously Maryam Namazie and her comrades do not have a long history of activity on the neo-Nazi right like Nick Griffin, they do not head a violent anti-Muslim street movement like the leaders of the EDL, nor are they rabid ultra-Zionists like Pamela Geller. However, when it comes to Islam, the common ground that exists between the WPI and sections of the Islamophobic right, including some of its most extreme elements, is quite clear. And that is something Enemies Not Allies completely ignores.

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Pat Condell claims all rapists in Oslo are ‘Muslim immigrants’

Oslo rapes TV report
Misleading Norwegian TV report on the findings of police study of rapes in Oslo

Last week the National Secular Society’s favourite “comedian” Pat Condell posted his latest video on YouTube. Entitled “Islamic cultural terrorism”, it was enthusiastically received by Condell’s fellow anti-Muslim racists in the English Defence League.

EDL Pat Condell

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