Last week the Times published a report about a judge’s decision to allow a request from an Orthodox Jewish couple that a Beth Din court should be allowed to arbitrate in their divorce proceedings. Although the story concerned Jews rather than Muslims, the paper chose to run the report under the front-page headline “High Court opens way to Sharia divorces”.
The Muslim Council of Britain, who took the view that the coverage “was sensationalist and would help fuel Islamopobia”, wrote a letter to the Times complaining about the report, which was published in the paper today, albeit in an edited version.
The section of the letter that the Times decided to omit read: “Once again such reporting raises uninformed hackles against our faith, and what British Muslims really want. With a recent YouGov poll highlighting prevailing negative attitudes against British Muslims, there is a responsibility to report such matters fairly.”
So the MCB writes a letter to the Times complaining about Islamophobic bias, and the Times publishes it … minus the section that contains the actual complaint about Islamophobic bias!
Here, via the MCB website, is the full version of the letter:
We find it odd that your report of a landmark divorce settlement under Jewish Beth Din Courts should be framed under the narrative of Islamic Sharia courts (High Court opens way to Sharia divorces, 1 February). Once again such reporting raises uninformed hackles against our faith, and what British Muslims really want. With a recent YouGov poll highlighting prevailing negative attitudes against British Muslims, there is a responsibility to report such matters fairly.
Of course, we do welcome any move facilitating choices for those who wish, as Muslims, for their personal relationships to be governed by a Shariah civil code. This legitimate aspiration requires full discussion in an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance. It allows for British Muslims to fulfil their religious obligations under British law. It does not require a change in British law, or a diminution in human rights. We seek parity with other faiths, not special favours.
Muslim Council of Britain