The Sun has followed up its recent controversy about Muslim newsreaders by publishing an article linking Syrian refugees to rape and child abuse.
In an article published on Sunday titled SYRIA CRIME WAVE, the paper reports that ‘hundreds of Syrians in the UK’ have been arrested according to figures obtained from police.
It goes on to state that nearly 900 Syrians have been arrested in England and Wales in the last year according to figures it has obtained in a Freedom of Information request.
The sub-header for the story details how ‘shocking figures’ reveal a ‘string of offences including rape and child abuse’.
However, buried away near the end of the article it is noted that the majority of these offences are for minor immigration violations.
According to the report, it appears that of the 897 detailed offences, one was for sexual activity with an underage girl, two were for rape and nine were for other sex offences.
The vast majority of offences were for immigration violations. For those still undergoing the asylum process, these can be very minor things such as failing to report for a medical test, failing to produce documents on request or undertaking employment while a claim is being processed.
So why is The Sun reporting on the story as if the main concern is rape and child abuse if these make up just three (less than 1%) of the overall cases?
Of course, these individual offences are dreadful crimes and need to be dealt with accordingly. But to try and imply to readers that these crimes are widespread among a particular social group is dangerously misleading.
It would seem that The Sun is bending over backwards to distort the figures and link refugees to sexual offences, buying into a common right-wing narrative that has been running for nearly a year and stoking up fear and animosity among the home population.
Unsurprisingly, a host of right-wing and far-right publications and websites picked up and ran with the story, with some adding their own sick spin to it.
One blog called Rebel Media reported the story as ‘Over 900 Syrians arrested in England and Wales for sickening sexual crimes’. Another site called Terror Scoop reported ‘900 Syrians arrested in England and Wales for rape and child abuse’. Another reported that it was 900 ‘Muslim migrants’ arrested for these crimes.
This is quite clear evidence of The Sun misreporting on something and fuelling racial hatred among worrying sections of the public.
It has also been claimed that the figure of 897 reported crimes is not from the last year but covers the period 2011-15. This blog is putting in its own Freedom of Information request with the police authorities and will report back with accurate information that will be put into an overall context.
It is understood that the article has already been reported to IPSO as inaccurate and discriminatory and to the police for publishing material likely to stir up racial hatred. We cross our fingers for a suitable and severe punishment but won’t hold our breath.
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