The Sun has written another biased article about a survey on Muslims, less than a year after IPSO ordered it to apologise for falsely claiming that 1 in 5 Muslims sympathised with ISIS.
The paper, which seems to have a serious problem with reporting accurately and fairly on these issues, has taken a survey carried out by Policy Exchange and has cherry-picked and distorted a couple of statistics in a deliberate attempt to stir up tensions.
The 87-page report, available here, is called Unsettled Belonging. It’s the biggest survey to-date of British Muslim opinion and was carried out to help inform government policies on integration, race relations and combating radicalisation.
The report highlights how British Muslims are largely similar to the rest of the UK in their views, although there is cause for concern in some areas. The key findings of the survey were:
Although generally more religious and socially conservative than the UK average, British Muslims are mostly secular in their lifestyles and have similar concerns over health, unemployment and immigration as the UK public as a whole.
British Muslims are more likely to condemn terrorism and political violence than the UK population as a whole and the majority are in favour of stronger law and order policies such as more police on the streets.
69% are in favour of secular education although 40% support gender segregated education.
British Muslims are highly actively engaged in British social and political life in terms of voting and making use of social and cultural amenities.
There is a high level of support among British Muslims for counter-extremism measures such as the Prevent programme. Nearly half (49%) feel that Muslims themselves should do more to tackle extremism.
There is high mistrust of mainstream media (only 34% trusting the BBC) and high levels of belief in conspiracy theories (40%). This is particularly high regarding the 9/11 attacks, with nearly four times more respondents (31%) believing that the American government were responsible than those that believe al-Qaeda were behind it (4%).
Although the vast majority are strongly committed to combating extremism, 26% deny that extremism exists at all.
So on the whole, far more similarities than differences. Some mistrust, belief in conspiracy and denial of extremism, but then these things are prevalent to some extent among the white British population also. As the authors state in the introductory summary, the results ‘for the most part offer comfort’.
A chance then, in these divisive times where fear of difference and racist attacks are on the increase, to reassure people that although there are problems that need addressing, we are ultimately more united by common goals and beliefs?
Not according to The Sun, who decided to run with the headline SECRET I.S. SAFE, reporting that ‘Half of British Muslims would not go to the cops if they knew someone with ISIS links’.
With a staggering intention to distort the information given in the survey, the paper is referring to a question that appears on page 61 of the report that asks interviewees ‘what they would do if they became aware someone close to them was getting involved with people who support terrorism in Syria’.
52% said that they would report it to the police. 26% said they would try and talk to the person directly to dissuade them. 20% said they would look for help from family and friends. 17% said they would get help from community leaders (it was a multiple choice question where more than one option could be picked).
Only 4% of people said they would do nothing. Yet The Sun is telling its readers that half would turn a blind eye (the paper didn’t bother reporting on those that said they would seek help through means other than going to the police).
The other parts of the survey that The Sun was most interested in reporting on? Well, obviously all the parts it could use to portray British Muslims in a negative light.
The paper writes that this ‘staggering new survey’ had found that ‘a quarter of Britain’s Muslims don’t believe extremist views exist’. It then went onto inform readers how a third of Muslims believe 9/11 was an inside job and 40% are in favour of gender segregated schools.
The paper also misleadingly suggests that two in five British Muslims support the introduction of sharia law, without clarifying that this refers only to civil law regarding financial disputes. Only 1% of those surveyed were in favour of full sharia law implemented by an Islamic government.
The more positive survey findings are buried towards the bottom of the article, obviously not as headline-worthy as the ‘Muslims are terrorist appeasers’ narrative. They’ve no doubt only been included so that the paper can attempt to offer a plea of balance in the event of another IPSO investigation.
The problem is, the paper has already been sanctioned once by IPSO for publishing pretty much the exact same lies and distortions. Yet it is blatantly willing to do the same thing again, no doubt safe in the knowledge that the worst that will happen is a small apology notice in six months’ time and maybe a small outcry in other sections of the media that will last a couple of days.
It is almost as if The Sun is laughing in the face of the regulators with an article designed to promote fear and hatred over unity and understanding. What more evidence could there be that current press sanctions in this country are just not working?
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