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Opportunity for IPSO to prove its worth

28th Dec 2017

It is just over three years since the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) was established to replace the discredited Press Complaints Commission, which had been the main media regulator since 1990. But IPSO hasn’t done much to show that it will not again be yet another damp squid or to respond to the desperate need to stamp out the dangerous Islamophobic behaviour of several national newspapers. The blatant case of the bias and contemptible hatred towards Muslims in the recent foster case of a ‘white, Christian 5-year old girl’ on four front pages of The Times is perhaps an ideal opportunity for the new body to prove its worth and show that it actually has teeth.

Tower Hamlets council has dismissed out-of-hand the rather convoluted claims about the alleged “forced” Muslim foster which resulted in up to nearly 299 complaints to be made to the IPSO against both The Times, which launched the tirade in this instance, and the Daily Mail, one of the papers to fan the flames of hatred. According to the Press-Gazette, the majority of complaints against the articles fell under three clauses of the Editors’ Code of Practice for accuracy, privacy and discrimination. Criticisms included the Mail using a stereotypical stock image of a Muslim family as well as adding a veil to the woman’s face to highlight their bigotry.

The rather sad state of affairs shows how low some of the national titles are prepared to stoop to discredit Muslims in what can only be described as provocative and inflammatory. It would be rather too courteous to say that the press used ‘misleading’ information to vent their hatred they actually told many untruths as the council’s own investigation has proved. Sir Martin Narey – the head of the Government’s inquiry into foster care provision – described The Times as having been “dishonest” and even refused to brief them after The Times’ story.

Claims that the girl had her crucifix necklace removed, that she was banned from eating pork, or that the foster families did not speak English were rebuffed by the council, which said in a statement it was “disappointed with the tone” of some of the media coverage. “While we cannot go into details of a case that would identify a child in foster care, there are also inaccuracies in the reporting of it,” it said. As one example, it said, “the child was in fact fostered by an English speaking family of mixed race” and not of one described by the dailies.

The Times chief investigative reporter Andrew Norfolk, who wrote the original story, has defended his article. He said that they were “difficult and sensitive issues” but that his job was to raise “serious concerns” and investigate them. In an interview with the BBC, he insisted that they were “demonstrably in the public interest.” As a campaigning paper, The Muslim News would argue that it is equally entitled to highlight Islamophobia in the media and to get it stamped out. It is also time for the IPSO to do its job thoroughly and properly, and stop making excuses to avoid ruling on this important story. If IPSO cannot be bothered to even investigate and censure a newspaper found to be propagating a false and hateful narrative, unequivocally misleading its readers on a story that was on its front page for four days, perhaps its critics are right and IPSO needs to be scrapped in favour of an alternative which will.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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