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Ofcom receives over 500 complaints after Sky News airs ‘unsubstantiated’ anti-Muslim views by former UKIP leader

29th Nov 2019
Ofcom receives over 500 complaints after Sky News airs ‘unsubstantiated’ anti-Muslim views by former UKIP leader

Lord Malcolm Pearson (Credit: Euro Realist Newsletter/WikiCommons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

The UK’s media regulator is assessing “whether or not to investigate” after it received 528 complaints about comments made by former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Lord Malcolm Pearson on the country’s Muslim birthrates on Sky News.

Sky News is accused of breaching Ofcom’s impartiality code when it allowed Pearson “a known Islamophobe” to spread unsubstantiated anti-Muslim views.

Appearing on Adam Boulton’s All Out Politics show on October 31, Pearson repeated the ‘Great Replacement’ far-right conspiracy, a theory that has been cited in numerous manifestos of far-right terrorists – including Anders Breivik, the El Paso shooter, as well the as the Christchurch mosque shooter.

During his six-minute interview Pearson, who led UKIP from 2009 to 2010, branded Prophet Muhammed a “violent warlord” and said that the “Muslim birth rate is going up 10 times faster than ours” that “In 12 years time, 11 local authorities, including Birmingham, will be Muslim majority” and that “one of the World’s leading Muslims said to a friend of mine the other day, ‘We really don’t need to go on blowing you up.

All we need is to wait because we will take over your culture through the power of the womb and ballot box.’”

In its complaint to media watchdog the Office of Communications (Ofcom), Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), insisted that ‘No evidence is provided to demonstrate that any of the three statements are legitimate.

With the latter-most argument is entirely based on anecdotal evidence that seeks to portray Muslim communities as a demographic and political threat.’

The complaint continues, ‘the incident is in breach of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code, in particular: [code] 2.2 Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience.’

And ‘[code] 5.1 news, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.’

MEND said, “it is deeply concerning” that Pearson was able “to propagate such baseless statements without confrontation and request by the presenter to provide any evidence.”

The Centre for Media Monitoring also filed a complaint with Ofcom. The group which advocates ‘fair, unbiased and accurate reporting on Muslims and Islam’ says they are ‘appalled’ that someone ‘known for his intolerant views on Islam would be given a platform this morning on Sky News.

Even worse is the interviewer, utterly failed to sufficiently challenge his views.’
The Centre for Media Monitoring added that Pearson’s appearance portrays ‘an important and disturbing phenomenon – that bigots are hiding behind Brexit to foment hostility against Muslims.’‘

But even worse, Sky News failed in its duty to ensure, Due Impartiality of Views. This is a violation of Ofcom regulations, specifically Section 5.12, and as such we have today issued a formal complaint to the watchdog.’

An Ofcom spokesperson told The Muslim News, “We have received 528 complaints following Lord Pearson’s comments on All Out Politics. We are assessing the complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate.”

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