Earlier this month, The Sun newspaper ran a front page claim that an ‘Exclusive Shock Poll’ had revealed ‘1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis’ – a claim which has since been proven totally false. Their response sums up everything that is wrong with the paper.
Here is the original front page The Sun ran on November 23.
Kelvin McKenzie argued that this poll was proof that it is ‘time for Britain to shut the door’ on Muslim immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees. He characterised Britain’s Muslims as the enemy within, using the most emotive and cutting language – all on the premise of the poll findings.
However, what we learned shortly after was that this was a total misrepresentation of the poll.
Firstly, the front page implies a large group of British Muslims were asked if they sympathised with jihadis, and that one in five said yes. But that was not what happened. Actually, one thousand British Muslims were asked: “How do you feel about young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria?”
Note, the question does not specify which group they would be going to fight for (pro or anti-Islamic state), and there was no mention of ISIS or Jihad.
Secondly, sympathy, as defined by the study, did not equal support. Instead, it means ‘understanding of the distress or need of another person.’
And finally, The Sun also neglected to mention that non-Muslims were asked the same question in the poll, and responded in exactly the same way. As our writer Mike Carr asked at the time – why did The Sun not run the headline ‘1 in 5 non-Muslim Brits sympathise with jihadis’?
Survation, who conducted the poll, came out with a strong statement condemning the way in which their data was used, writing:
Survation do not support or endorse the way in which this poll’s findings have been interpreted.
Survation categorically objects to the use of any of our findings by any group, as has happened elsewhere on social networks, to incite racial or religious tensions.
Soon, this became the most complained about news story in history, with the media regulator the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO) receiving a record-breaking 2,000+ complaints.
Thanks to public pressure and near universal condemnation of the misleading headline, fellow Murdoch rag The Times was forced to apologise.
Did they put this on the front page, as we do at The Canary? Not exactly.
It was buried away on Page 36.
— Adnan (@Addnaannn) November 26, 2015
So, just in case you missed it, we thought we would draw your attention to it.
But as Media Blog points out, The Times’ story ran a whole day after The Sun, by which point the story had already been discredited completely. The paper made the decision to run with a story it knew was false, and run this tiny apology days later, knowing it would reach nowhere near the audience the lie had.
So despite being rumbled by the pollsters, the public, and their own sister paper – The Sun still can’t bring itself to apologise.
The case epitomizes the distortion and misrepresentation of facts, data and evidence by the established corporate media. There is no doubt that The Sun and The Times fuelled suspicion against British Muslims with this story. They have been backed up by parallel relentless attacks by the Daily Mail and Express. In fact, their efforts have likely contributed to the 65% rise in hate crimes against Muslims in London alone in the last 12 months.
This reckless persecution of minorities is unacceptable in any country claiming to be civilised or democratic. If Britain wants to be a force for good in the world, we need to start at home. We need to rise above our own private fears and prejudices, and live alongside each other with greater respect and compassion. A small but significant first step on that journey is cutting out any media which exists purely to sow fear and division. Frankly, you deserve better.
UPDATED 30/11/15: The original article misattributed The Times’ apology for The Sun’s. Thank you to our readers for pointing us back on the right direction!
Featured Image via Mirror
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