Following complaints that The Sun was mimicking Nazi propaganda, the paper made an alteration. But the change is so tiny and pathetic that, if you blinked, you may have missed it.
107 cross-party MPs have written to the editor to complain about the article. And Jewish and Muslim organisations also issued a joint complaint to the press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso).
But The Sun‘s response to the criticism is truly pathetic. By 16 August, the paper had updated the article to remove the capital letters in the sentence:
Although The Sun then realised that it had still got it wrong; and that Muslim did indeed still need a capital letter. It therefore updated the article again:
Does removing capitals solve anything?
The use of capital letters in the original piece was highlighted in the complaint from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Tell Mama and Faith Matters. The complaint stated:
The printing of the phrase ‘The Muslim Problem’ – particularly with the capitalisation and italics for emphasis – in a national newspaper sets a dangerous precedent.
This was echoed by the MPs:
There is little doubt (especially with the capitalisation of the three words) that Kavanagh was intentionally comparing Muslims to the “The Jewish Problem”: a phrase used in the last century, to which the Nazis responded with the “Final Solution” – the Holocaust.
But as the letter continued:
It is shocking that in the 21st century a columnist is using such Nazi-like terminology about a minority community.
And there is no doubt that it was right to raise questions about the capitalisation of these words. But the removal of them does not make this article acceptable.
The Canary contacted The Sun to ask for comment regarding the removal of the capital letters but had not received a response at the time of publication.
The rise in hate crime
As the MPs’ letter points out, there is a serious problem in the UK with hate crime against Muslim communities. And the letter does not pull any punches with its accusations:
We are sure that you are aware how media reporting about Islam and Muslims has created an atmosphere of hostility against Muslims and that hate crime against Muslims is on the rise.
Muslims currently face threats from far right and neo-Nazi groups in the UK and your publication of this article can therefore only be seen as an attempt to further stoke up hatred and hostility against Muslims.
Hate crime rose after the Brexit vote, and it further spiked after the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester. The link between hate crime and media reporting has been well documented. A report from the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance accused the UK press of using “offensive, discriminatory and provocative terminology” and fuelling the rise in racist and xenophobic attacks after the Brexit vote.
Retract the article
But while complaints did highlight the use of capital letters, MPs called for stronger action. In fact, not only did they think The Sun should pull the article, they thought action should be taken against the writer:
We implore you to not only retract this article but given the sacking of Mr Myers following his disgraceful anti-Semitic article in the The [Sunday] Times, strongly consider whether Mr Kavanagh’s brand of bigotry fits with your vision for the paper.
The letter points out that this isn’t the first time The Sun has been accused of Islamophobia. For example, in 2015, the paper 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. Eventually, it apologised. But that apology was hidden on page 36 of the paper.
The paper, meanwhile, denied the most recent allegations. It stated:
We strongly reject the allegation that Trevor Kavanagh is inciting Islamophobia. He is reflecting the links between immigration, religion and crime in the context of a trial of largely Pakistani sex gangs.
It seems many organisations, MPs and the 150 people who complained to Ipso disagree.
It’s time to get serious
Events in the US are showing the real and present danger of the far right; and exposing the real dangers of not condemning their actions. There is a real problem with the hate speech peddled by our tabloid press. And The Sun’s response to these latest accusations is pathetic, to say the least.
It is down to all of us to expose the hatred and to boycott The Sun, The Daily Mail and other hate peddlers. We all need to let them know that their hate-filled bile is not in our name.
And it is down to us to take grassroots actions against racism and fascism whenever it occurs.
– Support Don’t Buy The Sun.
– Take grassroots action against racism.