The national media has corrected at least 20 “significant inaccuracies” about Muslims in news stories over the last year.
And according to Miqdaad Versi, who is assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council and has been closely monitoring the coverage, there may be many more as he has only been closely monitoring coverage for last two months.Stories which have been corrected include the following:
- Mail Online: Katie Hopkins falsely linked the Mahmood family to extremism
- The Sun (print): wrongly reported that 1 in 5 Brit Muslims had sympathy with jihadis
- The Sun (online): falsely reported there was an act of terror as a gunman screamed “Allahu Akbar” and opened fire in Spanish supermarket when in fact the individual named Stefan spoke Basque and had psychological problems and did not open fire or scream “Allahu Akbar”
- Express: falsely reported new £5 notes could be banned by religious groups as Bank can’t promise they’re Halal
- The Times: called a school “Islamist” instead of “Islamic”
- The Sunday Times: falsely reported that enclaves of Islam see Britain as 75% Islamic when it was actually some young children in one particular school.
This last story was shared by extreme right groups Britain First and the English Defence League on Twitter.
Versi, who has prompted most of the corrections himself, said: “Journalism plays a vital role in our democracy and the brilliant work by many journalists is being tarred by this consistent stream of negative and inaccurate reporting about Muslims.
“Newspaper editors need to seriously consider whether such a large number of inaccuracies on this one issue, is in line with the basic standards of professional standards that they claim to adhere to, or whether it is indicative of the prioritisation of click-baiting over accuracy in the case of serial offenders.
“This has real-life consequences as far-right extremists share such false stories, leading to rising hostility towards Muslims.”
Versi sees the number of inaccuracies as evidence that press regulator IPSO has failed.
He said: “IPSO has thus far failed to deter inaccurate stories from being published and to require corrections of equal prominence to the original error – and it is just not good enough.
“I can only hope that serious consideration will be given to stronger penalties, in particular for serial offenders. There needs to be a stronger deterrent to reporting that fails to meet the highest professional standards that members of the press subscribing to IPSO have undertaken to maintain.”
Table of inaccurate news stories which have been corrected (source: Miqdaad Versi):