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Islamaphobic Sun Column Condemned (16/08/2017)

A coalition of Jewish, Muslim and multi-faith groups was joined by over 100 MPs in condemning a column published in The Sun referencing "The Muslim Problem"

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Trevor Kavanagh (source: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

An article suggesting that Britain faces a “Muslim problem” resulted in an investigation of The Sun after a number of complaints noted parallels to Hitler’s “Jewish Problem.”

In a column published on Sunday, journalist and former Sun editor Trevor Kavanagh responded to a recent London School of Economics poll demonstrating stronger support for a “hard” Brexit, implicating that voters would prefer closed or more controlled borders with Europe.

Kavanagh wrote that the challenges of accepting refugees from Muslim-majority nations is “changing the face of Europe for ever.” He adds that immigration has threatened Sweden’s “identity as a nation” and led to “a wave of rape” in Germany, and suggests that Britain and Europe have been “gagged by political correctness.”

But it is the final line that was highlighted by both British Muslim and Jewish groups in their condemnation of the article: “What will we do about The Muslim Problem then?”

Almost immediately after the column was published, faith-based organizations Faith Matters, Tell MAMA, and the British Board of Deputies filled an official complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organization (of which Kavanagh happens to be a board member).

“The printing of the phrase ‘The Muslim Problem’ – particularly with the capitalization and italics for emphasis – in a national newspaper sets a dangerous precedent”, reads the complaint.

“We were horrified to read this in The Sun today, and we feel that it warrants swift condemnation by IPSO, and a prompt retraction and an apology by The Sun”, said a spokesperson for the Board of Deputies, adding “We will not tolerate indiscriminate attacks in the media on any faith community.”

Since the official complaint was filed, The Independent reported that a letter of condemnation to the The Sun’s editor was signed by 107 MPs.

Labour MP Naz Shah led the politically diverse group of Conservative, Lib Dem, Labour and Green party members, which included Shadow Home Secretary Dian Abbot and Education Secretary Angela Rayner.

“There is little doubt (especially with the application 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, as outlined by the Board of Deputies in their compliant letter to Ipso.”

The letter went on to note that Muslims are facing threats from an emboldened far-right and called for cutting Kavanagh out of the publication’s pages.

A spokesperson for The Sun has since responded, saying that Kavanagh’s piece was not inciting Islamaphobia, but “reflecting the links between immigration, religion and crime in the context of a trial of largely Pakistani sex gangs.”

“Any suggestion that this article is promoting Islamaphobia is a deliberate misreading of a very serious subject. Furthermore, it was never the intention that other elements of the column would be equated to Nazi-like terminology”, added the spokesperson.

Ipso had received at least 150 complaints about the article since Sunday, according to The Independent.


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