UK media reported that some British Muslims think that Great Britain is 75 percent Islamic. But, of course, that isn’t even close to being correct. The real story –the one that the reports were based on — was that one school with Asian students in the UK thought 50 to 90 percent of Britain was Asian.
The statistics came from a new report from Dame Louise Casey on integration in Great Britain. The relevant line from the 199-page report:
“One striking illustration of such segregation came from a non-faith state secondary school we visited where, in a survey they had conducted, pupils believed the population of Britain to be between 50% and 90% Asian, such had been their experience up to that point.”
Miqdaad Versi, a management consultant who has previously called out the UK media for inaccurate issues on Islam, complained about four news outlets — the Mail, the Sun, the Times and the Express — and their inaccurate reporting on the report. Versi is the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. The Council has also been a source of controversy for its views on Holocaust Remembrance Day and Hamas. A 2015 report by the UK government on the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK stated the Muslim Brotherhood “played an important role in establishing and then running the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB)” in the 1990s. The Council’s website states it is “a national representative Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.”
The Mail corrected its story already, Versi told iMediaEthics by e-mail. The Mail‘s story, however, was still online as of last night. It was headlined, “Isolated British Muslims are so cut off from the rest of society that they see the UK as 75 per cent Islamic, shock report reveals.” The story was removed this afternoon.
Versi sent iMediaEthics a statement about the retraction, which reads, “I welcome the retraction from the Mail on Sunday and look forward to similar retractions from the Sunday Times, the Sun and the Daily Express, all of whom failed to take the basic steps to ensure accuracy in their reporting on this issue. It is seriously concerning that many parts of the media provide a loudspeaker to such hate by spreading untruths, which are then shared on far-right platforms. There need to be safeguards in place to deter future inaccuracies, as corrections alone are insufficient given the damage of the initial inaccuracy has already been done.”
On its corrections page, the Mail published the following correction:
“A news story last Sunday said the Casey review into ethnic integration would say that some British Muslims are so isolated they believe up to 75 per cent of the country is also Islamic. In fact the review refers to a survey in one school with Asian pupils who believed 50 to 90 per cent of the total British population was Asian.”
The newspaper also published a print correction, which Versi posted on Twitter.
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— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) December 11, 2016
The Mail wasn’t alone.
The Times published the Dec. 4 story, “Enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim.” The Sun‘s Dec. 4 story was headlined “British Muslims are so cut-off from society they think 75 per cent of the UK is Islamic, report reveals.” The Express‘s Dec. 7 story was headlined “Some Muslims so isolated in UK they believe country is 75% ISLAMIC, says shock report.” Versi told iMediaEthics his complaints concerning the Express and Times are currently with press regulator IPSO and he is still talking with the Sun.
iMediaEthics has contacted all four outlets for comment.
Last month, the Sun corrected and unpublished a story suggesting a train driver crashed a train because of Ramadan fasting, after Versi’s complaint.
In July, UK press regulator IPSO ruled in Versi’s favor over his complaints about the Mail‘s story claiming a woman may have been killed in an Islamic honor killing. “It is vital that news outlets do not encourage Islamophobia through the usage of clearly inaccurate and inflammatory headlines, especially in today‘s climate,” Versi told iMediaEthics at the time. “So-called honour killings are barbaric acts based in culture and not in faith.” IPSO agreed with Versi’s complaint that there was “no basis for saying that religion had played a role in this killing.”