Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
.InshAllah.

The man correcting stories about Muslims

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

The man correcting stories about Muslims

By Catrin NyeVictoria Derbyshire programme
  • 19 January 2017
  •  
  • From the sectionUK
Miqdaad Versi Image captionEvery day, Miqdaad Versi searches newspapers looking for errors concerning Muslims and Islam

When one newspaper reported last year that "enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim" last year, Miqdaad Versi's instinct was to challenge it. He believes errors in the reporting of Muslims have become all too common, and has made it his mission to fight for corrections.

Miqdaad Versi sits in front of a rather geeky-looking spreadsheet at the offices of the Muslim Council of Britain in east London.

He is the organisation's assistant secretary general, but the task in front of him is a personal project.

The spreadsheet has on it every story published concerning Muslims and Islam that day in the British media - and he is going through them looking for inaccuracies.

If he finds one, he will put in a complaint or a request for a correction with the news organisation, the press regulator Ipso, or both.

Mr Versi has been doing this thoroughly since November, and before that on a more casual basis. He has so far complained more than 50 times, and the results are visible.

He was personally behind eight corrections in December and another four so far this month.

Miqdaad Versi tweet pointing out correction in the Sunday Times Image captionMiqdaad Versi tweets diagrams showing corrections and apologies made following his complaints

In the past, corrections to stories were mostly printed when individuals were the victims of inaccurate reporting, but Mr Versi is looking at a whole topic.

"Nobody else was doing this," he tells the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme. "There have been so many articles about Muslims overall that have been entirely inaccurate, and they create this idea within many Muslim communities that the media is out to get them.

"The reason that's the case is because nobody is challenging these newspapers and saying, 'That's not true.'"

line break

Find out more

Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News channel.

See Catrin Nye's full film on this issue here.

line break

Mr Versi goes through some of the corrections from December. Five of them concerned a review into integration by Dame Louise Casey. The Sunday Times reported that "Enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim" in a preview of the review.

This was incorrect, with the review actually citing a survey of pupils in one largely Asian school who thought 50-90% of the population in Britain were Asian.

The paper corrected the article, and later apologised. As the same story was reported in other publications, it led to five corrections.

Mr Versi highlights another article, concerning the Muslim president of the National Union of Students (NUS). She was accused on Mail Online of refusing to condemn so-called Islamic State, when she had openly done so.

Also in December, he points out a report in the Sun on Sunday confused the identities of two Muslim individuals - one fighting against extremism and one accused of extremism.

Tweet from Miqdaad Versi reading: 'The Sun on Sunday apologises for mixing up 2 black people: ISIS-supporter &

"Quite a mix-up," says Mr Versi.

He has met several newspaper editors and has been pleased with the quick corrections he has received in some cases.

But he is concerned that these revisions are not obvious enough to the reader.

"Sometimes the corrections lack a clear acknowledgement of the error they made and often do not include an apology. In addition, they are rarely given the prominence of the original article," he says.

He adds that while he is concerned with "significant failings" in the reporting of Muslims, the same issues "might also be replicated for refugee, migrant or other groups".

'No middle ground'

One particularly high-profile correction in December last year - that Mr Versi was not behind - involved a 2015 article in which Mail Online columnist Katie Hopkins wrongly suggested Zahid Mahmood and his brother were extremists with links to al-Qaeda, after they had not been allowed to board a plane to the US.

The paper and Ms Hopkins apologised and paid £150,000 in damages.

At his home in Walthamstow, north-east London, Mr Mahmood says he has forgiven her. He now says it is not her original false accusations that he finds the most upsetting, but the public reaction.

"First they were all against us when Katie Hopkins published the article, and then when she made the apology a year later - then they all turn against her.

"There's no middle ground. It's not just about Katie Hopkins, it's the mindset of people - how they can very easily be led against somebody, or in favour of somebody."

Zahid Mahmood Image captionZahid Mahmood says he holds "no grudge" against Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins

Mr Mahmood says he feels this kind of reaction is causing divisions in society, and - keen to do his bit for unity - tells the BBC he is formally inviting Katie Hopkins to his home for tea and coffee.

"We have no grudge against her, and we would like her to learn and know that we are as British as she is.

"In fact, my wife's grandfather and great-grandfather both fought in World War One and World War Two. They fought for the very freedom of this country."

Mr Versi says he wants to improve community relations too. He thinks inaccurate reporting has far-reaching consequences, especially because negative stories are often widely circulated by far-right groups and then the corrections are not.

Some free speech campaigners, however, are concerned about this kind of work. Tom Slater, deputy editor of Spiked Online, says these complaints could create a fear of reporting certain issues.

"I, like anyone else, want a press that's going to be accurate... but what we're seeing here is quite concerted attempts to try and often ring-fence Islam from criticism."

Mr Slater says he found a recent correction to a story about a suspected "honour killing" particularly problematic.

Tom Slater Image captionTom Slater worries such complaints are attempts to "ring-fence Islam from criticism."

In May 2016, the Mail Online and the Sun used the phrase "Islamic honour killing" in their headline.

Mr Versi successfully complained to Ipso that Islam does not condone honour killings and that the phrase incorrectly suggested it was motivated by religion.

The word "Islamic" was removed from the papers' headlines, and at the bottom of the articles they wrote: "We are happy to make clear that Islam as a religion does not support so-called 'honour killings.'"

Mr Slater says he found that statement added by the papers "absolutely staggering".

"We all know a religion is just an assortment of ideas and principles. What these papers were effectively asked to do, and what they did do, was to print one accepted interpretation of a religion - and to me this was just like backdoor blasphemy law."

Mr Versi, however, insists his work is about ensuring the facts are right - not silencing critics.

He says there are many examples where Muslims can be rightly criticised and he is not complaining about those.

"All I'm asking for is responsible reporting."

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38655760

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/20/2017 at 2:47 PM, DigitalUmmah said:

does anyone have any contact with @JawzofDETH? our Wikipedia task force was a good initiative

Comrade, I am not available much these days, please take feel free to take up the mantle and continue where we left off. While many people welcomed the idea, we didn't get much support from Admins and Mods at the time we started, I hope you succeed where we failed.

 

In the meantime as a audio book narrator please visit my Download My Books Torrent , on the last page, is a collection of Islamic books, I hope it's helpful.

 

Was-Salaam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, JawzofDETH said:

Comrade, I am not available much these days, please take feel free to take up the mantle and continue where we left off. While many people welcomed the idea, we didn't get much support from Admins and Mods at the time we started, I hope you succeed where we failed.

 

In the meantime as a audio book narrator please visit my Download My Books Torrent , on the last page, is a collection of Islamic books, I hope it's helpful.

 

Was-Salaam

Come back and lead us.

If you come back, i promise you i will work with you and those of us on the old task force will join up again. We will probably get a load of new guys too.

This was *your* initiative, and you deserve to lead it. I dont want some randomer who wasnt even part of it, ressurrecting it then claiming the credit "look at me i made sc great again". 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/3/2017 at 1:36 PM, DigitalUmmah said:

Come back and lead us.

If you come back, i promise you i will work with you and those of us on the old task force will join up again. We will probably get a load of new guys too.

This was *your* initiative, and you deserve to lead it. I dont want some randomer who wasnt even part of it, ressurrecting it then claiming the credit "look at me i made sc great again". 

Not possible for me, I am spent, I have no time to give this place. You MUST continue! Lead it with Allah's help! You have our history, see where we stumbled initially and Go forth!

Was-Salaam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...