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We Think Bigotry Will Never Reach UK Shores But Looking At Our Newspapers You'll See That It Has

15/08/2017 08:20 BST | Updated 15/08/2017 08:20 BST
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"The Muslim Problem": that's what columnist Trevor Kavanagh asked the Sun's readers to find a solution for. If the phrase sounds familiar, it is. The language used appears to have been borrowed from the Nazis in the 1930s, where they implemented their "Final Solution" to the "Jewish problem" - a fact highlighted by the Board of Deputies of Jews.

Some might argue that this is nothing new: the Sun has a history of spreading hatred, from its Katie Hopkins' column dehumanising migrants by comparing them to "cockroaches" to its significantly misleading and dangerous front page "1 in 5 Brit Muslims' sympathy for Jihadis". But this goes beyond outrageous and vile bigotry, which often finds itself within the Sun's pages.

In the UK, in 2017 we have a national newspaper with over 1.5 million readers, publishing Nazi language and specifically targeting Muslims. This - in a week where the Sunday Times reported 40 neo-Nazis were being investigated amidst fears they are plotting terrorist attacks against Muslims.

I genuinely could not believe what I saw.

In response, I could ignore his vitriol and spend this piece tackling the substance of Kavanagh's bigoted argument by detailing the evidence i.e. that the overwhelming majority of sex offenders are actually not Muslim.

Or I could discuss the principles of free speech and his right as a columnist to share his views by highlighting how racism, bigotry and Nazi language inciting hatred against any minority community should never be published in a national newspaper.

Or I could point out that litany of disgusting views and hatred spread by Kavanagh that he refuses to apologise for, from his attack on Fatima Manji for wearing a headscarf and for raising a complaint about his bigotry, to his lies about Muslims and migrants.

But what really hurt me beyond the appalling decision by the Sun's editors to publish the piece, was the sharp contrast in how people reacted only a couple of weeks ago when the Sunday Times published the awful sexist piece containing anti-Semitic tropes by Kevin Myers. The social media of the liberal commentariat was rightly outraged and Myers was sacked within 24 hours.

Yet in this case, there has been barely any concern from these very same journalists, with some notable exceptions. Worse than that, Kavanagh remains a member of the Board of the "independent" press regulator Ipso, which is tasked with overseeing the press and its adherence to the "highest professional standards".

As violence against Muslims is on the rise and is linked to media reporting of Islam and Muslims, as hatred against Muslims appears to becoming socially acceptable and prevalent even amongst children, and as even Equalities Shadow Minister appears to be joining in the bigotry, I understand feelings of double standards and fear that appear to be more and more common in Muslim communities.

We look across Europe and the US often believing that we are better as such bigotry will never reach our shores.

But as so many stand by and do nothing, I think it already has.