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Conference Outline

Venue: St Brides Church, Fleet St , London EC4Y 8AU, Thursday 11th
September 2008

The International Media Council, in partnership with the St Brides Forum, held a half
day seminar on the seven year anniversary of 9/11 at St Brides‟ Church in Fleet
Street, the traditional spiritual home of the UK press. Discussion was ranging and
compared the US and UK views on the immigration issue and the development of an
integrated society. Furthermore the discussion addressed racism, xenophobia and the
effectiveness of the United States‟ policy of integration along with lessons to be
learned from the British model with its emphasis on multiculturalism. Participants
examined efforts at social cohesion and their relative success in incorporating
immigrant communities of different ethnic background. Discussion also looked at the
degree to which these communities participate in the political process.


      A non-denominational service was be held preceding the opening of the
       conference and will be taken by Rev David Meara and Rev. George Pitcher of
       the St Brides‟ Forum. Ambassador Hon Mark G Hambley gave a short address
       during the course of the service to mark the seven year anniversary of 9/11.

Opening Speaker:

                                        Mr Shahid Malik MP, The Minister for
                                         International Development will open the


Immigration: Is Integration better than a multi-cultural approach?

Panel chaired by George Pitcher, St Brides’ Forum

Keynote Speaker:

                                        Dr Phyllis Starkey MP, Chair, The
                                         Communities and Local Government

                                        Hon Mark G Hambley, former Director of
                                         Outreach to the Islamic World for the USA;
                                         Former Ambassador to Qatar and Lebanon;
                                        Former Chief Negotiator on Climate
                                       Michael Goldfarb, freelance journalist and
                                        commentator, USA
                                       Liza Davis, Cultural Attaché, US Embassy
                                       Dr Gloria Gordon, Centre for British African
                                        Caribbean Studies; author, Towards
                                        Bicultural Competence

Racism, Prejudice, Islamophobia: The media’s coverage
Panel chaired by Ambassador Mark G Hambley

                                       Paisley Dodds, London Bureau Chief,
                                        Associated Press
                                       Baria Alamuddin, Al Hayat newspaper
                                       Sharif Nashashibi, Arab Media Watch
                                       Adel Darwish, Just Journalism
                                       William Morris, Chairman, The International
                                        Media Council
                                       Professor Robert Pinker CBE, The Press
                                        Complaints Commission (PCC)

Rev. George Pitcher of the St Brides‟ Forum gave his observations in conclusion.
                           Conference Minutes
                    Islamophobia/ Anti-Semitism
                                     In the Media

                        St Brides, 11th Sept 2008

Shahid Malik, MP:

I want to speak in a personal capacity. This is a fascinating debate and discussion and
I would like to begin by giving this advice, taken from a Chinese proverb, to anybody
with political ambition: „a fool learns from their own mistakes, a wise person learns
from the mistakes of others.‟

I‟m an MP for Dewsbury, which seemed as though it was a quiet constituency. As it
happened, however, it was Dewsbury where the BNP recently received the highest
vote in the country. It was also Dewsbury where the leader of the 7/7 bombers came
from, as did the youngest convicted terrorist in the country.

Enid Powell wanted to give £2000 to immigrants to send them home. At that time
Lenny Henry, upon winning an award said, „thanks, but it only costs me £2.50 to get

I‟m British and I‟m proud of it. We are one nation and one people. Our diversity is a
strength and it binds us together. As a nation we have become very good at
celebrating our diversities but not so good at acknowledging our commonalities.

Lenin said that there are decades where nothing happens and weeks where decades
happen. Who would have thought, several years ago, that the Berlin Wall would
come down or that there would be an African-American running for the White House?
However, change is not always positive. After the Holocaust, who would have
thought that Kosovo could have happened? Forty-one years after the UN resolutions
in Kashmir and Palestine the situations are still unresolved. Every three seconds a
child dies from poverty. Who would have thought these things? Or that 9/11 could
happen or that we would have home-grown suicide bombers in this country?

In the UK in 2002, the BNP won its first seat. In London people thought it was a
„Northern problem‟ which I think is a shockingly complacent reaction. We cannot
afford the luxury of complacency. In the 2005 election there were historic votes for
the BNP and yet there was the lowest turn out of voters to date. In Zimbabwe people
die to get the vote as did women here in the UK. We put Democracy on a pedestal
but only 60% of the population voted in the last election.
I think that Muslims have no reason to apologise for 9/11 or 7/7. The last bombing
that occurred in the UK before this was carried out by a member of the BNP who
killed three people, he doesn‟t by any means represent white or Christian opinion.
Evil has no religion. Muslims have also died during many terrorist atrocities. They
are not responsible for them, yet they do have a responsibility. In the same way that it
is mainly white people who need to defeat the BNP, it is Muslims who need to defeat

The Media is partly responsible for Islamophobia. The majority of people in the UK
have never met anyone different to them. There is a general lack of understanding of
Islam in the UK, and the basis for most people‟s understanding of Islam comes from
the Television. If all that people hear about Islam is negative, they can't be blamed for
having negative views. 67% of times religion in mentioned in the news, it is about
Islam, even though Muslims make up only 3% of the population. Almost 100% of
this coverage is negative. The media, along with politicians, have a responsibility to
change this. The Sun, for example, fabricated a story in which Muslims destroyed the
houses of soldiers who were in Iraq. They also fabricated a story in which Muslims in
a hospital demanded to have their beds turned towards Mecca five times a day. In
reality, however, it was the dying request of one man to have his bed turned to face
Mecca. Although the newspaper was informed of this, I received no response.
Politicians and the Media and both have power, with which comes responsibility.

In a radio interview I gave, one man called in who was upset as he felt that the
English were unable to celebrate their English culture. However when asked what
exactly it was that he wanted to celebrate, he was unable to answer. I believe that
people feel they are being denied something, even if they‟re not sure what it is, and
this leaves them with a psychological vacuum; this is a serious problem. When I was
growing up I would support any team that was playing against England. Then I met a
Scottish Muslim who wore a kilt and was proud to be Scottish, this made me realise
how English I was. The BNP think that to be English you have to be white and
Christian, but we have to accept that we are all English, regardless of what we look
like. If we ourselves don‟t accept our Britishness, how will others?

Martin Luther King said that injustice anywhere was a threat to justice everywhere.
Politicians have a lot of responsibility. I found the last Conservative campaign at the
election abhorrent when it came to the issue of immigration as I thought that they
preyed on people‟s fears. We do need to speak about immigration, but this has to be
undertaken in a responsible manner.

Nothing can ever justify terror and violence. Iraq is not the same as 7/7, as has been
claimed by some. The lethal ingredient such methods is a perverted interpretation of
Islam against which Muslims need to speak out.

The cure for segregation is integration. The duty of community adhesion is good, but
the solution is not simply to shove people together geographically; this is far too
simplistic. We need to create a condition that allows integration. The way forward is
a sense of community rather than the individual. MPs and Councillors need to ensure
that there are no vacuums and leadership is key in this matter. Politicians and the
Media need to think about the wellbeing of the people. Short-term gain is
undesirable. We need to tackle the roots of the problem for a long term strategy and
among them are ignorance, fear, prejudice and poverty. We must try to get people in
a room to speak to each other. I managed to bring people from a Muslim area
together with BNP supporters to talk. We have to take the initiative. Muslim
communities feel themselves to be viewed with suspicion and hostility. The last thing
we should do is muzzle debate. Fairness and equality are important and we cannot
afford complacency, instead we must focus on „myth-busting‟, for it is myths that
create disproportionate fears and phobias. We must promote justice and create
pressure valves to allow people to vent and talk about what they are really feeling.

I think multiculturalism is allowing people their values which fit into this country. At
the moment, there is too much segregation and we must become creative about
integration. If 7/7 had happened in Pakistan, at the hands to Christians, imagine how
many Christians would have been killed as a result. The reaction in England was
quite different. That is why I think this is one of the best countries you can live in as a
Muslim, especially compared to India, France or Holland. However, if there are more
attacks in England, who knows what could happen? The UK is second to none with
regard to the freedom and rights of Muslims. It is up to Muslims to work harder to
get on the righteous path. Muslims need to stop thinking about their 3% and start
thinking about everybody. We also need to utilise the women of the Muslim
communities to fight extremism.

I think we need to put the idea of tolerance in the bin. Tolerance is fickle. People talk
about tolerating the flu for example. We need to move to acceptance which runs a lot
deeper and opens the way for genuine understanding. You are either racist or anti-
racist. A quote by Edmund Burke says „the only thing necessary for the triumph of
evil is for good men to do nothing.‟


Adel Darwish:

How do you feel, as an MP, about the fact that New Labour often consult unelected
groups such as the Muslim Council of GB?


How does the British foreign policy influence British Muslims? What are your
personal feelings on police officers?

June Jacobs:

Do you think we have a responsibility to admonish one another?


(Regarding cohesion) How can we link with instability? Reach into local

Peter Dannheiser
What is your opinion on the current government policy with regard faith schools,
(particularly in the light of integration)?

Shahid Malik

I disagree with the premise of the question. The government deals with many different
groups. I am an elected politician and I believe we should all be elected. I find it
curious that the Muslim Parliament was not elected. I agree with the other side of
what you are saying. We must have as many people involved as possible. The
government has to listen to communities. We must speak directly to the people.


There is more research to be done. Are you, as a Muslim, upset about Iraq?

Shahid Malik

I am disappointed with the government but not angry.


Then you don‟t represent the majority of Muslim opinion because lots of people are
very angry. But why are only certain people blowing themselves up?

Shahid Malik

This is a perverted interpretation of Islam. A white person can‟t tell a Muslim they
haven‟t understood the Qur‟an properly, just like a Muslim can‟t disagree with a BNP
The MET is the most enlightened police force in the UK. It still has challenges and it
must give people confidence to join the MET. We live in an inter-dependent world.

Faith schools are a red-herring. There are 46 non-Christian faith schools in the UK out
of 11,000. The problem is, how do schools ensure they are inclusive and not

Panel 1

Michael Goldfarb

Integration in as many communities is an important concept. In the U.S., Martin
Luther King created a new way of thinking among African Americans, but at the time
Malcolm X was more influential than Martin Luther King. In London there are large
numbers of minorities. Multiculturalism reflects integration, and many people think
this means you can‟t be white in your own country. Integration in America took 2-3
generations with no legislation. All the government can do is to make sure that laws
exist that protect the people in public spaces. They can‟t force people to like one
another. Integration is something minorities have to do and which then benefits the
Synthesis daily from multiculturalism. Minorities have very little choice. Self-
segregation is defeating, such as the Jews in Palestine. Integration is the only path to
follow. Still, I‟m not sure the government can pass laws for us to love one another,
they can only make sure hatred is punished.

Dennis Sewell

I wish the MP was right in his view that social cohesion could be solved by improving
religious education. Islamic fundamentalism is more of a political phenomenon than a
religious one. The whole community is involved. We must talk to them and find out
why they are angry. They are angry because they have been lied to. What do they
expect us to do? Support the Taliban? It is a toxic issue. It is a war against terror is not
a war against Islam. Many people say immigration is a major concern of theirs. MPs
need to address this issue. (People need better understanding of immigration as often
they assume there is an immigration problem when there isn‟t).

The media isn‟t racist, it is often cowardly. Media forget the middle people. They talk
about immigrants in one breath but they are actually referring to many different
people groups. No one is being honest about the subject.

Dr Gloria Gordon

I represent black Caribbeans; a group who aren‟t talked about as much as they were in
21st Century Britain. We are considered „old hat‟. The solution to minority is bi-
cultural competence. In the UK we accommodate others and don‟t think about how to
accommodate ourselves. Integration is not addressed in terms of ethnic majority, old
problems are not resolved. People need to think “who am I and what does my cultural
heritage mean to me?” The ethnic majority need to think about what it means to be
British. The problems we see are due to a psychological vacuum. For bi-cultural
competence, we must engage with personal values. We must decide what it means to
be in modern Britain. A sense of psychological disorientation will remain until it is
addressed everywhere – schools et cetera.

Mark Hambley

In the 1930s Roosevelt gave a speech to the descendants of the Mayflower. He said to
them “My fellow immigrants”. What he meant by this was that the USA was based on
immigration. There are almost a million immigrants that enter the US every year. The
Americans killed the Native Americans, brought over 4 million African slaves into
the country and then brought in 200.000 Chinese to work as servants. The 1st
generation never integrated, they were always ghettoized. The 2nd and 3rd generations
were progressively able to integrate more. The English language is the common
denominator for all these people. There are 12 million undocumented immigrants to
be integrated. How? US immigrants can, and do, celebrate their ethnic backgrounds in
America. The undocumented immigrants will cause an immigration issue for the next

Ivor Lucas
I have spent 33 years living in or working with Muslim countries. I have a lot of
respect and admiration for Islam. I am sorry not to have heard a single word to say
that immigration and multiculturalism can contribute to our own culture. The one
point I do regret within Islam is that it does not like descent. Muslims tend to take
offense at anything said about their religion and they do not like their beliefs

Unknown participant

I don‟t understand what multiculturalism means. If someone speaks the language and
follows the laws, is he integrated? Why do we need separate schools? Integration
implies disintegration. The whole world is multicultural.

Mark Hambley

The richness of American culture is due to the cultural diversity.

Dr Gloria Gordon

Why is everybody not called by their national identity by the colour of their skin?
Black and white cultures are sub-cultures of British culture. There is only one race
and that is homo sapiens.

Michael Goldfarb

There is dialogue and debate within Islam. We live in a time when the generations are
arguing within the faith. This is temporary. In my opinion a fully integrated person is
someone who is known as American but still has the freedom only to be social within
their own ethnic group if they so choose.

Panel 2

Mark Hambley

Islamophobia is an irrational fear of Islam.

Robert Pinker

I am from the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) which deals with unethical press
conduct, discrimination and inaccuracy. The press must avoid prejudice – details of
race and colour and sexual orientation must be avoided unless it is relevant to the
story. This is designed for individuals not for collectives. If we extended the coverage
of this clause (Clause 12), it would impose restrictions on Freedom of the Press. There
is a subjective dimension to Islamophobia due to freedom of speech. Islamophobia is
a value-laden term. We need to look at where principles clash. Finding a balance is a
good starting point. There is a risk of loosing freedom of the press so as not to offend
and an example is the Danish cartoons.

Adel Darwish
We must have a state of free media even if it clashes with political correctness.
Without free press we can say goodbye to democracy. There is confusion between
Islam as a faith and as an institution in society. Radical Islam is a political
phenomenon. For example: The human rights case of 14 year-old girl who wanted to
wear the headscarf in school. The case was hijacked by radicals. Radical Islam has
found itself in the same trench as the left and extreme left, both having anti-American
views. They blame media and society, but the media did not invent Bin Laden or Abu
Hamza; they reported what was there. If a group calls itself „the Army of
Mohammed‟, the press is called Islamophobic, but we are just reporting the facts.

Paisley Dodds

I covered Guantanamo Bay for 4 years and was one of the group that decided to sue
the Pentagon for detainee names.
There is not one „media‟, the media does have a responsibility, but the tabloids (and
especially the British tabloids) do not represent the rest of the press. There has been
an erosion of access to information, particularly since 9/11. The governments have
made it hard for journalists to do their job, which makes it difficult to relate accurate
news to the public. The public must demand information, which they are not doing, as
journalists need access in order to break perceptions.

William Morris

Journalists have a responsibility. Terminology is important. For example, it is Muslim
terrorism, not Islamic terrorism. Muslim is the human side of Islam. The press has a
responsibility to promote peace and understanding. News and editorial is blurred; it is
difficult to differentiate between comment and reportage. The annual Media Awards
celebrate good journalism. In Iraq a terrifying number of journalists are killed. Racism
and segregation are on the increase worldwide. There is a lot of extremism in the
press today. We do not deal well with multiculturalism – the foreign office brings in
foreign Immams for the mosques but they don‟t relate to local youths (many don‟t
speak Arabic etc.) but there is no avenue to complain about this.
The press has failed to take responsibility for its principles. We must look at ourselves
as well as society.

Sharif Nashashibi

It is considered fair play to make racist comments about Muslims, whereas no one
would accept the same comments about Jews or homosexuals. I did a 2 week study of
how Muslims are portrayed in the press. I looked at words that preceded or followed
the words Muslim or Islam or Islamist:
50% had terms related to radicalism before or after the word Islam.
80% had terms related to radicalism before or after the word Islamist.
Therefore sections of the Media are Islamophobic. There is fear, ignorance and
sensationalism about Islam. Peter Oborne made a documentary about some of the
fabricated stories by tabloids about Muslims. The PCC deals with the issues but not
loudly enough, apologies in the press are not comparable to the grievance. There is
symbiosis with the media and extremists; extremists know that if they say or do
certain things the tabloids will pick them up, and the press know that writing about
certain things will sell newspapers. Sex, scandals and scary Muslims sell.

Khalid – Media councillor of Embassy of Sudan

Example of Islamophobia: After 21/7, some Sudanese students were arrested under
terrorist charges and put into prison for 3 years. They were all over the news. After
three years they were declared innocent but nothing could be found in the papers on
the subject. A mediator refused to condemn Mugabe to the Media and was criticised
for it, but now he is making good headway due to this refusal – once again nothing
could be found in the media.

Unknown Participant

A Journalist‟s job is to report and not comment. UK is on the soft-side of
Islamophobia. The tabloids and internet contribute to it. Journalists must be careful.
They must not call terrorists „Islamic‟ or „Muslim‟ as a terrorist is a terrorist. The IRA
were not referred to as „Roman Catholic terrorists‟. Traditional journalism is out of
the window.

Adel Darwish

The average age in the news room is much lower than before. Checking the accuracy
of sources has relaxed. (To Pinker) Statistically, how many complaints are there to the
PCC from Muslims?

Robert Pinker

Not all complaints about Islam in the media are made by Muslims. After 9/11 and 7/7,
17% of all complaints were about discrimination. But now such complains make up
only 2%. Limits are imposed because of the discrimination clause.

Paisley Dodds

There is still good journalism being done. Great pains are being made to make sure
there is no opinion-based news and to check sources; but this needs time and staff.
The industry is changing. People in Britain could be arrested under terrorism laws but
you don‟t know exactly what they are accused of which makes it difficult.

Robin Williamson

Is Islamophobia due to sloppy journalism, conspiracy or copying? Does it reflect the
views of the readers?

Sharif Nashashibi

All three. These are issues of time and resources. We are hard pressed to find un-
opinionated articles. We can find things missing from news due to a background
agenda. The choice of sources in the article can be an example of bias, and often the
whole story hasn‟t been reported.
In 2006, during the Lebanon war, the associated press had a death toll 1/3 less than all
the other papers and the official toll from the Lebanese government, but despite
persistent questioning we never received an explanation.

Robert Pinker

One example of a good news story: there was a complaint from a Polish group on 96
articles. The Daily Mail removed the articles from the web, and provided a space for a
lengthy letter. The complaint was resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned. There
was also a bookshop complaint where the Dar-El-Taqbar bookshop was attacked in
the news and subsequently threatened. It was found that the article did not contain
accurate sources and the article was satisfactorily retracted.

Sharif Nashashibi

Even if the issue is resolved, the apology is never as prominent as the original article.

Robert Pinker

A page 3 article can not necessarily have a page 3 retraction/apology. We do,
however, take this matter seriously and we are conscious of this problem.

Adel Darwish

Sometimes it is very difficult to verify facts after the events. The issue is that it is not
easy to verify facts in other countries. There is no excuse, however, for experienced
journalists to publish something that is incorrect or inaccurate.


The press must be aware that their power can cause damage. (He gave the example of
a meeting with a misquotation in a paper causing upset and trouble.)

William Morris

People don‟t know where to take complaints. There is a major problem due to the lack
of mechanism to deal with racist complaints. People complain less and less to the
PCC. The press doesn‟t have resources for the old fashioned type of journalism
anymore. It is the editors that are lacking in standards. There is a need to have real
checks and balances in the papers.


House of Commons statistics show that the most significant levels of hate crime in
Barking and Daghenam (BNP strongholds) were white on white of different


If you extend clause 10 then there is an enormous inhibitor on freedom press.
Paisley Dodds

Don‟t trust the government. Press for information as the press might be prohibited
from telling a story or the whole story.

Sharif Nashishibi

Editors are asked to cover regions beyond their expertise. The Lebanon war was
covered only from Israel. To avoid misquotation – tape the conversation.

Adel Darwish

I‟d rather keep getting it wrong than have prohibitions of writing.

William Morris

Such problems in the papers create a mentality. After 7/7 there was an increase in
attacks on Jews. Why did that happen? Racism is a mental attitude. The Press should
adopt stronger codes such as „an article without a source is a source of trouble‟. We
must put our own media in order before we criticise others.

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