Over 100 MPs express outrage over 'Nazi-like' Sun column language

Written by Agnes Chambre on 16 August 2017 in News

MPs line up to condemn Sun columnist's use of the phrase "The Muslim problem"

British newspapers - PA

More than 100 MPs have condemned The Sun and called for action over “Nazi-like language” in a column about Muslims this week.

The signatories to the letter, organised by Labour MP Naz Shah and published by The Independent, said it was truly “outraged by the hate and bigotry” in the piece written by former political editor Trevor Kavanagh.

The column asked what Britain could do about its “Muslim problem” and claimed the country and Europe were united by “one unspoken fear” about Islam.

Kavanagh wrote in reference to the conviction of 18 men in Newcastle due to sex grooming: “The common denominator, almost unsayable until last week’s furore over Pakistani sex gangs, is Islam.”

“Thanks to former equalities chief Trevor Phillips, and Labour MPs such as Rotherham’s Sarah Champion, it is acceptable to say Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem…

“One day soon, if Philip Hammond and Liam Fox are right, we will be back in charge of immigration. What will we do about The Muslim Problem then?”

The letter is signed by Labour, Tory, Green and Liberal Democrat MPs, including Conservative former ministers Anna Soubry and Baroness Warsi.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner were also among the signatories.

Although Jeremy Corbyn did not sign the letter, he praised its contents, saying “published statements that incite Islamophobia and stigmatise entire communities”.

“That is wrong, dangerous and must be condemned, as Naz Shah's public letter does in the clearest possible terms,” he said.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, Tell Mama and Faith mama also complained about the column, sending a joint statement to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso).

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

The MPs said there was “little doubt” that the phrase was a comparison to “The Jewish Problem”.

The letter continued: “It is shocking that in the 21st century a columnist is using such Nazi-like terminology about a minority community.

“We are sure that you are aware how media reporting about Islam and Muslims has created an atmosphere of hostility against Muslims and that hate crime against Muslims is on the rise.”

They urged the newspaper to retract the article and “strongly consider whether Mr Kavanagh’s brand of bigotry fits” with The Sun’s culture.

The Sun rejected the allegation the column incited Islamophobia and defended its publication.

“[Trevor Kavanagh] is reflecting the links between immigration, religion and crime in the context of a trial of largely Pakistani sex gangs,” a spokesperson said.

“Any suggestion that this article is promoting Islamophobia 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.”

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