Nearly 6000 people have signed a petition urging the press watchdog to investigate British newspapers’ hostility towards migrants, refugees and Muslims.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is being pressured to launch an inquiry into “press racism”, following a petition signed by at least 6,000 people calling for an investigation into allegations of discriminatory reporting practices.
The petition was launched by campaign group Global Justice Now after Trevor Kavanagh, former political editor of The Sun, wrote an article about Brexit and grooming gangs and referred to “The Muslim Problem”.
The petition states:
Kavanagh’s article was widely condemned and IPSO received a complaint letter from Muslim and Jewish groups who said that the article echoed the language used to describe Jews in Nazi Germany.
Last month, IPSO was also called to investigate the hate, anti-Muslim hatred and racism “espoused in the British Press”.
The petition calls for Kavanagh to step down from his position as board member at IPSO during the investigation, “so that IPSO can make an effective, unbiased enquiry”.
Kavanagh wrote a follow-up piece defending his language and calling the criticism “a pernicious attempt to stifle and smother free speech”.
He added: “I can honestly say it never occurred to me that this could be interpreted as a play on “the Jewish Problem” and I will happily apologise to anyone who is thus offended.
“Perhaps this is because I have never believed there was a Jewish Problem. There certainly was a Nazi problem with the Jews. And there was the nightmare of “the Final Solution”.
“But the Jews have never been a problem as far as I am aware.”
Research has shown attitudes towards Islam have been worsened by reporting in the general media.
Research published this week by HOPE not hate revealed that more than half of people in England believe the Islam “poses a threat” to the West.
“The fear and hostility displayed towards Muslims is deeply worrying, despite most people claiming that they stand firm against extremists’ attempt to conflate their heinous actions with that of an entire religion,” said Nick Lowles, founder of HOPE not hate.
“Kavanagh is using the actions of a small group of individuals to place blame on a whole religion of 1.8 billion people,” said Chris Frost, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) ethics council chair.