A European human rights body is pressuring the United Kingdom to regulate the press so its reporting on terrorist attacks doesn’t emphasize the Muslim identities and motivations of many terrorists.
The request comes from a lengthy report published by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), a monitoring body created by the Council of Europe. The report accuses British newspapers of fueling anti-Muslim bigotry partly through their coverage of Islamic terror attacks. The solution, it says, is for the U.K. to regulate the press more strictly so that reporters can’t publish such material.
“ECRI regrets that a way has not been found to establish an independent press regulator and that, as a result, certain tabloids continue to publish offensive material,” the report says. “ECRI considers that, in light of the fact that Muslims are increasingly under the spotlight as a result of recent ISIS-related terrorist acts around the world, fuelling prejudice against Muslims shows a reckless disregard, not only for the dignity of the great majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom, but also for their safety.
While Britain hasn’t seen a major Islamic terror attack recently, there have been major strikes in the nearby cities of Paris, Nice, and Brussels, along with smaller attacks in numerous other European cities. But despite the surge of attacks motivated by Islam, the report even suggests that journalists should try to promote alternative narratives for terrorism that ignore Islamic motivations in favor of different motives.
“[ECRI] draws attention to a recent study by Teeside University suggesting that where the media stress the Muslim background of perpetrators of terrorist acts, and devote significant coverage to it, the violent backlash against Muslims is likely to be greater than in cases where the perpetrators’ motivation is downplayed or rejected in favour of alternative explanations,” the report says.
In addition to policing the writing of British newspapers, ECRI also encourages them to provide more robust training to ensure greater compliance with “ethical standards.”
The government of British prime minister Theresa May doesn’t seem interested in meeting ECRI’s recommendations, though.
‘The Government is committed to a free and open press and does not interfere with what the press does and does not publish, as long as the press abides by the law,” the government said, according to The Daily Mail.
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