In 1946, Julius Striecher, editor-in-chief of the anti-Semitic tabloid newspaper Der Stürmer, was convicted by International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. According to the Tribunal,
“Striecher’s incitement to murder and extermination at the time when Jews in the East were being killed under the most horrible conditions clearly constitutes persecution on political and racial ground in connection with war crimes… and constitutes a crime against humanity”.
What was crucial was the timing: at a time a minority was being persecuted, Der Stürmer was inciting hatred and murder. Their material accentuated and promoted stereotypes, myths and denigration of Jewish tradition, all aimed at demonising and dehumanising Jews.
The modern, slightly more tempered, right-wing British equivalents are the Daily Mail and the Sun. In April of this year, the Sun was slammed by UN’s human rights chief for publishing the bigoted Katie Hopkins column calling refugees “cockroaches” echoing the language used by Nazis and those behind the Rwandan genocide. The Daily Mail went a step further and published a cartoon depicting refugees, caricaturising Arab/Muslim features and showing them alongside rats.
The Sun, not to be outdone, published the front page headline, “One in five Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis” against an image backdrop of an ISIS fighter. The claim was swiftly reproduced by the Daily Mail (see the text of the URL itself). This of course was unsubstantiated, spun and sensationalised, as has already been demonstrated in various mainstream news reports (see here, here and here). The Guardian noted,
“In fact, an earlier poll by the same company carried out in March for Sky News showed that 4.3% of non-Muslims expressed “a lot of sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria”. Meanwhile, 9.4% expressed “some sympathy”, suggesting that attitudes held by the Muslim and non-Muslim populations are not that different when these questions are asked.”
Controversially, the polling company used by the Sun – Survation – in addition to employing a dubious methodology, discriminatorily targeted the Muslim minority by filtering on “Muslim sounding surnames”.
Of pertinence is the congruence in regurgitating inciting headlines at a time when there has been a rapid growth of anti-Muslim sentiment and violence and the lack of any concern from the government (the NSPCC reported it had received more than 100 calls to ChildLine in the past week from Muslim children fearful of being attacked). In the case of the Daily Mail, it is interesting to note that the rise of attacks is only addressed in the context of the false headline Muslims are sympathetic to “jihadists” – a deliberate attempt to play down the impact of the anti-Muslim violence.
This latest symbiosis of anti-Muslim scaremongering is expected, as is the inactivity and ignorance from the neocon government regarding the rising of tide of anti-Muslim hate. During the phone hacking scandal, it was revealed that Rupert Murdoch had courted David Cameron in attending his private parties. David Cameron in turn visited News Corp execs 26 times in 2011. It was also revealed the Cameron was close with Rebekah Brookes, the former chief executive officer of News International. Things came to a head when Cameron allegedly abandoned her during the scandal, however, it does seem things are on the mend according to Michael Ashcroft’s insight. Cameron’s brother Alex also maintained close ties with Brookes and her husband through the affair.
In September, News Corp confirmed that Rebekah Brooks was brought in as chief executive of News UK. In turn, News UK hired Tony Gallagher, the former deputy editor of the Daily Mail, as the editor-in-chief of the Sun. Gallagher was mentored by Paul Dacre editor-in-chief of the Mail titles.
A tight-knit propaganda-filled and politically incestuous world, then. It is not incidental that this anti-Muslim propaganda comes at a time that when neoconservative domestic (counter-extremism/terrorism proposals) and foreign policy (strikes in Syria) require the necessary contextual mood and political pretext.
Enough is enough. For a government propounding “British values” of equality and human rights, it is hypocritical to see it turn a blind eye to propagandist press inciting hate. In fact the head of state has been actively courted by such press – will Cameron condemn the papers for their irresponsible and inciting headlines? This has gone on long enough. The Muslim minority has been a battering ram for unethical neocon policies for far too long. When such sickening headlines are made they need to be recognised as incitement and rejected in the strongest terms. If the State fails in its duty to protect a minority against dangerous stereotyping which potentially manifests violence, it us up to the people to take action.
Corporate Social Responsibility
It is interesting to note the chief executive of News Corp, announcing Brookes’ appointment stated,
“Her expertise, excellence and leadership will be crucial as we work to extend our relationship with readers and advertisers…”
Advertising is a key revenue stream for print and online media. Last year the Sun made about £112m in display advertising across its Monday to Friday editions. During the hacking scandal, a figure of £210 million a year surfaced. Complaining to the toothless IPSO is evidently not sufficient. Those who are advertising in the Sun must be made aware of their corporate social responsibility. Advertising in a paper which uses discriminatory polls, propagates racist, anti-Muslim tropes can hardly be regarded as socially responsible – would they have placed ads in Der Stürmer? It is time that upright, reasonable people let their views known by politely reminding companies placing ads in such papers that there are consequences for such social irresponsibility.
There is a petition seeking a retraction of the headline here.
I was forwarded a list of major advertisers for the Sun. It was accompanied with the following message:
“As consumers we have to tell these companies we will launch a boycott unless they publicly make a statement condemning the Sun’s fabricated and hate filled message. Please be firm and polite. They cannot justify advertising in a paper that encourages hatred of Muslims based on fabrications.”
For the printed circulation, the prominent advertisers seem to be the following:
According to a 2012 report, the top 10 advertisers were said to be the following:
- BSkyB £17m
Contact us: https://contactus.sky.com/uk
- Tesco £16.7m
- Asda £13.9m
Contact us: https://asda-stores.custhelp.com/app/ask
- William Morrison Supermarkets £9.7m
- O2 £6.7m
Contact us: http://www.o2.co.uk/contactus
- Argos £5.9m
- DFS £5m
Contact us: email@example.com
- Sainsbury’s £5m
- Everything Everywhere £4.6m
- Vodafone £4m
Twitter: @ VodafoneUK
 Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of Major War Criminals, Cmd.6964 (London: HMSO, 1946)