Should Media- (sorry- Media Should) Weed Out Bigots, Racists and ‘Phobes’?


MailOnline changes inaccurate headline about Muslims and honour violence.

On 19 March, MailOnline ran an article under the headline: ‘More Than Two Thirds Of Young British Muslims Believe ‘Honour’ Violence Is Acceptable, Survey Reveals’. The article, by Leon Watson, began with much the same claim: “Most young British Muslims support violence against women who ‘dishonour’ their families, a Panorama investigation will claim today.” In fact, Panorama claimed no such thing. MailOnline was completely wrong. What the poll of attitudes of 500 young Asians living in Britain, conducted by ComRes, actually revealed was that: two-thirds of young Asians (69%) living in Great Britain agree families should live according to the concept of ‘honour’ – or ‘izzat’.

So the two-thirds figure quoted so prominently by MailOnline was not about Muslims only, and absolutely was not about violence being acceptable. The poll did ask respondents if they agreed with the statement: “In certain circumstances, it can be right to physically punish a female member of the family if she brings dishonour to her family or community?”

Contrary to the alarming claim in the MailOnline headline, only 6% of all respondents agreed with this statement. Moreover, the percentage of Christians who agreed with this statement was 8% (albeit based on a small number of respondents), compared with 6% of Asian Muslims. Clive Field, of British Religion in Numbers, notes, however: three times this number (i.e. 18%) in the entire sample selected one or more of five ‘reasonable justifications’ for physical punishment of female members of the family. The figure was highest among Asian Christians (23%), followed by Muslims (20%), Sikhs (14%), and Hindus (13%). It’s not clear why there is this difference between the 6% and 18% figures. The MailOnline article contains no mention of the lower figure nor of the figures for Asian Christians. But they have changed the headline so it now says: “Honour Violence Is Acceptable Say One In Five Young British Asians.”

That came too late, however, to stop their original headline being repeated on countless anti-Islam forums and blogs. The day after MailOnline wrongly claimed “two thirds of young British Muslims believe ‘honour’ violence is acceptable” it won Newspaper Website of the Year at the Press Awards.
(Thanks to “Tabloid Watch” for this post.)

Shouldn’t reporters either report accurately or clearly state that what they have written is their point of view and not write what they think their readers might like to read? I think so.


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