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Policing criticism of Islam: IPSO - the new UK Star Chamber?

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posted on Jan, 20 2017 @ 01:59 PM
Just to point out that this thread is not about Islam per se but the actions of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) in the UK. IPSO is the non-state-backed press regulator set up after the Leveson Inquiry.

Late summer last year saw IPSO rulings relating to content published in The Sun and The Mail Online and subsequent news report corrections having used the term 'Islamic Honour Killing' to report on the case of the murder of Saima Khan (Rahmatullah aleh, RIP) in May 2016. Khan's sister was subsequently charged.

Original Mail Online News Article Heading:

Mother of four stabbed to death while her family were at a funeral ‘may have been murdered in Islamic honour killing’
The original news report can be found here although the word 'Islamic' has been removed.

Miqdaad Versi, the assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, acting in a personal capacity, made a complaint to IPSO. The basis of Versi's complaint was that honour killings are rooted in culture, not faith. Both the Sun and Mail Online challenged the complaint but after IPSO's ruling (in favour of Versi) they capitulated by printing what was more a theological declaration than a retraction.

Mail Online footnote:

An earlier version of this article said that police were investigating whether Ms Khan may have been murdered in an ‘Islamic honour killing’. We are happy to make clear that Islam as a religion does not support so-called ‘honour killings

Mail Online forced to correct 'Islamic honour killing' headline after IPSO upholds complaint

I read the following this morning from an article published 2 days ago.

Just take that in for a moment. Versi was effectively able to leverage an independent regulator to force newspapers to print what he deemed to be the true interpretation of his religion. He told the Guardian that ‘it is vital that news outlets do not encourage Islamophobia through the usage of clearly inaccurate and inflammatory headlines’. But neither of these reports were inaccurate, necessarily. Islam is a body of teachings, principles and texts, interpreted differently by Muslims and non-Muslims across the world. Whether or not it ‘supports’ honour killings is not something anyone can say definitively – certainly not a press regulator.

As the National Secular Society has pointed out, there are many Muslims across the world who would disagree with Versi: in many Muslim-majority countries, the belief that women can be murdered in some circumstances is common. Whether or not Versi or IPSO claim to have the direct line to paradise, the question of whether Islam supports honour killings is up for debate, like anything else. And, indeed, the newspapers weren’t even necessarily weighing in on that debate. The Sun argued that it was merely reporting that the honour killing was being investigated as such.

This is backdoor blasphemy law, and it’s positively pre-modern. Just as Henry VIII cracked down on heretical publications – which were spreading reformist religious ideas he would, ironically, later enforce – IPSO was complicit in pressuring these papers to print a quasi-official interpretation of Islam. In some ways, it’s far more insidious. Islam isn’t the state religion. And IPSO isn’t the Star Chamber. The terror of appearing ‘Islamophobic’, of daring to even raise the dark side of Islamic practice, has led an independent institution to force papers to self-censor, to bow to, in this case, one man’s interpretation of a religion.

The author of the article I quoted above believes the 'fluff-ups' to be a product of churnalism rather than some hidden Islamophobic agenda. I am aware the Mail Online can be click-baiting and hate-spreading at times but in this case I agree with the author on this point. It is also unclear if the rulings were based on the Quran ie there are no references to honour killings.

On the one hand we have freedom of the press, on the other, we have a ruling which is possibly based on a press regulator's interpretation of Islam. I need to give this some more thought.

Ipso: Mail Online wrong to use 'Islamic honour killing' in headline

Policing criticism of Islam: the new Star Chamber

edit on 20-1-2017 by Morrad because: Forgot the question mark in the OP title

posted on Jan, 20 2017 @ 03:26 PM
a reply to: Morrad

I wonder how far the whistleblowers get. Or is it just a way to catch them before they can do too much damage?

Any journalist that feels they are being pressured to act in a way that is not in line with the Editors' Code and would like to confidentially register their concerns . . .

Confidentially. Yeah sure.

posted on Jan, 23 2017 @ 03:57 PM
a reply to: Kester

Good point.

I accidentally placed this in the wrong forum (should have been the Social Issues and Civil Unrest).

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