Joint Open Letter Criticises Latest Daily Mail Scapegoating of Foreigners

4 November 2016

Today a cross section of over 50 faith leaders, civil society leaders and leading figures have signed a joint letter to Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail speaking out against the paper’s divisive headline earlier this week which read ‘”Madness: As a Polish lorry driver is jailed for killing a family while on his mobile, we catch 17 foreign truckers using their phones at 50mph. The law MUST be toughened.”

Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, which co-ordinated the open letter, said: “Minority groups need to stand together in solidarity as certain sections of the print media sensationalise news, heightening tensions that were already high since the summer.

The letter states: ‘almost 100,000 people were caught by police last year for using a mobile phone behind the wheel, the vast majority of whom were almost certainly not foreign. By highlighting the unlawful use of mobile phones by foreign truck drivers alone, the Daily Mail propagated the idea that foreign truckers are more likely to engage in this behaviour.’

‘This is an unjustifiable slur with no evidence that incites hatred and ill-feeling towards the “other”, whilst doing little to advance the Daily Mail’s goal of toughening law enforcement, or supporting the families of those killed in this incident. In a climate where hate crime against minority communities is on the rise, many have already publicly commented on how they believe such a front page article to be wholly irresponsible.

There is no doubt in our minds that reporting the news is a force for good, as it uncovers the truth and informs our society. We only hope that the Daily Mail is able to reflect on whether its coverage of minority groups in our society does indeed uphold the highest professional standards of responsible journalism, or rather fuels divisions with real-life consequences.’

The full letter below with signatories is as below:

 

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Dear Sir,

We write with great concern following the Daily Mail’s front page on 2nd November. Texting while driving has been one of the biggest causes of car related deaths in the U.K. and it is important that in the case described in the Daily Mail’s report, justice was served for the victims of this appalling tragedy caused by the dangerous driving of the driver.

Yet almost 100,000 people were caught by police last year for using a mobile phone behind the wheel, the vast majority of whom were almost certainly not foreign. By highlighting the unlawful use of mobile phones by foreign truck drivers alone, the Daily Mail propagated the idea that foreign truckers are more likely to engage in this behaviour.

This is an unjustifiable slur with no evidence that incites hatred and ill-feeling towards the “other”, whilst doing little to advance the Daily Mail’s goal of toughening law enforcement, or supporting the families of those killed in this incident. In a climate where hate crime against minority communities is on the rise, many have already publicly commented on how they believe such a front page article to be wholly irresponsible.

There is no doubt in our minds that reporting the news is a force for good, as it uncovers the truth and informs our society. We only hope that the Daily Mail is able to reflect on whether its coverage of minority groups in our society does indeed uphold the highest professional standards of responsible journalism, or rather fuels divisions with real-life consequences.

Yours,

 

Harun Khan, Secretary General, The Muslim Council of Britain

Bishop David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, Church of England

Richard Baker, Head of Campaigns, Christian Aid

Rabbi Danny Rich, Liberal Judaism

Rabbi Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi, Reform Judaism

Sir Peter Fahy, Former Chief Constable, Greater Manchester Police

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, Greater Manchester Police

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers

Malia Bouattia, President , National Union of Students

Don Flynn, Director, Migrant Rights’ Network

Stephen Hale, Chief Executive, Refugee Action

Sarah Crowther, Director, Refugees in Effective & Active Partnership

Josie O’Driscoll, Chair, Gypsy & Traveller Empowerment

Sherrie Smith, Project Co-ordinator, Report Racism Gypsy Roma Traveller

Joanna Mludzinska, Chair, Polish Social and Cultural Association

Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts

Tracey Lazard, CEO, Inclusion London

Chris Whitwell, Director, Friends, Families and Travellers

Jennie Kermode, Chair, Trans Media Watch

Ragih Muflihi, Chief Executive Officer, Yemeni Communities Coordinating Committee

Mostafa Rajaai, International Students Officer, National Union of Students

Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary, Unite

Robert Monks, General Secretary, United Road Transport Union

Samayya Afzal, Students not Suspects

Simon Woolley, Director, Operation Black Vote

Alicja Kaczmarek, Director, Polish Expats Association

Neil Jameson CBE, Executive Director, Citizens UK

Nick Lowles, Chief Executive, Hope Not Hate

Yasmin Qureshi MP, Labour

Lord Paddick, Liberal Democrats

Joanna Cherry QC, MP, Scottish National Party

Baroness Hussein-Ece

Laurence Hillel, Co-Director, London Interfaith Network

Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director, René Cassin

Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director, The Jewish Council for Racial Equality

Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Office of British Imams and Scholars

Shaykh Arif Abdulhusein, Al-Mahdi Institute

Iain Stewart, General Secretary, Edinburgh Interfaith Association

Richard Wilson, Stop Funding Hate

Nik Noone , Chief Executive, Galop

Robert Behrens, Visiting Professor, UCL Institute of Education

Paul Bowen QC, Brick Court Chambers

Hugh Tomlinson QC, Matrix Law Chambers

Dr Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust

Dr Salman al-Azami, Liverpool Hope University

Dr Judith Townend, University of Sussex

Dr Kasia Narkowicz, University of York

Professor Francis Davis, University of Birmingham

Saleem Kidwai, Muslim Council of Wales

Dr Javed Gill, Convenor, Muslim Council of Scotland

Hayyan Bhabha, Secretary, APPG on Islamophobia

Weyman Bennett & Sabby Dhalu, Co-Convenors, Stand up to Racism

Robin Richardson, Instead Consultancy