Below is a letter Inspire sent to the editors of the Sun on 24th November 2015 in response to their leading story on 23rd November.
We are writing to express our disappointment with the Sun’s leading story on Mon 23rd November 2015 “1 in 5 Brit Muslims sympathy for Jihadis.”
As you are aware, Inspire have worked with the Sun on two occasions; firstly in supporting the Sun’s United Against IS campaign back in October 2014 and again after the Tunisian Massacre in July 2015 where we helped write the Sun’s Manifesto Against Hate (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/6527089/The-Sun-launches-manifesto-against-hate.html). By speaking out against ISIS, we have put ourselves at great personal risk.
We believe yesterday’s story based on a poll was inaccurate and the poll’s methodology and interpretation of results were misleading, resulting in the unfair stigmatision of Britain’s Muslims, particularly at a time as was reported yesterday when there has been a 300% increase in anti-Muslim attacks in the UK because of the Paris attacks on 13th November 2015.
There is no doubt that the threat of Islamist extremism is real; and that a minority condone and support ISIS. We have all witnessed women, children and families leaving the UK to support ISIS. Our organisation works daily to counter the extremism and toxic ideology peddled by Islamist extremists. However, inaccuate characterisation of the overwhelming majority of British Muslims who are loyal to this country and who abhor ISIS is not the way forward in stamping out extremism. In contrast the editorial of the Sun’s United Against IS campaign (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/sun_says/5978998/The-Sun-Says-Together-we-can-defeat-Islamic-State.html) made clear that “most British Muslims are proud to belong to both a nationality and a religion which value peace, tolerance and the sanctity of life. They consider IS a disgusting perversion of their faith, not its lionhearted champions.”
Unlike yesterday’s headline, the Sun’s excellent Manifesto Against Hate which listed ten pro-active ways to extinguish extremism, was endorsed by many British Muslims across the country, who were proud to support and to be pictured holding up the Manifesto as was reported in the Sun on Saturday 4th July 2015. They recognise that schools, families, faith institutions all have a role to play in the fight against extremism and many are playing their part.
ISIS seek to divide us as a nation, the Sun’s United Against IS campaign aimed to counter that. But yesterday’s headline undermined the Sun’s own attempts of working together as one as Britons, to oppose all those who promote hatred and extremism.
We hope the Sun will recognise that the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject and oppose ISIS and its values, and that rather than working against them, the Sun works with Briton’s Muslims to overcome the threat that faces us all.
Sara Khan, Kalsoom Bashir