SHAFAQNA – That’s the message the Sun newspaper and Trevor Kavanagh have put across. The repercussion of such a message is fear and ignorance ultimately manifesting in hate towards my community and the communities that I work with.
The press and the media have a huge responsibility as a source of information for millions of people, to put out stories in which they are accountable for. If you write a story that scapegoats and boxes a community into a specific negative category you harbour people’s fear and insecurities, you are held accountable to the violence and hate that comes after.
As a young Muslim and a community organiser, I worry for my community and those that I represent. My dad, who wears a cap and has a full-length beard, has to travel to work everyday on public transport; my sisters, who adopt the hijab, take the train to college and university and I have to think about whether they’re ok and safe everyday.
The Islamic institutions I work with face the full brunt of hate too. Just two months ago we had a horrific incident occur at Muslim Welfare House in Islington, a member of North London Citizens. Because of the hate and ignorance exacerbated by the press, a man decided that it was ok to run over Muslims congregating after taraweeh prayers leading to the death of one man and severe injuries of others.
It’s not just the Muslim community that feel the impact of ignorant and ill-mannered articles written irresponsibly by the Sun and other papers. We have concerned parents of primary school children from eastern European backgrounds whom recall stories of how their kids are told by other kids to ‘go home’ and ‘go back to where you came from’. We have one of our campaign leaders of Stand Up, Stand Out, Arjun, whom is a young Sikh man being harassed and racially abused on public transport. Arjun recalls stories of how he was called ‘Talban’ on the train by other passengers for wearing a Turban.
The issue of hate reaches far and wide, and the papers do a good job at catalysing it.
Despite the hate we receive our communities are doing an amazing job at showing solidarity and demanding a more accountable press. Immediately after the attack at Muslim Welfare House, our Citizens UK members across London came together every night during the last week of Ramadan delivering dates and protecting those entering the mosque to break their fast. These members were Churches, Synagogues, schools and other local mosques.
Stand Up, Stand Out is a campaign group led by young people from migrant backgrounds. We are working to ensure that the press are held accountable for what they write.
The campaign started because our founder, Keren had heard that some of her family members were on one of the boats that Katie Hopkins wrote the infamous ‘rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants’ article about. Keren’s family members died that day. Since then SUSO, all of who have tales similar to Keren and Arjun have been working to get big advertisers like Body Shop and Vodafone stop paying money out to papers like the Sun.
With the help of our friends Stop Funding Hate we managed to convince Body Shop to stop advertising with the Daily Mail through our action and campaigning.
Stop Funding Hate are today launching their phone campaign encouraging phone companies to stop advertising with such papers. As a Muslim and loyal EE customer I find it very disappointing to see them advertising next to an article that calls my community a ‘problem.’
Stand Up, Stand Out and Stop Funding Hate encourage customers of phone companies such as EE, Three and Vodafone to stop advertising next to such hateful articles. We as all communities and backgrounds need to stand together against hate just like those that showed solidarity to Muslim Welfare House.
Stand Up, Stand Out, Spread Love, Stop Hate.