Sunday, 30 September 2018 11:40

UK – Islamophobic Scout leader given a free rein in daily newspaper

After a Scout master was fired for his Islamophobic remarks, the Daily Mail gave him a platform to share his hateful views, and painted him in a positive light. This is the UK's media monitoring highlight for September 2018.

This article part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of August, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

Screen Shot 2018 09 28 at 13.01.20Date of publication: 9 September 2018

Media Outlet:  Daily Mail, conservative British tabloid

Author: Sarah Oliver and Jonathan Petre


Headline: "Can you give Scouts canoe lessons while wearing a full Islamic veil? Absolutely not, says Brian, who devoted a lifetime to the Scouts but was kicked out after saying a Muslim Scout leader looked like Darth Vader"

Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article is an interview with Brian Walker, a Scout master who was permanently excluded after comparing fellow Scout leader Zainab Kothdiwala to Darth Vader, because she was wearing a niqab. In the article, Brian is painted in a favourable light by the Daily Mail journalists saying that Walker “dared to suggest”  she might endanger children by wearing a niqab and that it was “an outburst which may be considered incendiary in our politically correct times”. The authors downplay the comments and seem to suggest that the measures taken following the remarks were over-the-top and unnecessary. The article also republished Walker’s original hateful remarks, including comments such as: “how sad and disappointed I am that the whole Scout mission is to push a politically correct agenda of multi-faith brain washing, anything that denigrates Christianity.” Lastly, the authors show bias towards Walker by outlining his life achievements, including building an orphanage in Uganda and serving in the Special Air Service without giving an equal voice to Zainab Kothdiwala. 

Myth debunked: The main issue here is the editorial methods used in the article. The original incident happened several months ago and at the time, Walker received a lot of criticism and was expelled from the Scouts. The authors of this Daily Mail article seem to be of the opinion that Walker was wrongly punished, and that his Islamophobic remarks were only brought to light because we live in a politically-correct world. The authors are also guilty of giving the spotlight to an individual who is guilty of hate speech; they give Walker space to explain and defend himself without giving another party a chance to properly respond. This, in combination with elaborately outlining Walker’s life achievements, guides the reader to conclude that Walker was wrongly fired for hate speech and that in fact; he is just an upstanding Scout leader with concern for children’s safety. It is an extremely unprofessional way to cover this incident. Moreover, at a time where the Muslim veil is a sensitive topic due to Boris Johnson’s recent comments, journalists should be particularly careful about how they construct such stories.  

More to read:

Everyone now has a view on the burqa – British Muslim women are enduring public humiliation

Scout master fired for ‘Darth Vader’ veil jibe

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