Monday, 31 December 2018 11:54

UK – Sputnik reporting draws undue attention to perpetrator’s religion

In an article on a femicide trial in England, the Russian media outlet Sputnik chose to lead the story with the religion of the perpetrator, even though the faith has nothing to do with the crime committed. This is the UK’s media monitoring highlight for December.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of December, 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.

sputnik muslim husbandDate of publication: 17 December 2018

Media Outlet: Sputnik, media outlet established by a Russian government-owned news agency

Link: https://goo.gl/HwksZe

Headline: “UK Muslim 'Husband' Admits Hunting Down, Murdering Syrian-Born Woman and Mother”

Description of the anti-Muslim content: This piece reports the facts around the murder of a woman and her mother at the hands of the woman’s ex-partner. While the article is generally neutral and unbiased in its reporting, the headline highlights the religion of the perpetrators, presenting it as if it is relevant to the explanation of the crime. More professional media outlets reported the same story but did not mention the murderer’s religion. The police statement, whose tweet was also embedded in the article, does not state the man’s faith either.

Myth debunked: By choosing to lead a story with the religion of the perpetrator, even though the faith has nothing to do with the crime committed, the author misleads the readers into thinking that religion was relevant. Article after article, this also leads readers to draw erroneous conclusions and make sweeping generalisations about people of the same religion. This is particularly dangerous considering that, most of the time, the religion is only mentioned when the perpetrator is Muslim and ignored for other religions.  This repeatedly happens in media coverage of domestic abuses, terrorism, and child grooming. Domestic violence is not specific to Islam and can be found across different cultures and countries. Attributing it to one religion leads to negative stereotypes that can marginalise Muslim minorities.

More to read:

Gender, culture and class collude in violence against women

The news media offer slanted coverage of Muslim countries’ treatment of women

In crime reporting, we should ask better questions about the relevance of religion and ethnicity

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