This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights for May, 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.
Date of publication: 19 May 2019
Media Outlet: TR.news a website founded by Tommy Robinson which claims it “reports the unreported news to the forgotten people of Britain.”
Author: Shazia Hobbs
Headline: “ISLAMIC ATTACK: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED YESTERDAY IN OLDHAM”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article by TR.news is one of many in the rolling coverage of Tommy Robinson’s (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) campaign to be elected to the European Parliament.. This specific piece is about an altercation in Oldham, a town which Robinson visited during his campaign, where which clashes occurred between Robinson’s supporters and a group which call itself the Muslim Defense League. The Muslims Defense League’s presence was an organized counter demonstration however, tensions rose quickly between the two groups. There were reports of bricks and eggs being thrown, with two police cars damaged but no one injured. The headline refers to the case as an “Islamic attack” and throughout the article, the Muslims Defense League is described as a “Muslim mob” and “Muslim thugs”. The article paints a dramatic picture, painting Robinson and his supporters as a good and peaceful light, and the Muslim Defense League as evil and threatening. The article creates this image by using phrases like “sinister twist” and claiming that “the good old boys in blue then passively allowed the baying Muslim mob to launch bricks and bottles at peaceful members of the public, including women and children.” The author builds on this police conspiracy by stating: “It truly is a sad day when you realize and have the video proof that the police are on the side of Muslim thugs and their useful idiots, not the white working class people of Great Britain and their families.” Finally, the article ends with a clear reference to supposed ‘Muslim rape gangs’, by professing: “Is it any wonder that the children in these towns and cities have been gang-raped with impunity while the police, the politicians and the press ignored it?”
Myth debunked: The aim of this article is clear: the author wants to set a scene where a peaceful and much-loved Tommy Robinson is brutally attacked by a group of angry and violent Muslim thugs. It is an image which complements Robinson’s EU election campaign, which turned out to be woefully unsuccessful, and within the overall editorial stance of the TR.news website. However, it soon becomes clear that this is a very one-sided take to the story. Other articles on the same case talk about a disturbance taking place in which both Robinson’s supporters and the Muslim Defense League acted violently, and that the majority of the perpetrators were from out of town. Of course, there is no excuse for committing violent acts by any party at a political event like this and the perpetrators should be dealt with according to the law. What is worrying is how the author of this TR.news article has framed it in an extremely biased and dangerous manner, leading anyone reading the piece to believe that something truly ominous occurred.
Following on from the event, the Greater Manchester police condemned the “speculation and ill-informed comments on social media” about the clashes. This article is exactly that, ill-informed content that does more harm than good. The way the article alludes to other anti-Muslim ideas, like the ‘Muslim grooming gangs’, helps to paint an extremely hateful image of the Muslim community in Britain. The author makes a clear distinction between the “white working class people of Great Britain” and Muslims, spreading that idea that the two are inherently different and unable to live cohesively.
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