Sunday, 01 December 2019 14:48

UK – Far-Right Site Spreads Anti-Muslim Tropes Surrounding UK General Elections

UK populist and far-right website TR.news published an article claiming that there is a ‘Muslim vote’ campaign which is threatening British democracy. This is UK’s media monitoring highlight for November.

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

MMH Nov UKDate of publication: 13 November 2019

Media outlet: TR.News, a website founded by Tommy Robinson which claims it “reports the unreported news to the forgotten about people of Britain.”

Link: https://bit.ly/2LfUOGH 

Headline: “Islamists Democratic Jihad - Operation Muslim Vote 2019”

Description of the anti-Muslim and xenophobic content: This article, which appeared on the TR.News website, talks about a supposed “Operation Muslim Vote.” In the piece, the author states that there is a campaign in the UK which “aims to get the Muslim demographic energised and mobilised to make sure the Muslim ‘block vote’ does maximum damage to the Conservative Government who are supposedly ‘deeply Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic’.” It goes further, claiming that “the Islamist demographic in this country is waging jihad on democracy, ironically, by using democracy against itself.” Finally, the author concludes: “The people of Britain MUST stand up to this Islamist threat, the focus and use of the highly effective Muslim demographic will end up subverting our democracy and freedoms.” There was also an article on far-right news site Politicalite on the same topic, titled: “HOLY VOTE: Mosques Urge Voting As Muslims Predicted To SWING 31 Seats Across Britain.” While less alarmist language was used in the piece, the author constructed a clear negative narrative around the fact that Mosques around the country are urging Muslims to vote. This article had a reach of over 2700. 

Myth debunked: The general election in the UK is scheduled for 12 December 2019. On this day, all registered British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens over the age of 18 can vote for the UK parliament. The right to vote extends to those of all cultural backgrounds and religions who fit the qualifying factors, thus of course also Muslims. British Muslims have the right to vote for their UK parliament, and vote for who they feel represents their interests best. This goes for all voters: Christian voters, Jewish voters, atheist voters and so on. Yet, the article which appeared on the TR.News website seems to suggest that the ‘Muslim vote’ is something sinister, unlike all the other votes in the UK. The author constructs a narrative of a highly organised and evil group of people who are looking to change British democracy to serve only the Muslim population, going as far as to say the Britain is ‘suiciding’ by letting Muslims vote in the upcoming elections. Not only is this a blatant disregard for the right to vote, but it is painting a very alarmist image of British Muslims, who are a diverse group and not one whole.

There are also some classic far-right tropes used in this article, namely that of the Islamisation of Europe. The author states that there is an “ever-growing and influential Muslim demographic” in the country, terminology which we often see used by populist groups when ‘warning’ of the threats of Muslims in Europe. Moreover, there is clear othering at play in this piece, with statements such as: “The people of Britain MUST stand up to this Islamist threat.” Do British Muslims not qualify as people of Britain? This is a dangerous precedent to set. While this article is not surprising coming from TR.News, it is very troubling to see this narrative being used across different platforms. It is clear that there is an underlying political motivation to this article, and it joins the countless other British media outlets taking a clear political side. However, it is unacceptable for political messaging to hatefully target certain groups and, in this case, take a clear anti-Muslim stance. 

More to read:

General Election 2019: Muslim voters on issues that matter to them

I've been researching Islamophobia for years – don’t let anyone tell you there isn’t an epidemic within the Tory party

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