Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Yellow Journalism

From The Times:
ALMOST a third of British Muslim students believe killing in the name of Islam can be justified, according to a poll. (1)
This is based on a survey carried out by an organisation called the Centre for Social Cohesion (2). It examined the attitudes of Muslim students in British Universities, and one of the findings [PDF] it uncovered was that:

Respondents were asked if it is ever justifiable to kill in the name of religion. Just under a third of Muslim students polled (32%) said killing in the name of religion was justified – the vast majority of these (28% of all respondents) said killing could be justified if the religion was under attack and 4% of respondents supported killing in order to promote and preserve that religion. (3)

The Times makes no effort -NONE AT ALL - to break down the figure of 32%. It does not point out that of that of that 32%, the overwhelming majority specified that killing was only acceptable in tha face of aggression.

As for the 4% who said killing was acceptable to "promote and preserve" Islam, bundling promoting and preserving may have confused some ome respondents. The times makes no comment on this, either.

As said, the report itself is published by the Centre for Social Cohesion. This is turn was set up by Civitas (4), a rightwing think tank. THe SFSC, inspite of its name, seem to exist for one purpose only - to publish reports portraying Islam and Muslims negatively. Scanning their list of publications, there is NOT ONE that deals with any other social group. Its other reports are titled are:
  • Virtual Caliphate: Islamic extremists and their websites
  • Crimes of the Community: Honour-based violence in the UK
  • Hate on the State: How British libraries encourage Islamic extremism (5)
The trend is pretty obvious. Nothing about gypsies and travelling communities, blacks, the unemployed, the career criminals, immigrants in general, or the BNP's constituency. Like the trend, the purpose is pretty obvious.

I've had a look at the report itself, and I'll go into it in another post.
1 - "A third of Muslim students back killings," by Abul Taher in The Times, 27th of July, 2008. (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4407115.ece)
2 - The website of The Centre for Social Cohesion: http://www.socialcohesion.co.uk/
3 - "Islam On Campus," by John THorne and Hannah Stewart, published by The Centre for Social Cohesion, 2008. (http://www.socialcohesion.co.uk/pdf/IslamonCampus.pdf)
4 - The website of Civitas: http://www.civitas.org.uk/
5 - A list of publications by The Centre of SOcial Cohesion, as displayed on their website aon 29th of July, 2008. (http://www.socialcohesion.co.uk/pubs/publications.php)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having lived in Malaysia since young, I am not at all surprised with the results obtained. The slightest hint that their religion might not be the absolute unquestionable truth could get you into the most severe trouble. And don't even mention about apostates from Islam --- it is equal to "treason" to them and they are only "protecting themselves" by making you hurt (I kid you not).

As an infidel living in Muslim land I urge you... save us from the menace that is Islam. Help critical thought and science flourish.

lurgee said...

Actually, the results of the survey were far less clear cut than your experience would suggest, and also less than The Times story or the Executive Summary of the report. The attitudes of Muslims at British Universities were very mixed, which I'll go into in another post.

Please bear in mind that this is not a survey of all Muslims, or even all British Muslims - it is Muslims attending university in Britain, which - students being students - is probably markedly different, particularly at the extreme, than mainstream British Islam.

As said, I will investigate the report in more detail.

bystander said...

Efforts are needed to focus on two facts that merit urgent action to address the bigger issues haunting the youth in Britain namely dejection and violence.

Britain's youth is increasingly affected by violent crime, depression, stress and drugs, a recent survey showed. The poll of 1,000 16 to 24-year-olds shows they feel they are facing more personal and social problems than they were a year ago.

Almost two thirds said they feel the media misrepresents the issues facing young people.

The study also revealed young people are generally dissatisfied with life. Almost half (41%) said they are unhappy - girls more so than boys; 28% said they "wish they were someone else";
63% think young people are more depressed now than ever before and 29% think young people in the UK have a tougher time than those in other countries.

Key results of the study, conducted by Media Research in June, revealed 20% of males under 24 have been threatened with a knife or weapon and 47% of all participants said this has happened to someone they know; 11% have been asked to join a gang; 15% felt pressured into carrying a weapon and 27% know at least one person their age who carries a weapon; more than 50% feel the UK is less safe than a year ago and 78% do not feel safe walking the streets.

A majority of youngsters also said they feel they have to deal with these worries alone. Almost a quarter, 24%, said they felt they could never talk to their parents about their concerns, 8% have sought help in chat rooms and only 6% have sought professional help.

Almost two thirds said they feel the media misrepresents the issues facing young people.

Why social interest champions such as Centre for Social Cohesion fail to analyze the bigger picture and recommend appropriate solutions instead of spending energies on what a disoriented lot boasts about to amateur surveyors? Their recent study "Islam in Campus" could have considerably benefitted from the analysis of Cardiff University psychologist Gregory R. Maio who encourages us all to examine motives behind value-expressive attitudes. He is joined by scholars like Mark M. Bernard, Jochen E. Gebauer who consider it is necessary to analyse what is being expressed and distinguish between Whether cultural estrangement arises from discrepancies between personal and societal values (e.g., freedom) rather than from discrepancies in attitudes toward political (e.g., censorship) or mundane (e.g., pizza) objects. The relations between different types of value discrepancies, estrangement, subjective well-being, and need for uniqueness needs to be examined.

Commentators from Centre for Social Cohesion need to come clear on the fact if trend of violence cited in their reports is specific to a tiny religious faction or a wider, nation-wide phenomenon?

To establish the fact it is helpful to look at country-wide for recent years.

According to the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the number of illegal firearms in the UK ranges from 200,000 to 4m. Offences involving firearms rose by 40% between 2000 and 2002.

What emerges most clearly from the research is that the problem is social as well as criminal, and that it defies easy answers.

Referring to violent black youth, Hugh Muir, writes in The Guardian: They are young men living in the shadow of the gun: deriving all their power, reassurance, self worth and respect from the very act of carrying illegal firearms. Recent research suggests that the proliferation of illegal weapons in some of Britain's most deprived communities - particularly replica and converted ones - is now such that there is a gun or an imitation firearm easily available for almost everyone who wants one. They are being routinely carried for criminal purposes, but also as fashion accessories and a "necessity" by marginalised young men who have come to view this ownership as a rite of passage.

This trend has led scholars such as University of Portsmouth's Gavin Hales, who led a study on a criminology trends in the UK, observe that guns can provide an intoxicating and almost pornographic attraction to young men who often feel powerless. Other academics in the field like Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, say the high rate of gun crime in black communities was more to do with the fact the victims tended to live in inner city areas with a lack of social and economic opportunity.

The number of young people prosecuted for firearms offences has risen by more than 20 per cent in the past five years - and children as young as eight have been found carrying weapons, cites a report by Richard Edwards, The Telegraph's Crime Correspondent. Edwards notes that six teenagers were shot dead in London in 2007 and more than 50 children arrested for serious gun crimes in some of the capital's worst-affected boroughs. In 2001, 1,193 youngsters under 21 went to magistrates courts on gun-related charges. By 2005, that had risen to 1,444.

Jon Murphy, the head of the gun crime task force at the Home Office, said the youths involved in gun crime are volatile and unable to see the consequences of their actions - which will "inevitably" lead to a tragedy. Speaking at the first European Serious Organised Crime Conference, hosted in Liverpool, said: "Fifteen years ago a feud may have been settled with a fist fight, 10 years ago with a knife fight, but now it will be guns."

The number of young people prosecuted in Britain for firearms offences has risen by more than 20 per cent in the past five years - and children as young as eight have been found carrying weapons, cites a report by Richard Edwards, The Telegraph's Crime Correspondent.

Edwards notes that six teenagers were shot dead in London in 2007 and more than 50 children arrested for serious gun crimes in some of the capital's worst-affected boroughs. In 2001, 1,193 youngsters under 21 went to magistrates courts on gun-related charges. By 2005, that had risen to 1,444.

Jon Murphy, the head of the gun crime task force at the Home Office, said the youths involved in gun crime are volatile and unable to see the consequences of their actions - which will "inevitably" lead to a tragedy. Speaking at the first European Serious Organised Crime Conference, hosted in Liverpool, said: "Fifteen years ago a feud may have been settled with a fist fight, 10 years ago with a knife fight, but now it will be guns."

Is the media and the government paying more attention to those who are with loud shrill but shallow suggestions? Respectable writers warn against policy making that all too often appears to be operating in an evidence-free zone. Striking research conclusions are ignored or distorted. Expertise appears not to be valued.' Professor Reece Walters of the Open University is critical of the government for not listening to critical voices. He says: `civil servants in the Home Office do not want to `learn' from academics - in their minds, there is little that academics can teach them....We live in a society where government manipulates or cherry-picks criminological knowledge and produces distorted pictures of the `crime problem''.

Recalling some of his first hand observations, Professor Rod Morgan, former chair of the Youth Justice Board and former Chief Inspector of Probation says he was `incensed... by the incomprehension and arrogance regarding the research process which some administrators displayed'. Professor Morgan notes that `Despite the mantra about pursuing evidence-based policy, some of the politically highest-profile policy areas, such as anti-social behaviour, involved initiatives where there was little or no evidence base and no serious attempt to collect data, even to the point of not honouring government obligations to monitor ethnic impact.'

It remains to be seen when social interest champions such as Centre for Social Cohesion will offer some positive contribution to British youth, so that we all hear what solutions they could offer to these pressing challenges?