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Misleading Muslim Mail headlines, with Daily Mail Reporter

July 13, 2011

Generic Daily Mail Reporter has struck again, this time with a headline that reads:

In case you were in any doubt, the first line of that article goes like this:

A breast-feeding mother has been ordered out of council offices after staff said it would ’cause an uproar’ among Muslim visitors, it has been claimed.

That seems very clear.  Let’s have a look through the article and see if we can find the bit where Muslims have either complained, or are credited with being likely to complain.

‘She said “Oh no, we don’t allow that in here. We’ve had that many complaints that we don’t allow it.”

No, not there.

According to Ms Mitchell a manager then said ‘You absolutely can’t do that here’

Not there either.  Hmm, I’m finding it difficult to pin down the offended Muslims here.  Let’s see what one of the local councillors had to say.

Labour Councillor Shoab Akhtar said Oldham Council supports the right of mothers to breastfeed their children and actively supports it due to the long-term health benefits it provides.

But he added: ‘Unfortunately there are no breast-feeding facilities available at Access Oldham based at the Civic Centre nor are there any public toilets or baby changing facilities.

‘There is no requirement to provide such facilities at Access Oldham and we are committed to make the best use of the limited space that is available to provide facilities and meeting rooms where we can deal with issues that affect local residents quickly and effectively.

‘Not every building is suitable for breast-feeding and that is the case with the very busy, open-plan layout of Access Oldham.’

Ok, so still no mention of these mythical offended Muslims.  The only hint I can get of this claim is in some of the things the lady who complained said, but even she didn’t specifically say anything about Muslims.  Ms Mitchell said;

‘If someone from another culture started praying in the waiting room, I wouldn’t say, “Excuse me, you’re offending me” I would respect it because it’s their culture.

And;

‘It’s political correctness gone mad when they’re worried about offending people of other cultures over something so natural.’

Whatever the arguments about this lady being able to breastfeed in the Civic Centre, why is the headline screaming about offended Muslims?  The only mention of Muslims has come from generic Daily Mail Reporter, nobody else.  The original story, written by Helen Korn of the Oldham Chronicle, also makes no mention of Muslims, nor is Ms Mitchell credited with any quotes about political correctness gone mad, or people praying in waiting rooms.  You can see it here: Breast is best, but not in here!

I’m wondering if generic Daily Mail Reporter might be guilty of a little embellishment to make this story more attractive to groups such as the EDL and BNP, but surely that wouldn’t be wise, what with the spotlight shining firmly on the nation’s press right now.  Giving the anonymous reporter the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Ms Mitchell was contacted for a quote after the local news had been trawled for promising leads, resulting in some glaring inconsistencies between the original story and the one published by the Mail.  Whatever the circumstances, the headline on the Mail article is dishonest and misleading, with nothing to back it up at all.  I know this is what we’ve come to expect from the Mail, but I’d hoped that the focus on press practices, and the mistrust with which readers regard papers now, may lead to more honest headlines at the very least.  Sadly not, it seems.

*I would like to make it clear that I support the right of women to breastfeed their children in public places.*

***UPDATE***

It has been brought to my attention that the Metro also ran this story with the headline, Breastfeeding mother ‘told to leave centre to prevent offending Muslims’.  The sub-heading for this one is, “A mother who wanted to breastfeed her baby in a civic centre claims she was ordered to leave because doing so might offend Muslims.”

This time, Ms Mitchell is quoted as saying;

‘A member of the complaints department said, “You’ve caused an uproar in there.’ She must have been talking about the Asian people who were in a room.

The bold is my emphasis.  Notice there is still no mention of Muslims, just an assumption made by the complainant with no solid evidence to support it.  The Metro have been as dishonest and misleading as the Daily Mail.

With thanks to Adam Clarke, Clare Hayward and Brett Smithers for the Metro tip.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Souperman permalink
    July 14, 2011 11:18 am

    Well, this is spectacularly bad isn’t it? Usually they only deliberately exaggerate the Muslim factor. Making it up from nothing is pathetic and needs to be addressed. Surely this is grounds for a formal complaint?

    • July 14, 2011 9:39 pm

      In my view, this is exactly the sort of nonsense the PCC should tackle, but unfortunately that particular press regulator considers anything that is generalising about a whole group of people to be outside their code and, therefore, immune from censure.

      However, I will take this up with the PCC, if only to collect further evidence that they aren’t fit for purpose.

      • Souperman permalink
        July 21, 2011 3:33 pm

        You go for it.

  2. Lukeablancas permalink
    July 14, 2011 3:09 pm

    Reader comments are currently unavailable… Interesting though, a 7 GREEN arrow comment at the time the istoy link was produced said:

    “Is the article different then the exaggerated headline because i didn’t read anything in there where anyone said anything about ‘ MUSLIMS being offended’. Typical dm headline.

    – Karen, Stoke, 13/7/2011 12:24”

    Admittedly the other green comments aren’t quite the same (‘we’re loosing Britain!’, ‘oh, so muliticulturalism only works one way then?!’ etc), but still.

    • July 14, 2011 9:41 pm

      I saw that comment, and was delighted by the number of green arrows it had collected. It’s always a pleasure to see something like that in the normally toxic comment section of the Mail. 🙂

  3. July 16, 2011 7:53 pm

    The Metro has the same story: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/869230-breastfeeding-mother-told-to-leave-centre-to-prevent-offending-muslims

    No mention of Muslims there either, although there is some conjecture regarding “Asian People”

  4. MissTJD permalink
    July 17, 2011 4:28 pm

    Isn’t the right to breastfeed in public protected in law anyway? Even if there were Muslim complaints, the article only tells half the story if it fails to mention the legal position.

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