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Briefing for IPSO: Reporting on Islam and Muslims in UK press

Summary

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), founded in 1997, is the largest umbrella body in the UK with over 500 affiliates, seeking to represents the common interest of Muslims in Britain. It is pledged to work for the common good of society as a whole.

The MCB’s affiliate base reflects the diversity of Muslims in the UK, being made up of hundreds of mosques, educational and charitable bodies, cultural and relief agencies, women and youth groups and associations across the UK from a range of ethnic, geographical and theological backgrounds and traditions. Over 1000 mosques and Muslim institutions are either affiliates or members of affiliates of the MCB, and a majority of Muslims believe that the MCB does a good job in representing their views.

The MCB is consistently requested by media organisations to comment on issues affecting Muslim communities.

The MCB has produced the most definitive data analysis on British Muslims in its “British Muslims in Numbers” report based on the 2011 census. This landmark academic study has been used by media organisations, academics and policymakers as a base for understanding Muslim communities.

The MCB’s affiliate base reflects the diversity of Muslims in the UK, being made up of hundreds of mosques, educational and charitable bodies, cultural and relief agencies, women and youth groups and associations across the UK from a range of ethnic, geographical and theological backgrounds and traditions. Over 1000 mosques and Muslim institutions are either affiliates or members of affiliates of the MCB, and a majority of Muslims believe that the MCB does a good job in representing their views.

Over the past 18 months, MCB Assistant Secretary General Miqdaad Versi, has been monitoring the media for inaccuracies, misrepresentations and discrimination in the way Muslims and Islam is reported. He has consistently lodged complaints that have led to over 40 corrections. He has also been successful in securing more corrections about Muslims and Islam at the Complaints Committee than anyone else. His work has led to reports in the media accusing national newspapers of publishing a “consistent stream” of inaccurate stories about Islam and Muslims.

Mr Versi has engaged very closely with newspaper managing editors, editors and the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) on the reporting of Islam and Muslims.

Furthermore, in the Home Affairs Select Committee where media reporting about Muslims was discussed, Mr Versi and his work was mentioned over 10 times by politicians, editors and by Sir Alan Moses.

The MCB has now established a media monitoring team which is working to ensure more accurate and responsible reporting on Islam and Muslims aligned with the IPSO goal of the “highest professional standards”.

With an understanding of Muslim communities and media reporting, the MCB is uniquely placed to provide insight and have an input into IPSO’s guidance to the press on reporting on Islam and Muslims.