The Spectator’s claim that 32,000 Muslims are ‘eager to commit next terror atrocity’ has been deemed to be ‘significantly inaccurate’ by IPSO
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Tuesday March 13 2018
The Independent Press Standards Organisation, IPSO, has ruled that The Spectator’s claim that ‘there are an estimated 32,000 Muslims eager to commit the next terror atrocity’ was ‘significantly inaccurate’.
The claim was made by Mr James Delingpole in his comment piece titled ‘We can never accept terrorism as the new normal’ published on the 23rd of September 2017.
Mr Miqdaad Versi – the Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain – complained to IPSO that Mr Delingpole’s claim lacked all vigour of factual evidence.
MI5 and the Metropolitan Police have released figures in regards to individuals that pose a threat to national security, indicating that 3,000 individuals pose a credible threat and that another 20,000 who they “continue to be concerned about”.
Mr Versi whilst pointing out the staggering exaggeration of numbers by Mr Delingpole also pointed out that the original figures made no mention to faith and as such there was no basis to suggest that all of the people considered a risk are Muslim.
The Spectator has admitted that the figure 32,000 was incorrect and this has been amended to ‘3,000 suspects who pose an ‘active’ terror threat, and security services reckon another 20,000 pose a ‘residual risk’.
Mr Delingpole’s correction states:
“My main resolution in 2018 is to avoid again upsetting Miqdaad Versi, ever-vigilant assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. Versi quite rightly wishes to draw attention to an egregious error in one of my 2017 Spectator pieces. After a careless misreading, I claimed that ‘there are an estimated 32,000 Muslims eager to commit the next terror atrocity, with another 100,000 prepared to give them moral support’. I would like to apologise unreservedly. The current figure, according to EU counter–terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, is that there are only up to 25,000 Islamist extremists in Britain, 3,000 of whom are worrying to MI5 — 500 of them so worrying that they are under constant and special attention”.
Mr Versi argues that due to the sarcastic nature of the correction it is insufficient in tackling the problem of misrepresenting British Muslims.
Within the article Mr Delingpole also claims that another 100,000 British Muslims sympathised with terrorists and are “prepared to give them moral support” justifying this by extrapolating data from some polls, including the 2016 ICM poll. IPSO in its ruling stated that the poll found 4% of the 1,081 Muslims sampled (i.e. 39 Muslims) were found to “completely sympathise” with “people who take part in suicide bombings”.
Whilst Mr Versi claimed the polling data had been “used erroneously to make assumptions about Muslims’ support for terrorism”, IPSO ruled that there was no accuracy or breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
It is important to note that the poll actually found that only 9 of the 1,081 (1%) Muslims sampled “completely sympathise” with “people who take part in suicide bombings”. Indeed, the 30 other Muslims (3%) were found to “sympathise to some extent”. This should be compared to the control group (non-Muslim) in which 14 people out of 1008 (1%) also sympathised completely or to some extent with “people who take part in suicide bombings”.
74% of the Muslims surveyed completely condemned “people who take part in suicide bombings” and an additional 11% condemned the statement to some extent.
IPSO itself has been embroiled in controversy in the past and especially over the last few weeks when the Home Affairs Select Committee took evidence on Islamophobia in the media on the 20th of February 2018.
Professor Chris Frost, whilst giving evidence to the committee, pointed out that IPSO is often seen to be powerless. The professor stated that since IPSO’s inception, it has received around 18,666 complaints on claims of discrimination, of which only 7 have been upheld as being a breach of IPSO’s Editors’ Code of Practice; an upholding rate of approximately 0.038%.
The time it takes for IPSO to investigate and ask for a correction has also been criticised for taking far too long. Indeed, in regards to the aforementioned article by Mr Delingpole, the article was published on the 23rd of September 2017 and IPSO came to a decision on the 16th of February 2018.
As such, the article in its original inaccurate form has already been read by a multitude of people who will not probably read the article again and notice the correction located right at the end of the page.