Media Watch 1 October 2011
In his testimony to Sheldon immigration court in Birmingham, I listened to Sheikh Raed Salah making the point that the Israeli press is not credible. He said that he came to this conclusion after long years of bad experiences with it. Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post mis-quoted him, inserting the word “Jewish” into his attacks on Israeli occupation in an attempt to smear him as an anti-Semite.
I might make a similar point about the British press. Their coverage of Salah, a Palestinian activist famous in the Arab world, has often been deluded, even potentially libelous. And so it continues after Salah’s High Court victory yesterday.
The Daily Express is a trashy tabloid owned by pornographer Richard Desmond, the butt of many jokes for its continuing coverage of Princess Diana even 14 years after her death. More perniciously, like other British tabloids, it specializes in dishonest rabble-rousing against migrants and refugees. In recent years this venom has often been targetted at Muslims. Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of the best-selling dailies in the country, with a circulation of over 600,000 in July.
Predictably, the Express is livid after Salah’s High Court victory. Today, the paper attacks Salah, bemoaning the idea of him being “set to pocket thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money after a scandalous immigration farce”. (Salah’s legal team told me that the case was a matter of principle and not about compensation money. Salah is most concerned with clearing his name.)
Racist British tabloids are not exactly known for principles and consistency, but the Express is so confused here that they even manage to contradict themselves within the same article. Towards the start of the article it states:
But towards the end it quotes anti-Palestinian blogger (and Henry Jackson society think-tanker) Michael Weiss thusly:
A judge yesterday ruled that Home Secretary Theresa May was right to bar Islamic extremist Sheikh Raed Salah from the UK.
It’s a scandal that he’s to be awarded money. The ruling says nothing about the merits of Salah’s ban…Clearly these statements cannot both be true, but Express hacks David Pilditch and Martyn Brown don’t seem too bothered about little things like logic, facts and documented evidence. The facts are that Mr Justice Nicol’s ruling (available online here) in paragraph 2 says this (my emphasis):
When it was realised that he [Salah] was in the UK, a further decision was taken [by Secretary of State Theresa May] that he should be deported, again on the grounds that his presence in the UK was not conducive to the public good. The Claimant vigorously objects to the Secretary of State’s conclusion that his presence is inimical to the public good. He has exercised his right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) [in Birmingham] and it will be for the Tribunal to resolve that dispute. The present proceedings do not involve that issue.
So in other words, Michael Weiss was right about something related to Raed Salah for once. Astonishing!
Thanks to Ben White for sending me the link to the Daily Express article.