The Sun faces investigation over 'Muslim Problem' article after Jewish and Islamic groups liken it to Nazi propaganda

'It harks back to the use of the phrase ‘The Jewish Problem’ to which the Nazis responded with ‘The Final Solution’,' says complaint to press regulator

Maya Oppenheim
Tuesday 15 August 2017 12:17 BST
Trevor Kavanagh, who became political editor of The Sun in 1983, sits on the board of Ipso
Trevor Kavanagh, who became political editor of The Sun in 1983, sits on the board of Ipso (PA)

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Jewish and Muslim organisations in Britain have issued a joint complaint to the press regulator over an Islamophobic article they likened to Nazi propaganda.

The groups argue The Sun column’s reference to the “Muslim Problem” resembles the Nazi references to the “The Jewish Problem” and sets a troubling precedent.

Written by the former political editor of the tabloid, the article features a tirade about Muslim communities and claims Britain is consumed by a “Muslim Problem”.

Trevor Kavanagh argues Islam constitutes the “one unspoken fear” which unites Britain and wider Europe but claims the phenomenon has been suppressed by political correctness. He says the problem began after former Prime Minister Tony Blair allowed what he describes as “mass migration”.

The article, which caused anger among social media users, prompted the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Tell Mama and Faith Matters to complain directly to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso).

The organisations argue the phrase “Muslim Problem” shares direct parallels with “The Jewish Problem” – an expression used in Hitler's Nazi Germany which led to the mass murder of six million Jews.

“The printing of the phrase ‘The Muslim Problem’ – particularly with the capitalisation and italics for emphasis – in a national newspaper sets a dangerous precedent,” states the complaint.

“And harks back to the use of the phrase ‘The Jewish Problem’ in the last century, to which the Nazis responded with ‘The Final Solution’ – the Holocaust.”

A representative for Ipso told The Independent they had received a total of 150 complaints about the piece.

“As you’ll appreciate, Ipso does not comment on any complaints while they are being assessed,” they said.

“However, I can confirm that we have had a total of 150 complaints about the piece to which you refer, mostly under Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.”

A spokesperson for the Board of Deputies said: “We were horrified to read this in The Sun today, and we feel that it warrants swift condemnation by Ipso, and a prompt retraction and an apology by The Sun. We will not tolerate indiscriminate attacks in the media on any faith community.”

A representative for Tell Mama and Faith Matters said: “We stand united with the Jewish community in our condemnation of this outrageous article. Newspapers must take responsibility for peddling hate.”

The Sun’s article has been branded “disgusting” on Twitter, with critics urging people to issue formal complaints to the paper.

“This country doesn't have a 'Muslim problem', it has a Murdoch problem. Today's piece by Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun has to be the end of it,” said one user, Maria Crawford.

"Trevor Kavanagh is trying to be the new Katie Hopkins. His language is incendiary & his views are vile. Poison," said another, Russ Jackson.

Mr Kavanagh, who became political editor of The Sun in 1983, sits on the Board of Ipso.

Miqdaad Versis, the Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Author of this disgusting piece in The Sun about 'the Muslim problem#, Trevor Kavanagh, is a Board member of the press regulator Ipso”.

Ipso sparked anger when it announced Mr Kavanagh would be joining its board at the end of 2015. He played a critical role in the tabloid’s infamous accusations that Liverpool fans had urinated on rescuers and pick-pocketed dead victims during the 1989 disaster.

At the time, Professor John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, who helped treat victims at Hillsborough, said: “It beggars belief that Ipso believe this helps their credibility.”

Dr Evan Harris, co-director of the pressure group for media reform Hacked Off said: “It is hard to believe that any rational regulator would see fit to appoint someone directly involved in one of the most crass examples of press abuse in history.”

A representative for The Sun did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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