APC dismisses JMA complaint against Daily Mail’s ‘unforgivable’ sin

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Daily Mail Australia published an article online on 21 Augusts 2017 titled: "Burqa-wearing Sydney Islamic preacher claims Muslim women are committing a 'major sin' if they pluck their eyebrows". JMA wrote the newspaper expressing the concern that two statements in the article may have been inaccurate and one image misleading. The use of the word ‘unforgivable’ did not feature in the accompanying audio grab published with the report. The use of the word ‘beards’ also did not feature in the audio grab and may have been an editorialised inclusion. The image included in the report video showed the SUMSA logo when there was no evidence provided in the article that the talk was given at a SUMSA event. The DM failed to respond so JMA referred the complaint on to the Australian Press Council. The APC considered the complaint and decided not to refer it for further consideration on the basis that the words ‘unforgiveable’ and ‘beards,’ although not included in the short audio grab, do occur in the two-hour long lecture. With regard to the SUMSA logo, the APC confirmed that the DM has pixilated the word SUSMA from the image on the video (updated article available here). 

2GB apologises for offence caused by Chris Smith’s airport suspension suggestion

Wednesday, 12 September 2017

On Monday 31 July 2017, 2GB radio host Mr Christ Smith on The Chris Smith Show made the following comments in response to the arrests made over the weekend before in Sydney: “One of the first things I think that needs to be done is to determine who is working within our airport system that could be a threat. Now, I’ll cop a barrage for this, but is it not time we consider suspending all Muslim workers at airports Australia wide? Yes, it is a discriminatory rule. Most of those men and women are doing the right thing: working and providing for their families, but there is only one link to radical Islamic insiders working for IS, and that’s the Islamic religion.” JMA wrote to the radio station arguing that the comments were in breach of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s registered Commercial Radio Industry Code of Practice (15 March 2017). Section 2.1.4. states: “is likely to incite in a reasonable listener, hatred against, or serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, any person or group of persons because of age, ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preferences, religion, transgender status or disability.” Macquarie Media Limited on behalf of 2GB responded stating that it did not believe the comments were in breach of the code but nevertheless apologised for any offence caused by the broadcast. 

Daily Mail changes "crying" to "wailing"

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

On Thursday 22 June 2017, the Daily Mail Australia published a news report online with the headline: "'This is forbidden in Islam': Muslim imam hates people CRYING when someone dies because it displeases Allah." JMA wrote to the newspaper pointing out that in the video accompanying the report, the imam used the word "wailing' rather than "crying." JMA requested that since there was a difference between crying and waling, the error should be corrected. The newspaper eventually agreed to make the change.

“Five-year old girls forced” assertion corrected

Thursday 19 January 2017

On Monday 17 January, The Australian newspaper published a report stating that an Islamic school in Sydney was forcing five-year old girls to wear headscarfs. The report was subsequently also covered by the Daily Mail Online. JMA contacted both media companies to allege that based on the school’s uniform policy available on its website the assertion was inaccurate. The Daily Mail Online immediately agreed to amend the report’s headline and body removing the incorrect assertion regarding five-year-old girls. The Australian eventually amended its online report after JMA referred it to photos on the school’s website clearly showing primary school girls not wearing headscarfs.

ABC changes “Australians, not migrants” headline

Monday 5 December 2016

On Sunday 4 December 2016 the ABC published a news report online with the headline: “Victoria youth crime: Statistics show most offences committed by Australians, not migrants.” JMA wrote to the media organisation arguing that the headline was misleading since it implied that migrants may not be Australian – i.e., that the two were mutually exclusive. JMA added that the Victorian Police data included in the report only indicated whether offenders were either born in Australia or not. The data did not reveal anything about the Australian citizenship status of offenders. The ABC amended the headline.

Daily Mail amends 'hijab-wearing' headline

Sunday, 4 December 2016

In an article published online by the Daily Mail on Friday 2 December 2016, the phrase ‘hijab-wearing supporter' was included in the headline. JMA wrote to the newspaper arguing that the phrase referencing the 'hijab' had no relevance to the story and may only serve to vilify the faith of people who wear the religious headscarf. The newspaper agreed to amend the headline and removed the reference. 

The Australian corrects Quran error

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

In an article published online by The Australian newspaper on Monday 8 August 2016, the word ‘Az-Zumar’ was referred to as the “central religious text of Islam.” JMA wrote to the newspaper to inform it that the word-Az-Zumar in fact referred to a chapter of the Quran and not the Quran itself. The article also contained an error in the spelling of a person’s name referred to in the story. The newspaper corrected both mistakes.

SMH deletes sharia prison article

Monday 16 May 2016

On Friday 13 May 2016 the Sydney Morning Herald published an article about sharia law in prison. The article included the following: “About nine per cent of inmates identify as Muslim (an increase of one per cent in five years) compared to three per cent of the general population.” JMA wrote to inform the journalist that the 2011 census figure was 2.2% and not 3%. The journalist responded with surprise that the one-year old article was in fact published and requested that it be deleted.

‘Radical’ Sharia in Australia

Friday, 4 March 2016

On February 16th 2016, the Daily Telegraph published an article about ‘radical’ Islamic speakers scheduled to attend a conference in Sydney. The next day the Daily Mail ran a similar story. Among a number of critical allegations reported was the alleged call to implement sharia in Australia. JMA wrote to both the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Putting aside the absence of the context in which the alleged comments on sharia by one speaker were originally made, it appears that the journalists may not have been aware that aspects of sharia (Muslim law) are already accommodated within the Australian context, e.g., halal food certification for the lucrative export market. The fear campaign around sharia is disproportionate and sensationalised; and not conducive to enhancing social cohesion. One journalist acknowledged that the organisers and speakers of the upcoming conference should have been afforded the opportunity to comment, while the other newspaper duly noted the relevant insights on sharia provided by JMA.

Daily Mail Australia clarifies Mosque-recruiter link

Thursday 21st January 2016

In a news report titled “How a would-be jihadi was tricked out of travelling to Syria to fight with ISIS by his girlfriend” published online by the Daily Mail Australia on 9th January 2016, the implication may have been conveyed that the “recruiter” referred to was part of the Markaz Imam Ahmad mosque. JMA wrote to the news outlet indicating that the implication was unsubstantiated and may be defamatory of the mosque. The publisher agreed to amend the article and added that the mosque denied it was involved in terrorist recruiting.  

‘Helper’ as associate, not subsevient

Thursday, 26 November 2015

JMA wrote to the Daily Mail Australia about the article “Grand Mufti's latest gaffe sees him refer to women as 'helpers' of men' in his White Ribbon Day statement” (25/11/15). It is obvious from the tenor of the Mufti’s statement that the word 'helpers' as referenced to Prophet Muhammad was not used in the negative sense of subservience, but rather in the sense of advocating for women's rights — synonymous to words such as associate, teammate, supporter and collaborator. The false imputation therefore had the potential of vilifying the Prophet Muhammad and his followers.

Crime Stoppers NSW deletes Facebook post

Friday, 3 September 2015

On 19th August Crime Stoppers NSW posted a “Wanted” notice on its Facebook page for a man in connection with the crime of organised car re-birthing. JMA wrote to the organisation about some of the comments that were posted by readers in response to the notice.  Comments included “Shoot him”; “It so happens the majority of the criminals these days appear to be middle eastern muslims”; “Always shifty Arabs” and “Funny they're always ‘Middle Eastern’...he's probably hiding under his wife's hijab..” JMA indicated that comments like these may be in breach of racial and religious vilification regulations and also incited to violence. Crime Stoppers NSW subsequently agreed to delete the post and is yet to outline to JMA its procedure for reviewing comments and removing ones that are offensive.

AAP headline-body mismatch

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

JMA wrote to AAP about the report “Principals 'not best to spot extremism'.“ The headline quote ‘not best to spot extremism’ could not be found in the body of the report. An unexplained mismatch.

Andrew Bolt corrects Mufti error

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

On Monday 20 April 2015 the Herald Sun published an opinion piece by columnist Andrew Bolt titled “Hidden profits from halal certificates should be exposed and stopped.”  JMA wrote to the columnist about several issues in the article. In it he referred to the Catholic faith as “a controversial dogma.”  JMA enquired as to how the PM might feel about his faith being associated with the phrase as well as the term “sneaky” which was also used. JMA also highlighted that the columnist singled out halal certification for scrutiny but did not state whether the federal government certification proposal should include kosher products or not. Finally, he inaccurately reported that the Grand Mufti of Australia was appointed by Muslims Australia. Mr Bolt agreed to correct the error and subsequently removed all online references including several negative imputations of the current Mufti.

Chris Uhlmann uses anti-Islam bait

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

In an interview with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on 17 December 2014 in the aftermath of the Sydney siege, ABC journalist Chris Uhlmann included the following claims while framing his questions:  “… that significant minorities within them support and sympathise with violent jihadism?"; and, "that this is a religion that is resistant to scrutiny or criticism." He also asserted to the PM: “But you constantly say these acts had nothing to do with Islam? Surely they do.”  JMA wrote to Chris Uhlmann objecting to the claims on the basis that they were firstly unfounded and secondly that the false generalisations may have vilified Australians of Muslim faith. JMA argued that the opposite was the case where there seemed to be a disproportionate and sensationalist preoccupation with scrutinising Islam and Muslims. Mr Uhlmann rejected JMA’s assertions. 

Telegraph amends 'prayer meetings' headline

Monday 29 September 2014

On Monday 22 September, the Daily Telegraph published an online report with the headline “Goulburn Jail cancels Muslim prayer meetings as prisoners go berserk.” JMA wrote to the newspaper outlining that the headline did not accurately reflect the substance of the report. The report quoted an unnamed source suggesting that a good behaviour privilege was withdrawn in response to verbal abuse and that this started the ‘riot’ and not the cancelling of prayer meetings. The newspaper amended the headline removing the reference to prayer meetings being cancelled. JMA then referred the newspaper to NSW Justice’s statement issued later that day which made no reference to prayer meetings and also clarified that there was no religious basis to the ‘disturbance.’

SMH agrees to remove ‘Islamic’ alias

Saturday 30 August 2014

On Monday 18 August 2014 the Sydney Morning Herald published a report about a 19-year-old man who was arrested by police for an alleged ‘religious hate crime.’ Just Media Advocacy wrote to the paper with concerns about: significant omissions including the man’s real name, why the incident was described as a religious hate crime?; and the use of the phrase ‘Islamic alias.’ JMA argued that important, relevant information was omitted from the report and that the use of the phrase ‘Islamic’ alias provoked in the context of the story a negative association that unfairly stigmatised the religion. The paper subsequently included the man’s real name, agreed to remove the word ‘Islamic’ and indicated that it was unable to obtain any further details about the incident from police.

High Muslim unemployment dig

Monday 25 August 2014

In response to a JMA complaint theDaily Telegraphagreed to publish the following letter to the editor in its print edition: In the article “Last drinks in Lakemba: Tim Blair takes a look inside Sydney’s Muslim Land” (Daily Telegraph 18/8/14), the author asserts that “the Islamic community’s high rate of unemployment” leads to inevitable conflict. The reference to the high unemployment rate is taken from a 2011 report by researchers from the University of Newcastle using 2006 census data. What Mr Blair failed to include was the fact that the high unemployment rate was unusual given the Muslim population had a higher educational attainment than the population as a whole (18.5 per cent of Muslims had a bachelor degree or higher compared to only 15.6 per cent for the total population; similarly, 27.5 per cent of Muslim Australians had a year 12 or equivalent qualification compared to 17.8 per cent for the entire population.) Significantly, the research concluded that the unexpectedly high unemployment rate was due to Muslim jobseekers struggling to deal with structural obstacles such as inadequacy of services and discrimination. It is ironic that employment statistics are being misused to further stigmatise this section of the Australian community; a community that has been unfairly stereotyped and marginalised since the ‘Post 9/11 War on Terror.’

Zachariah Matthews,  Executive Director,  Just Media Advocacy Sydney

Yahoo 7 News changes “killed” headline

Saturday 31 May 2014

In a news report published online on 9 May 2014 by Yahoo 7 News the headline read “Saudi woman killed defying driving ban.” JMA wrote to Yahoo 7 to highlight that the headline was inaccurate and misrepresented how the woman died. The headline falsely implied that she may have been killed by authorities for defying the ban when in fact she tragically died in a car crash. The media company agreed to change the headline to “Saudi woman dies in crash.”