News organizations are claiming a major spike in anti-Islamic attacks in the wake of Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder, but investigations offer few details. Here’s a headline from The Guardian:
The article claims that ten mosques have been attacked, but only offers one story in which two men were arrested for firebombing a mosque. Interestingly, The Guardian pads a large portion of the story with an incident in which three Muslim prisoners attacked two guards at Full Sutton prison. It also spends a good deal of space discussing a protest in London by the English Defence League and a counter-protest by United Against Fascism where thirteen people were arrested, but makes no mention of which protestors were arrested.
Here’s the headline from Raw Story:
The actual story is about a YouGov poll showing a rise discomfort toward Muslims. There is no mention of violence against Muslims aside from a handful of arrests of people for making nasty comments on social media.
Both articles claim that reports of anti-Islamic attacks are on the rise, but these are reports made to a hotline, not police reports. I’m not saying that these things aren’t happening, but these are sensationalistic headlines that offer little in the way of substantial evidence.
These outlets appear to be doing one of two things here. The first thing, which I hinted at, is sensationalism. There isn’t much of a story, but the headlines will grab readers for a couple of paragraphs. The second thing, related to the first, is an attempt at moral equivalence. Non-Muslims can’t complain when a pair of Islamist losers run over, stab and behead a British soldier, because look, some people made some rude posts on Facebook. Either way, these articles do a disservice to future Muslims who might be attacked because of their religion.
If there was a documented wave of hate crime across the United Kingdom, where Muslims were being violently attacked on a routine basis by non-Muslims on the basis of faith, it would be a story. I would write about it. For now, though, I’m just not seeing it.