In late October the Daily Mail ran with this story:
Cafe owner ordered to remove extractor fan because neighbour claimed ‘smell of frying bacon offends Muslims’
A hard-working cafe owner has been ordered to tear down an extractor fan – because the smell of her frying bacon ‘offends’ Muslims. Planning bosses acted against Beverley Akciecek, 49, after being told her next-door neighbour’s Muslim friends had felt ‘physically sick’ due to the ‘foul odour’.
Councillors at Stockport Council in Greater Manchester say the smell from the fan is ‘unacceptable on the grounds of residential amenity’.
You can predict the I’m outraged! These Muslims are taking over! comments. Given that the Telegraph has also become a tabloid rag, it followed up with a re-write of the same story. As did the Metro.
The article was dissected by Tabloid Watch, which pointed out:
But then it becomes clear that the complaints about the smell coming from the cafe’s extractor fan were not from random passing Muslims. Indeed, the planning application details appear to show that there was just one official complaint – and that was from the person who lives next door to the cafe:
Notice he says the smell makes him ‘physically sick’, not his Muslim friends, as the Mail claimed in the second paragraph. And yes, he does mention his ‘Muslim friends’ couldn’t ‘stand the smell’. But using the term ‘Muslim friends’ strongly implies he’s not actually Muslim himself – if he was, it’s likely the Mail would have mentioned it somewhere.
But of course that’s not how the Daily Mail and Telegraph wanted the narrative to be. They wanted it to be about Nasty Muslims Banning Our Way of Life.
Anyway, after the Tabloid Watch blog went up, three people decided to complain to the Press Complaints Commission.
The PCC has now cleared the Mail, on the grounds that, “readers would not be misled as to the circumstances surrounding the refusal for planning permission.”
As Roy Greenslade points out – that is not the impression one gets from reading the comments in the article, which are aimed squarely at Muslims. Not only does the PCC downplay the importance of the misleading headline, but assumes people will actually read between the lines and get what the real story is. They don’t.
But there is one comment on the original DM article worth highlighting:
I am the neighbour who complained! Well done DM for asking for my comments on the matter, but if you had there would be No Story To Print! This vent is affecting my children’s health and that is why the council denied planning!
Yes, I have some Muslim friends who it offended, but nothing was said about my English friends who avoid my house within opening hours of the shop!
Shame on you Daily Mail. You have stirred up lots of racial tension in my area now, so for you its ‘mission accomplished.’
Mission accomplished indeed. It’s worth noting these incidents of mainstream bigotry go largely unremarked in our media culture except one or two small places.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Media,Religion