Friday, 6 August 2010

06/08/10 - Halal Food In Schools

Muslims and the Daily Star, a lovely combination.

So, 'Brit kids forced to eat Halal school dinners' shrieks the Star today. This may lead you to think that 'British' kids at Primary schools are being given halal food whether they like it or not. I am sure that some 'Brit' kids don't mind, as Muslim children born in this country are British whether the Star likes it or not.

Here we go -

FURIOUS parents last night hit out at plans to serve halal-only school dinners.

Pupils will have no option but to eat meat slaughtered following Islamic teachings specifically for Muslims.

The controversial technique involves unstunned animals bleeding to death after having their throats cut.

Ah, the tabloid stable of 'fury/furious'. That may conjure images of people out on the streets, groups being formed in opposition to the plans and being generally vocal about the whole thing, but not in this case as we shall discover later.

I think there is a case for discussing the issue of animal welfare when we talk about Halal but this seems to be the minor issue in the coverage.

But all high schools in the London borough of Harrow have been told to provide only halal meat on menus.

Already two of the borough’s 52 primary schools have chosen halal-only menus. There are fears the other 50 will follow this autumn.

'All high schools in Harrow' have been told to provide only Halal meat. So it is not 'Brit' kids, it is schools in Harrow. It doesn't even say whether the schools will comply, and it doesn't state who has 'told' them to provide Halal meat. Even better is the number of primary schools serving halal only menus - 2 out of 52, around 1%. Oh but there are 'fears' that others might follow.

The following is key -

Angry opponents say it is blatantly pandering to Muslims by trampling over the feelings of other faiths.

This would imply that opponents say it is blatantly pandering to Muslims, and that their objections are based purely on this idea. This is false.

Harrow resident Sheila Murphy said: “I am appalled at Harrow Council’s decision. The Farm Animal Welfare Council has lobbied the government in the past to get the kosher and halal method of slaughter banned.

“The halal method is deemed cruel by some animal-lovers who object to the slow death it involves.

“Harrow Council’s decision is also taking away the choice of children and their parents over what meat they eat and I urge Harrow residents to make their views known to Harrow Council and get this decision overturned.”

This objection is purely on the issue of animal welfare. There is no mention of 'pandering' to Muslims at all.

Masood Khawaja, of the Halal Food Authority, said: “It is commendable for schools to provide halal meats but there must be an alternative for non- Muslims.

“Some people are opposed to halal and kosher meat on animal welfare grounds and they should be given the choice not to eat it.”

Again, an objection based on animal welfare issues. There is still no proof of 'pandering to Muslims.

But Mohammad Rizvi, spokesman for the Pakistan Society of Harrow, defended the plan, saying: “For Muslim children the only option they have is to eat halal, whereas it isn’t a problem for children of other faiths to eat halal.

“This isn’t about Islamification or pandering to Muslims, it’s just common sense.” Animal rights group say halal meat is cruel because animals suffer a slow death.

The defence is explicitly stated as not pandering to Muslims at all, and I think Rizvi's choice of words has influenced the headline and the narrative of the story. If he had used more careful language it would have been very hard for the Star to get any kind of story out of this, even taking into account how wafer thin the story is that they did get out of the mateial.

In summary. For 'Brit' kids at primary school forced to eat Halal meat, read 2 Primary schools in Harrow. For 'furious parents', read 1 complaint from a Harrow resident. And for 'pandering to Muslims', read nothing.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

28/07/10 - Muslims and Clarkson

Today -

Ahh, Muslims and the Daily Star, a recipe for misinformation and confusion. Even better when Clarkson is involved as he is held up by the right as some sort of no-nonsense blokey bloke who only speaks common sense and should be PM off the back of this. Yesterday the Star ran a headline that Clarkson had 'outraged' Muslims with his story on Top Gear of how he saw a woman in a burka trip up, go A over T and reveal she was wearing a red G-string and stockings. As I mentioned, this provoked 'outrage', yielding an astonishing 7 complaints to the BBC out of a viewing audience of some 6 million.

Today the Star says -

HERE’S a sexy lingerie commercial that seems to prove Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was right.

The megamouth TV host caused a rumpus by claiming on the BBC2 show that Muslim women in burkas wear skimpy undies beneath their robes.

This sizzling ad for Liaison Dangereuse features a brunette getting dressed in skimpy bra and knickers with matching stockings, suspenders and high heels.

At the end of the film the model, German TV presenter Miriam Wimmer, 27, puts on a burka. The ad ends with the slogan: “Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere.”

The advert does indeed show this. However, Clarkson did not claim that 'Muslim women in burkas wear skimpy undies', he merely told a little story where he says this happened once. And 'robes' ? Who refers to burkas as 'robes' ? And do we now watch adverts and think, yes this is reality? How does this prove 'Clarkson was right' ?

Clarkson, 50, said on Sunday’s Top Gear he gets distracted by women in burkas when driving because he knows what undies they wear.

He claimed a woman in a burka “fell head over heels” in front of his taxi in London and revealed her “red G-string and stockings”.

Clarkson did not say 'he gets distracted by women in burkas when driving because he knows what undies they wear'. He said what is contained in the second paragraph. How can it be possible to extrapolate the former from the latter? It is a ridiculous leap. In fact as memory serves, Clarkson did not even say 'head over heels', he was cut off by Hammond because he was going to say something a bit ruder. Is it possible that 'heels' implies sexual overtones, and the Star has used that to buttress the story a bit more?

But the commercial, made by agency Glow Berlin, has riled Muslims after becoming a big hit on the internet and at cinemas.

There have been protests outside cinemas across Europe where the ad has featured.

Islamic groups have demanded that a viral version of the ad should be removed from the internet where it has already had millions of viewers.

I am yet to find any evidence of Islamic groups protesting this advert at cinemas. The Star vaguely claims 'across Europe'. A few minutes searching for any proof as given up nothing, and the Star isn't providing any evidence to back up this assertion.

Perhaps the most important point about this whole thing is the advert itself. This was first posted on YouTube on October 19th 2009. Getting on for 12 months ago, yet the Star is painting this as if it is anything like recent. If Clarkson had never said what he did say on Top Gear on Sunday, there is a chance people here would never have heard of this advert for a German lingerie specialist.

It is more proof of tabloids having an agenda, a narrative and then going out of their way to find evidence that supports this view.

Monday, 26 July 2010

26/07/10 - Kerry Katona Has 'Online Mental Breakdown'

Let's start with today's front page, which claims that Kerry Katona has 'cracked up'.

What does the phrase 'cracks up' mean to you? A nervous breakdown? An episode which has ended up with the person seeking professional mental help? Or someone posting jokes on Facebook? If the latter, you may be the Daily Star's target audience.

The story starts -

LOVE-SPLIT babe Kerry Katona has sparked fears for her mental health after going into online meltdown.

She launched into an astonishing cyber-rant as she struggled to deal with the break-up of her latest relationship.

She posted 14 erratic messages on her Facebook page in just 24 hours after the end of her fling with painter and decorator Adam Waldron, 33.

Yep, 14 posts in 24 hours on Facebook is 'cracking up'. But some detail -

The 29-year-old revealed her intense nightmares, started spouting psycho-babble, cracked crude jokes and admitted she is already dreaming of a new man.

And in one astonishing message she appeared to be listening to her breakfast cereal talking to her.

Intense nightmares, psycho babble and listening to breakfast cereal? Sounds slightly unhealthy. Ooh, and she admitted she is dreaming of a new man as well! Yet as we find out -

And as the end of her relationship with white van man Adam sank in she joked: “Think it gonna be one of them days, my rice krispies just said, S**t, F**k & B*****ks.”

Hmm, sounds like a joke that. You know, on the advert where it says the cereal goes snap, crackle and pop? And the mother encourages her little son/daughter to listen to it? Apparently they are all cracking up as well.

The new man though, there has to be proof she is dreaming of a new man!

She tried to laugh off her pain by joking: “Time to get some sleep. Let’s see if I can dream up a hunky guy.”

That's right. She is literally 'dreaming' of a new guy as in, while she is asleep she is hoping to dream of a guy. As far as my understanding goes, you can not have a relationship with someone in your dreams. Not a meaningful one anyway.

Kerry eventually resorted to therapy-style speak to try and snap herself out of her dark mood.

She wrote: “Wake up and greet the day and make a promise to yourself it’s going to be a good day and no one will change it no matter what happens.”

This is not really 'therapy speak'. Anyone who has Facebook will have seen these little pick me up messages. There is really not much to read into this. But the Star has roped in an unnamed source who confirms this all as 'worrying' and that her 'followers were left terrified'. So there we have it. Kerry Katona has cracked up because she posted jokes on Facebook yesterday. This is front page news.

This New Blog

I have decided to start this new blog because of the continuing ridiculousness of the Daily Star's front pages. Whether they are outright lies, inciting hatred towards minorities or just plain wrong I will do my best to expose them here. It beggars belief that the stuff they print on the front page is legal, and I hope you will agree with me in time.