I was invited to a conference to launch the Alternative Leveson Inquiry into Islamophobia in the media on the 9th of January 2012.
An “alternative Leveson inquiry” is being set up by an Islamic TV channel in order to investigate the way in which British media report on Muslim and Islamic affairs.
The Islam Channel is planning to appoint a judge with an independent panel of assessors – just like Leveson – to carry out the inquiry.
Its springboard was a public opinion poll which found that people believe the media are responsible for “whipping up a climate of fear of Islam in the UK.” The poll, by ComRes, was published in July, the month in which the Leveson inquiry was instituted. According to its findings, people are twice as likely to say the media is to blame for Islamophobia (29%) than far-right groups (13%), or Muslims themselves, whether abroad (14%) or in the UK (11%).
The Alternative Leveson will examine the possible causal effect between media coverage and social attitudes towards Muslims. It will also assess any links between media coverage and subsequent government policy. It will ask editors and journalists to give evidence along with people who believe they have been victims of prejudiced media coverage.
One reporter who might well be asked to appear is Richard Peppiatt who told the Leveson inquiry that his former paper, the Daily Star, published anti-Muslim propaganda.
An initial meeting to discuss the establishment of a panel will be held on Monday afternoon at the Islam channel’s headquarters in the City of London .
The channel, launched in 2004 is broadcast in English by satellite (channel 813) and broadcasts across Europe, the Middle East and north Africa. It is owned by Mohamed Ali Harrath, a refugee from Tunisia who, following the Arab spring, returned to his country for a visit in February after 21 years in exile.