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Islington leaders tell Finsbury Park Mosque meeting: National media should be held accountable over Islamophobia

PUBLISHED: 10:29 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:33 17 October 2017

Islington Council leader Richard Watts, left, and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, right, said there 'needs to be discussion about the media's system of reporting'. Picture: Polly Hancock

Islington Council leader Richard Watts, left, and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, right, said there 'needs to be discussion about the media's system of reporting'. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Islington community leaders – from Jeremy Corbyn to Rev Jennifer Potter – last night called out the media for helping spread hate crime.

Questions from the floor at the anti-hate crime meeting at Finsbury Park Mosque. Picture: Polly HancockQuestions from the floor at the anti-hate crime meeting at Finsbury Park Mosque. Picture: Polly Hancock

A meeting was called at Finsbury Park Mosque for Muslim women to discuss their experiences of hate crime.

Sisters spoke about being insulted daily for the way they dress. One claimed a white van man had sped at her while she was crossing the road.

Another pointed to passive aggression: people moving to another seat when she sat next to them on a train. One woman said today’s climate of Islamophobia is the same as the treatment of black people in the 1970s, when the National Front would sell its newspaper at The Angel.

And in questions from the floor, a recurring theme emerged, calling for media accountability over spreading “hateful messages”.

Islington North MP and Labour leader Mr Corbyn agreed, saying: “It would be perfectly reasonable that as part of our hate crime campaign, there needs to be discussion of the system of reporting.”

Islington Council leader Richard Watts was quick to point out: “I give a free pass to our local media, the Islington Gazette and Islington Tribune, which do an outstanding job in promoting mixed communities. But we have to expect the national media to behave responsibly.”

Rev Potter, chair of Islington Faiths Forum, added: “We have to move to challenging these people. The media here this evening are by and large the media who don’t need to hear the message. The media who don’t come to meetings like this are the ones who propagate bad relations. We need them to listen to what we’re saying.”

Cllr Andy Hull, centre, pleaded with people to report hate crimes to the police. Picture: Polly HancockCllr Andy Hull, centre, pleaded with people to report hate crimes to the police. Picture: Polly Hancock

Meanwhile, the panel again stressed the importance of reporting hate crimes to the police. Cllr Andy Hull, Islington’s community safety leader, said there had been 12 reported in the six weeks following the Finsbury Park terror attack in June.

“Yet if we talk to Muslim women in this community,” he said, “it’s something they are experiencing every day. We want these culprits caught. The people being spat at and abused in the street – if it’s not reported, it’s not going to get sorted.”

Islington Council has a website offering support and guidance for people who have suffered hate crime. For more information, visit islington.gov.uk/hatecrime

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