Since the complaints about their handling of the MET officer case I spoke about in 'Daily Hate', the paper's been pretty muted about the Shabna Mughal case, laid off the halal chicken nonsense and produced some unusual stories. For the Mail.
The other day, we had 'The Halal Haribos for Muslim children', which I expected to be a disapproving rant - not unlike the Express's 'halal chicken' shoutiness. It isn't. It's actually quite positive! It includes phrases about how they've been a 'huge success' and get this - it's only in a quote, but still - get this, it includes the phrase, 'I see the whole thing as a fine example of peaceful multiculturalism,'. Peaceful multiculturalism. Not 'destructive' or 'loony' or 'misguided'. Peaceful. It doesn't even say they taste of shit or anything either.
Even the comments are all positive. The comments on Mail stories are heavily, heavily censored. They only very occasionally let any message that deviates from their own line through - so they must have wanted to show a positive reaction. No badly thought out ranting about Political Correctness Gone Mad or Nu-Labour Nonsense from any ex-pats or anything.
Following that, we've had 'Surge in racism in schools blamed on 7/7 and veil row'. Now, okay, it takes a certain amount of chutzpah for a paper that made a connection between one 'veil row' Muslim and a terrorist on the strength of one unsupported report - and pretended that it had ben reported 'many times' - to report on this without mentioning its own contribution. But to be reporting it at all is surprising. Maybe the paper has realised its own contribution - who can say? We did have another story about how Labour's tough talk on immigration has led to defections to the BNP already, so maybe it's true. Maybe the people at the Mail have thought, 'Shit. Yeah. We do that. Maybe we shouldn't, eh?'
Check out the last paragraph of that article:
The only local authority that saw a fall in racist abuse was Ealing, which has been teaching the life story of US campaigner Rosa Parks and about Commonwealth soldiers in the Second World War.Be serious. Would you ever have imagined any mention in the Mail of the teaching of those subjects as being anything other than totally negative? Ever? The comments to this one are
mostly positive too.
We've also had 'Reid admits foreign policy is radicalising young Muslims to commit acts of terror'. Surely it's crazy clerics radicalising Muslims? Okay - maybe this one isn't quite so indicative of a shift as it is an excuse to bash Tony Blair, but still. Melanie Phillips argues all the bloody time that they're radical because they're anti-semetic monsters.
Today, we've got 'Lighting up early . . . and we're Muslims!' which says:
It's not unusual for people to festoon their homes with Christmas lights at this time of year. But in the case of Roxanne and Sam there is one major difference - they are both Muslim.
"It doesn't make any difference to us that we're not Christian," said Roxanne. "It's the festive season and I love to celebrate it."
Without a rant about calling it 'the festive season'. And yeah, it's a 'good native story' but they could have ranted about halal chicken instead. Today's edition also includes 'Group of praying imams ordered off flight' which uses the term 'Muslim scholars' in place of the paper's more common, negative term 'cleric' to describe the imams. This one includes a link to 'Blue Peter Konnie's sister blasts bid to 'spy on Muslim students'' which says:
Government plans to get universities to spy on Muslim students resemble a "McCarthyite witch-hunt", a woman tipped to become Britain's first Bangladeshi MP warned today.A couple of negative comments get through in these two articles - and the one about foreign policy radicalising Muslims, but they're still critical of anti-Muslim feeling.
Rupa Huq, a university lecturer and sister of Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, said the "silent majority" of moderate Muslims were tired of being associated with terrorism and ministers risked alienating more youngsters with the on-campus campaign.
I don't want to be jumping the gun or anything, but can this be indicating a change in editorial position? There are other stories about Muslims, like 'New iman [sic] sparks 'potentially dangerous' Muslim prison stand-off' that aren't completely positive, but three or four positive stories to one is quite unusual. And the one less than positive one at least mentions a difference of opinion between Muslims.
If it is indicating a change, it could be for a few reasons. It could be an attempt to align itself with possible Labour leaders opposing Gordon Brown - which would explain John Reid being quoted. It could be an attempt to distance itself from the increasingly rabid Daily Express. It could be a reaction to the complaint about its treatment of the sacked MET officer. It could be just an example of the scattergun effect, so that if you mention the paper's treatment of Muslims, it can say, 'but we said something nice about halal Haribos'. But you never know. It could be the result of someone at the paper thinking, 'Shit, yeah. If we say negative stuff all the time, there might be consequences'.
Fingers crossed eh?
*UPDATE* Of course, the Mail never lost its appetite. It just doesn't reach the screaming levels of the Express.