The Times headline ‘Muslim Sex Grooming’ is poor and opportunistic journalism

Times articleOn 4 March 2015 the Times newspaper published on its front page the following headline:

‘Call for National Debate on Muslim Sex Grooming’

Such a headline did more than merely raise a few eyebrows given the Times newspaper’s status both nationally and internationally. The article elaborated on a ‘landmark’ report in Oxfordshire concerning the appalling use and selling of teenage girls for sex. It described how ‘failings by police and care professionals led to more than 370 young girls in Oxfordshire falling victim to “conveyor-belt” sex crimes over the past 15 years’.

However the Times itself hindered any possibility for such a debate with the ‘Muslim’ community by failing to identify that the problem is neither religious nor even ethnic. The article did not highlight the failure of the church to protect young boys from their local priests, or child patients and their visitors from famous DJs and television personalities or children within parliament as part of the wider problem of grooming. The article also failed to apply the same standard of headlining to these cases in the past, refusing (and rightly so) to publish a front page headline of ‘call for national debate on Christian grooming’ or ‘call for national debate on English grooming’. Such headlines would have been inflammatory and quite simply unfair.

The author may well point to a number of high profile cases of convicted gangs of Asian origin to highlight the ‘Muslim’ nature of the crimes. However, ‘Asian’ is an ethnicity and not a religion. Furthermore, it is poor journalism to emphasise that there is even an ethnic angle to these crimes as ‘the most detailed research on the phenomenon so far found that, in 43 per cent of cases, the abusers were white’.

In the past few years, sex crimes, notably paedophilia, have become serious matters in which senior figures including Members of Parliament, ministers, and peers in the House of Lords have been accused of involvement, as well as established celebrities including the late Jimmy Saville. Other celebrities including Rolf Harris have already been convicted after a string of abuses on girls as young as the age of seven.

According to figures released by the government:

  • Since 2010 the number of offences relating to indecent images of children and reaching a first hearing in the magistrates courts has consistently been more than 20,000 offences a year (around 15,000 in 2006).
  • It is estimated that there may be over 22,500 such offences reaching a first hearing in the magistrates courts in 2014 based on current data – the highest level ever.
  • The biggest increase in volume can be seen for distribution of an indecent image which has seen figures almost double from 736 in 2010 to 1,235 in 2014 (full year figure projected from Jan-Oct 2014 data).
  • More than 1,000 alleged paedophiles have been arrested in Britain in the past 12 months, more than five times the 2012-13 figure of 192.

Source: Government Press Release

It is clear that paedophilia and grooming are national problems. The evidence proves that this is not limited to certain religious or ethnic groups. It is therefore unclear why the Times has chosen this particular headline in light of the overwhelming evidence proving that this is not a ‘Muslim’ issue at all but a British issue for everyone to debate. The only logical conclusion that can be arrived to is that such a headline demonstrates poor and opportunistic journalism from an internationally reputable newspaper.