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Newspapers are fabricating stories against Muslims because of Islamophobia and could incite real violence, according to Peter Oborne, the Daily Mail columnist and author of The Rise of Political Lying.

Daily MailOborne is speaking at the Stop Islamophobia conference in London's King's Cross ahead of the demonstration at Downing Street in the wake of the attack on the Freedom Flotilla.

He said: "I'm a Tory journalist and not normally expected on a platform like this but I thought it was important to attend and speak out against the last socially acceptable form of bigotry today - it's admissible in today's press to make up lies against muslims, fabricate stories against muslims and effectively incite racism against Muslims.

"It's shocking. It shames us as a society. At various times in history minorities are singled out for attack. Before World War One the minority was the Jews. Libels were spread against them, antisemitism was rife. Then the Irish. No Dogs or Irish it said in British boarding houses. Blacks. Nacked racism."

"Homosexuals were ridiculed. All of that shamed Britain. Today the victims of this .. are very often Muslims. I'm very proud to be British and what Britain stands for but it's very true that I have followed the very opposite trajectory of many Left journalists.

"I supported the Cold War and thought that CND was well intentioned but brought comfort to the Soviet War. But the war on terror has changed something in British society.

"I like to think I stayed exactly where I was, believing in tolerance and decency - that the main thing about Britain was we supported minorities. That's what I think is one of the things that has gone wrong in the last 10 years.

"It became apparent me to fabricate - again and again. One story I investigated was a splash on the Sun newspaper that they were trying to bomb Manchester United football ground. I met them, sat in a hotel room with them. They were innocent and yet we made their lives intolerable."

He ended: "We are betraying ourselves and everything we stand for, for the way we currently treat Muslims."

Mohammed Ali Harrath, from the Islam Channel, added: "According to the British press, I am a terrorist. Today you have the privilege of listening to a terrorist. When I enter the country I get asked astute questions like how long are you going to stay here - I always answer 'forever'.

Campaign of vilification

"I applied to Jacqui Smith for a visa and she replied I was deemed that I was not a person of good manners. Perhaps I don't watch adult films or get paid by the taxpayer..."

He added: "We have to fight back and fight back together. The media - I am a good case study - there is not a single part of the media which has not attacked me .. we have to work together, we have to stand together and we have to fight together."

David Crouch, of Media Workers Against the War and a news editor at the Financial Times, said: "We should be absolutely clear that the media's dreadful reporting of the killing of aid workers this week was because of Islamophobia.

"The attitude was 'these were Muslims so we don't care as much'. The assumption is they were partly to blame for it themselves.

"You can be certain that there are journalists now who have been sent out by senior editors to find out if there is any hint, any whiff, of a connection between the Freedom Flotilla and Hamas. There is a campaign of systematic fraud in terms of reporting Muslims and reporting Islam."

Seumas Milne, Guardian columnist and associate editor, said: "It's clear since 2001 and 2005 in particular there has been a systematic campaign of vilification of Muslims in the media, harassment by the police and security services and use of terror laws to intimidate the Muslim community.

"The media has played a particularly negative and poisonous role. Almost all the media has participated in a racist portrayal of Muslims and Islam. They have hyped up real or imagined terrorist plots which has led to an incitement against Muslims.

Milne said the attack on Muslims in the media had informed the language and ideology of the EDL and led to violence in the streets.

He added: "We have seen a sharp rise in Islamophobia and violence on the streets. Last year there were five attacks on Mosques and Muslim organisations - one were reported in the media or led to visits by politicians."

Bob Pitt of Islamophobia Watch said: "The right wing press has been exploiting Islamophobia to continue it's attack on non-white communities. It has been portraying Muslims not just as a threat to our society but to civilisaiton itself.

Civil liberties

"Is is an attack of a minority non-white com but on the basis of their beliefs and culture rather than ethnicity and this has had a disorientating effect on those who would have traditionally opposed racism. I don't think they are racists - but they have taken a line of witch hunting."

The launch conference for the Stop Islamophobia, which was attended by hundreds of trade unionists, activists and academics, is expected to adopt a "statement on Islamophobia".

The statement read: "The continued justification of the' war on terror' involves treating Muslims as potential 'extremists' or 'terrorists', and these wars as someone representing a clash of civilisations between the west and Islam.

"There have been serious attacks on civil liberties which have hit Muslims particularly hard. The stereotyping and prejudice against Muslims in the media only contributes to Islamophobia."

The conference was cut short to allow people to attend this afternoon's demonstration in response to the killing of more than 10 peace activists as they sailed in an aid convoy to Gaza last week.

Crouch will also be a key speaker at Mutiny's revolutionary debating event The Media on Trial which is taking place at the Resistance Gallery on July 21.

From the-sauce.org

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