Friday, April 18 2014

Action Alert

Urge your MP to ‘seal’ the Royal Charter

Dear Activist,

As salaamu alaykum.

We are writing to request your urgent help with our campaign, together with Hacked Off, on press reform.

We wrote to you a  while back asking you to contact the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, and your local MP, urging them to reject the rival Royal Charter submitted by newspaper groups the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph.

We are writing today because we have not yet completed the journey in the progress of the Royal Charter to the Privy Council.

We need your help because the Leveson Charter has still not reached its final stage – ‘sealing’ at a meeting of the Privy Council. And because the big newspaper groups threaten legal action, the government is slowing down progress towards sealing.

Believe it or not, the barrier seems to be the meeting schedule of the Privy Council, which rubber-stamps government decisions. It doesn’t usually meet between July and October, meaning that the next chance for ‘sealing’ the cross party Royal Charter could be months away.

On 9 September Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and others go on trial on charges relating to the kinds of activities that made the Leveson Inquiry necessary. We want to send a message to our politicians that it is unacceptable that this trial might take place before even the first step has been taken on the path to carrying out Leveson’s recommendations on press reform.

Please help us by writing to your MP today.

It will take you a matter of seconds. Click here and follow the instructions to send a letter to your MP - http://act.hackinginquiry.org/lobby/18

Wassalam,

ENGAGE Team

Reject the PressBoF Charter on press regulation`

Dear Activist,

As-salaamu alaykum,

We are writing to request your urgent assistance concerning a consultation opened by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt. Hon. Maria Miller, on the press industry’s rival royal charter, known as the PressBoF Charter.

The press industry, led by newspaper groups Associated Newspapers, Express Newspapers, Trinity Mirror, News international and Telegraph Media Group, have devised a rival Charter which falls far short of the recommendations envisaged by Lord Justice Leveson.

Recommendations such as the independence of the regulator, third party complaints, free access to arbitration for complainants, and the power to ‘direct’ apologies – meaning front page inaccuracies receive front page apologies – are just some of the failings of the PressBoF Charter.

What you can do:

1. Send an automated letter to the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, via Hacked Off, on this link - http://act.hackinginquiry.org/lobby/16

2. Copy and paste the contents of the same template letter and send to your local MP requesting that s/he raise the matter with the Culture Secretary. You can write to your MP via this link - http://www.writetothem.com/

It will take you only a couple of minutes!

May Allah (SWT) reward you for playing your part on this vital issue.

Wassalam

ENGAGE Team

Parliament vote on the Royal Charter Monday 18th March 2013

We are at a critical moment in the history of Press Regulation as Parliament will, this Monday, 18th March, debate proposals advanced by the Conservatives for a Royal Charter introducing a new system of press regulation.  The proposals contained in the Royal Charter do not address what we consider to be key recommendations by Lord Justice Leveson to tackle media reporting on Muslims and other minorities – Recommendations 11 and 39.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

It is vital that you undertake the following 2 simple steps to ensure that we get a Regulator that has the powers necessary to prevent the sort of discriminatory and prejudicial reporting on Islam and Muslims we have seen too often in the past:

STEP 1 – Click here to locate and email your MP.

STEP 2 - Copy and paste the attached template letter into the email and follow the steps and then ‘send’

Please also try to visit your MP at their surgery this weekend and raise these concerns in person.

You can also call your MP at his Westminster office on Monday morning and tell him/her that you disagree with the Royal Charter proposals and want him/her to vote against them in Monday’s vote. The switchboard number for the House of Commons is 020 7219 3000.

 

SAMPLE LETTER:

I am writing to raise my concerns over the Royal Charter proposals and what I see as concessions too far in favour of the industry.

1. I do not believe that the Royal Charter satisfies the condition that the Recognition Body is independent of Government

2. I do not believe that the Royal Charter satisfies the condition that the Recognition Body is independent of Industry

3. I do not believe that the Royal Charter faithfully delivers the Leveson recommendations for it includes a caveat permitting the exclusion of Recommendations 34-47.

This includes Recommendation 39, which calls for the Regulator to “intervene in cases of allegedly discriminatory reporting, and in so doing reflect the spirit of equalities legislation”. This is a vital inclusion by Lord Justice Leveson and designed to address the misrepresentation of minority groups in the UK and its social consequences.

4. I do not believe the Royal Charter satisfies the condition that the arbitral process should be “free for complainants to use” – the Charter proposal refers to the process as “inexpensive for complainants to use” – this is in violation of Recommendation 22.

5. I believe the Royal Charter concedes to the Industry, in neglect of Lord Leveson’s recommendation, on ‘third party complaints’.

Recommendation 11, proposed by Lord Justice Leveson, clearly states that complaints from “a representative group affected by the alleged breach, or a third party seeking to ensure accuracy of published information” should be heard by the Board of the Regulator.

The Royal Charter, however, dilutes this to address complaints only “from a third party seeking to ensure accuracy of published information”. This is a provision the current Editors’ Code of Practice caters for and one Lord Justice Leveson deemed insufficiently broad in scope to address the inadequacies of media reporting which, due to the limitations of the Code, does not permit third party complaints of a wider nature.

In response to our oral and written evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, and evidence presented by other ‘affected groups’, Lord Justice Leveson concluded that there exists:

“a significant tendency within the press which leads to the publication of  prejudicial or pejorative references to race, religion, gender, sexual  orientation or physical or mental illness or disability.”

Lord Justice Leveson stated that this could be remedied “the first steps being to amend practice and the Code to permit third party complaints”.

Recommendation 11 – introducing a ‘third party complaints clause’ – addresses this negative tendency in the press but it is not incorporated in the Royal Charter proposals.

This is wholly unsatisfactory and of great alarm to us.

The Leveson Inquiry and its report acknowledged the role of the press in perpetuating anti-Muslim bigotry; the harm caused by such careless and reckless reporting and the need for a new, independent regulatory body to address these challenges in earnest.

I an writing to urge you to reject the Royal Charter proposal and to urge the Government to adopt a position that is thorough and faithful in its regard to Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations for press reform and regulation.

Yours sincerely,

Last Updated on Friday, 15 March 2013 18:40

Press regulation petition- Hacked Off

We wrote to you last week regarding the Leveson recommendations, asking that you contact your MP and ask them to support the full implementation of the recommendations.

On our part, we are working with one of the leading campaign groups in this area Hacked Off, who are fully supportive of our position. Inshallah together and with your help we can ensure the press report responsibly on all vulnerable groups, including Muslims.

It is vital that we maintain the pressure, as such you may be aware of the petition that Hacked Off are running, so far it has over 145,000 signatures – it is important that we get more people to sign it. If you haven’t already done so, please take 2 minutes and click here (http://hackinginquiry.org/petition) to sign it. Please also pass this on to others.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 December 2012 15:09

Leveson report and tackling anti-Muslim reporting

It's been over a week since the publication of Lord Justice Leveson’s report on press reform and we are still waiting for the Government to fulfil its commitment to take the recommendations forward on a cross-party basis.  Labour and the Liberal Democrats have fully supported Lord Leveson's recommendations but the Prime Minister says he has “serious misgivings and concerns” on introducing a statutory underpinning to press regulation.  

The Prime Minister has asked the press industry to address Lord Leveson’s recommendations but the proposals put forward by the editors of all major newspapers are inadequate and dismiss key areas of concern to the Muslim community. Namely, a ‘third party’ complaints clause and giving an independent regulator the ability to intervene in cases of allegedly discriminatory reporting.

Please take these 3 simple steps to urge the Prime Minister to fulfil his promise to fully implement Lord Leveson’s recommendations:

1.  Log on to Write to Them to send an email direct to your MP
2.  Enter your postcode and select your MP
3.  Copy and paste the sample text below into the email box that appears

Done!

We are at a critical moment in history whereby we can finally ensure the press report responsibly on all vulnerable groups, including Muslims.  Please therefore take the time to do this and please forward this email to as many people as possible.  May Allah (SWT) reward you for your efforts.

-------

SAMPLE TEXT TO MP

[Insert MPs name]

Before Lord Justice Leveson’s report into press behaviour was published, the leaders of all three main political parties said publicly and privately to victims of press abuse that his recommendations should be taken forward on a cross party basis. They also said that they would implement them as long as they were proportionate and workable - in fact, in the words of the Prime Minister, as long as they were "not bonkers".

Lord Justice Leveson has recommended self-regulation of the press, with its effectiveness and independence (from industry and politicians) guaranteed by law.  This has been supported by Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. David Cameron does not agree. He announced that he would not support Leveson’s recommendation to give self-regulation any legally-backed guarantee, meaning it will lack the independence and ‘teeth’ that are the hallmark of the current failed system of self-regulation.

In his report, Lord Leveson cites various submissions and witness testimony, including from ENGAGE, on the media’s portrayal of Muslims and other minority groups. He concluded, “[W]hen assessed as a whole, the evidence of discriminatory, sensational or unbalanced reporting in relation to ethnic minorities, immigrants and/or asylum seekers, is concerning. The press can have significant influence over community relations and the way in which parts of society perceive other parts. While newspapers are entitled to express strong views on minority issues, immigration and asylum, it is important that stories on those issues are accurate, and are not calculated to exacerbate community divisions or increase resentment. Although the majority of the press appear to discharge this responsibility with care, there are enough examples of careless or reckless reporting to conclude that discriminatory, sensational or unbalanced reporting in relation to ethnic minorities, immigrants and/or asylum seekers is a feature of journalistic practice in parts of the press, rather than an aberration.

“Overall, the evidence in relation to the representation of women and minorities suggests that there has been a significant tendency within the press which leads to the publication of prejudicial or pejorative references to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or physical or mental illness or disability. Whether these publications have also amounted to breaches of the Editors’ Code in every case is debatable, but in the ultimate analysis is little to the point. That failure has, in the main, been limited to a section of the press and may well stem from an undue focus on seeking to reflect the views (even if unsuccessfully) of a particular readership. A new regulator will need to address these issues as a matter of priority, the first steps being to amend practice and the Code to permit third party complaints.” (my emphasis).

As a British Muslim, I am deeply concerned by the sheer volume of media reporting on Islam and Muslims that is inaccurate, discriminatory and unbalanced. I believe Lord Leveson’s recommendations are vital to advancing good and ethical journalism.

I note that in the proposals drafted by editors of the major newspapers this week, there are several recommendations which appear in Lord Leveson’s report which have been sidelined. Notable among them, and which are of particular concern to me, are recommendations 13 and 29, on the inclusion of a ‘third party’ complaints clause and intervention by the regulator “in cases of allegedly discriminatory reporting and in so doing reflect the spirit of equalities legislation,” respectively.

As your constituent I urge you to write to the Prime Minister asking him to back Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations, in full and without compromise, as he said he would.

Yours sincerely,

[your name]

Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

We would like to draw your attention to some recent developments on Palestine-Israel, and in the Occupied Territories, and to urge you to carry out a quick and simple task:

On 24th July , EU Foreign Ministers unanimously agreed to an upgrade in EU trade relations with Israel. Despite regular and frequent condemnation by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague and Baroness Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the UK along with all other European states, put aside Israel’s persistent violation of international law on settlement building, and supported the move to enhance trade relations. You can find our letter to William Hague here.

This week, Israel approved plans to change the status of the Ariel University Centre of Samaria in Nablus (in the Occupied Territories) to a full-fledged university. The impact of this decision undermines the very basis of the two –state solution by consolidating Israel’s presence and control of land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The Foreign Secretary’s statement on the decision by Israel can be read here.

What you can do:

Write to your MP and ask that s/he raise these questions with the Foreign Secretary. You can email your MP on this link, just copy and paste these questions in the box provided and press ‘send’.

Dear [insert MP name]

In response to the EU's upgrading of trade relations with Israel, as a local constituent, I am hoping you will write to the Foreign Secretary with the following questions;

1.  It is estimated that the EU represents 60% of Israel’s external trade, would it not be consistent with the UK’s support for the two-state solution and its condemnation of illegal settlement building that the upgrade on trade relations should have been conditional on Israel ending its settlement activity and actively working to transfer the Occupied Territories to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people?

2.  Why is it that the UK will condemn in the strongest words Israel’s violation of international law and human rights but take little concrete action to put a stop to her aggressive behaviour?

3.  What likelihood is there of the ‘two-state solution’ ever materialising when British and European governments refuse to act, using their economic leverage, to end Israel’s illegal settlement building and the consolidation of her occupation of the Palestinian Territories through moves such as the university status approval decision?

4.  What, if anything at all, is the Government doing to support the two state solution before it is too late? Recent developments inspire no confidence at all that the Government is genuine in its support for two states, Palestine and Israel.

Action Alert - Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel

As of this week the General Synod of the Church of England will meet and will, during the course of its sitting, vote on a very important private members’ motion proposed by Dr John Dinnen, Synod member for Hereford. The motion concerns Church volunteers who are sent to vulnerable communities in Palestine, where their task is to protect and show solidarity with Palestinians and Israelis working for peace in the Middle East.

These volunteers are known as "ecumenical accompaniers" (EAs) and 100 such EAs from different countries are sent to Palestine under the 'Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel’ (EAPPI).  When they return home, EAs campaign for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by advocating for an end to occupation, respect for international law and the implementation of UN resolutions.  Historically, the EAs have witnessed first-hand the dire situation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories which are under Israeli occupation. The Israeli settlements in these regions are recognised by the British Government as illegal under international law.

Not surprisingly, the EAPPI has come under criticism from the Board of Deputies of British Jews who are seeking to mobilize opposition to the motion.

More details on the EAPPI can be  read here.

What can you do?

The EAPPI has given countless EAs exposure to life under Israeli occupation and the daily indignities suffered by Palestinians. It is therefore vital that the work of the EAPPI and its Volunteers continues.  You can do the following (with the attached template letter) to play your part;

1. Please write to your local Bishop and urge him to support the motion proposed by Dr Dinnen explaining that for peace and justice to prevail in the Middle East, the obstacles to the peace process presented by the Israeli occupation must be challenged – the EAPPI and EA’s are absolutely vital to this objective.  Letter template can be found here.  Contact details for your local Bishop and Diocese can be found here.

2. Please write to the Archbishop of Canterbury, urging him to recognize the significance of the EAPPI and of the EAs. The letter template attached can also be used for this. Address your letters to: The Most Rev and Rt Hon The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 10:37

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