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The London Blasts


The London Blasts: Pressurising The Media

Project 1: The Extremism Report



1) Today's Project

2) Letters Pages contact details

3) The Importance Of Pressure (a new success story - 15 July)


1) Today's Project: The 'Young Muslims and Extremism' Report


On Sunday, the Sunday Times carried an important front-page story on a leaked British Government study 'Young Muslims and Extremism' (see our Media Review for more details). The key element of this story (buried in the middle of the article) was the finding that it is British foreign policy that has been responsible for the growth of 'extremism' - the willingness of young Muslims to participate in anti-Western terrorism:


'The Iraq war is identified by the dossier as a key cause of young Britons turning to terrorism. The analysis says: “It seems that a particularly strong cause of disillusionment among Muslims, including young Muslims, is a perceived ‘double standard’ in the foreign policy of western governments, in particular Britain and the US.'

' “The perception is that passive ‘oppression’, as demonstrated in British foreign policy, eg non-action on Kashmir and Chechnya, has given way to ‘active oppression’. The war on terror, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, are all seen by a section of British Muslims as having been acts against Islam.” '


These are the British Government's own conclusions in a secret report to the Prime Minister. (More conclusions from the report here.)


This conclusion was not highlighted in the Sunday Times story, and is not being picked up by the mass media.


It is up to us to put pressure on the Sunday Times, the other newspapers, and the broadcast media, to report this critical finding.


Please use any opportunity you have to bring this crucial fact to the attention of the local and national and international and web-based media.


Opportunity #1 The ideal hook is a reference to the report itself, as in the Guardian today, which carries only this sentence on the report: 'A joint Home Office and Foreign Office report, Young Muslims and Extremism, said Britain might now be harbouring thousands of al-Qaida sympathisers.' A wonderful opportunity to bring the key finding to the attention of Guardian readers. (See the list of email addresses below.)


Opportunity #2 The second-best hook is any reference to there being, or not being, a connection between the war in Iraq and the London bombings. Recall this sentence in the Sunday Times (front page): 'The Iraq war is identified by the dossier as a key cause of young Britons turning to terrorism.'


Go to our page: Denial Monitor, which tracks some of those either denying or affirming a link between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the London atrocities


2) Letters Pages contact details


It is as useful to write in to praise as it is to criticise. Don't forget to include your full postal address and daytime/evening phone numbers in your email. You can also include a link to the article you're commenting on.

Financial Times letters page

The Guardian letters page

The Independent letters page

The Observer letters page - make 'Letter to the Editor' your subject line.

The Sunday Telegraph letters page

The Sunday Times letters page

The Telegraph letters page

The Times letters page

The Independent on Sunday letters page (tbc)


BBC Internet, Radio or Television - email, phone 08700 100 222 or textphone 08700 100 212

Channel 4 News - email, join the forum, or phone 0207 430 4601

ITN Lunchtime News - email, or text them using the word PULSE followed by your question or comment to 80088

ITN News in general - email, phone 0207 833 3000 or viewer liaison for TV, radio complaints


3) The Importance Of Pressure

The atrocities in London have shocked the world. If we are to avoid perpetuating an endless cycle of confrontation and violence, we must force the mass media to acknowledge the truth about the threat that Britain faces. This threat will only deepen if the bombings lead to more repression and more military action. The threat will only be reduced if we end Britain's participation in injustice around the world. (For more, read here.)


Writing letters to the editor, and directly to columnists, ringing phone-in shows, and complaining about inaccurate coverage, are all valuable.


Critical letters do get into newspapers. H.A.L. Alexander got a letter about the Extremism Report into the Telegraph on 15 July:


Terror Motives

Sir - Downing Street called Charles Kennedy "naive" for suggesting that the Iraq war had fuelled terrorism (News, July 13).

But Young Muslims and Extremism, a report commissioned by Tony Blair and produced by the Home Office and Foreign Office, stated: "The war on terror, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, are all seen by a section of British Muslims as having been acts against Islam."

So the Prime Minister's office brands an opposition leader naive for suggesting something its own experts said is true.

H.A.L. Alexander, London SW6



And on the day that this page was originally posted (11 July 2005), The Times letters page carried two critical letters as their lead letters of the day:


London terror bombings: responses and recriminations
From Mr Bilal Patel

Sir, People who insist that the London attacks (letters, July 9, etc) have nothing to do with Iraq or Afghanistan are living in their own fantasy world. There are reports of threats of retaliation against Muslims because dozens of people were killed by bombs. Is it not possible that there might be similar threats against Britain because Western bombs killed tens of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan? The website of the organisation claiming to be behind the attacks explicitly stated that the attacks are revenge for Afghanistan and Iraq.

We are being reminded, as we learnt with Northern Ireland, that what we do in other places may come with a price nearer home. Politicians who are surrounded by mountains of security give us sanctimonious speeches about good and evil whilst the rest of us have to pay the price of their actions. It is high time that we held them to account.


From Dr Nick Megoran

Sir, The bombers who perpetrated the terrorist outrage on innocent Londoners this week were not trying to change “our way of life” as Tony Blair disingenuously suggested (report, July 8), but rather our foreign policy. The attacks were inexcusable but not inexplicable. Osama bin Laden’s past statements indicate that Britain became a target for him only because of UK backing for America’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Tony Blair’s misguided support of George W. Bush’s illegal and immoral wars brought this tragedy upon us, and we will never enjoy security until that policy is reversed.







This page last updated 15 July 2005






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