Monday, 28 February 2011

Islamophobia Watch: Johann Hari

Johann Hari has written an article for the latest Attitude, "Can We Talk About Muslim Homophobia Now?", in which he states:
"East London has seen the highest increase in homophobic attacks anywhere in Britain. Everybody knows why, and nobody wants to say it. It is because East London has the highest Muslim population in Britain, and we have allowed a fanatically intolerant attitude towards gay people to incubate there, in the name of 'tolerance'."
Patrick Lilley, the man behind the black gay club night, Queer Nation, has written to Johann Hari pointing out that figures released by the Metropolitan Police do not bear out the inflammatory claim that there has been a huge increase in homophobic violence in "Muslim" areas of East London.
I've made some edits for reasons of space - you can read Lilley's letter in full on Islamophobia Watch.

Hi Johann

Further to my letter yesterday to which I have as yet received no reply.
I care deeply about the gay community of which I am part. I also care deeply about our relationships with the wider community & other minorities which I am either a part or live, work and play amongst. I live in a very Muslim area – Edgware Road – and have NEVER encountered any homophobia here.
I would like to discuss your logic and honesty in your article CAN WE TALK ABOUT MUSLIM HOMOPHOBIA and your claims on your blog and in Attitude magazine.
"East London has seen the highest increase in homophobic attacks anywhere in Britain."
I disagree. North London has [a bigger rise than East London], according to the Metropolitan Police Service. Specifically what do you base this claim on?
"Muslim" East London according to Met Police stats saw a reduction of over 10% in reported Homophobic Crimes and in Hackney, home of the George and Dragon, it was down [7%] year on year...
"Everybody knows why, and nobody wants to say it. It is because East London has the highest Muslim population in Britain, and we have allowed a fanatically intolerant attitude towards gay people to incubate there, in the name of 'tolerance'."
I agree only that most Muslims are concentrated in the east London boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. Prejudice may lie behind your claim that "everybody knows why".
Therefore IF your claim is true, we would expect the statistics for the Met Police to reflect and back up your inflammatory claims.
Here are the latest stats on reported Homophobic Crimes in London and the % changes year on year -
The figures shows a year on year reduction in the number of reported crimes in the areas with most Muslims i.e. East London and dramatic reductions in some areas of high Muslim populations including Newham and Waltham Forest and only 2 more incidents in the year to Jan 2011 than the year to Jan 2010 in Tower Hamlets.The overall changes in "Muslim" East London are over -10% reported crimes, year on year till Jan 2010 and Jan 2011...
North London and Islington saw a much bigger rise in reported homophobic crimes...
If you have other information that contradicts these year on year statistics from the Metropolitan Police I'd be happy to see them?
There are however huge variations in totals of reported Homophobic Crimes: some Boroughs rise by 60% others decline by the same amount. I don't know what may affect reporting of homophobic crime but on the basis of the information available from the Met your claims that East London has the highest increase in homophobic crime is TOTALLY inaccurate (and inflammatory).
Please justify this with more than anecdotal stories about the George and Dragon. We can guess that most of these crimes are probably not reported for a wide range of reasons.
If you haven't seen these figures before I'd suggest that you and Attitude publish these figures along with comments condemning the homophobic stickers by leading local Muslims.
I fear your article has really fanned the flames of misunderstanding in our community. You are an award winning journalist – let's both probe and find the truth and share it with people, not pander to prejudice.
I again invite you to join the local residents and friends of the "Help Yourself To Love" campaign that is combating hate with love!

Kind regards

Patrick Lilley

• Fagburn has taken issue with Hari's article before, and has also taken issue with Hari's fact-checking.
Search MediaLens for several critiques of Hari's journalism on Iraq, and UK foreign policy etc...
See also the great blogposts; Lenin's Tomb - 'Can We Finally Talk About Johann Hari's Muslim Problem Now?', Howupsetting ''Can We Talk About Liberal Bias Now?', and Aethelreadtheunread 'Can We Talk About Johann Hari's Shoddy Journalism Now?'

UPDATE: Hari has published a (pathetic) correction - posted in Comments below this...


  1. You regularly crucify Christian bigots on Fagburn but are always very apologetic to Muslim bigots.

  2. A correction Hari has posted beneath his article on his website.
    It's good to see a correction where he gets PATRICK Lilley's name wrong, I guess he's confused him with the Tory ex-cabinet minister.
    And if Hari says he's been sent lots of emails from gay kids in Tower Hamlets "many of them Muslim", then I suppose we have to believe him.

    CORRECTION: This article originally said Tower Hamlets had the single highest rise in homophobic violence in the UK, when in fact it merely had one of the highest rises over the past decade. Credit to Peter Lilley for emailing to point this out.

    It is also true there has been a slight fall in the homophobic violence there over the past two years, but this is almost certainly due to the fact that lots of gay people (like me) have moved out of the area. Horrific gay-bashings, posters calling for gay people to be killed, and people handing out leaflets demanding the death of gays will have that effect. To claim the driving out of gay people as evidence for a fall in homophobia is pretty perverse.

    Thanks to all the gay kids from Tower Hamlets - mostly from Muslim families - who emailed me because of this article: I'd like to be able to tell you that help is on the way, but with David Cameron expanding faith schools and even many supposed left-wingers minimizing or even denying the greater homophobia you face, I fear there isn't.

  3. I keep meaning to leave comments when Hari gets things wrong on his website, but he changed it so noone can leave comments anymore. Guess why.

  4. It looks like Johann got his come uppance finally.... its good to see that justice occaisionally gets done. Shame really, he is an entertaining writer at times... just should not claim his journalism is based on fact when its more likely to be fiction! Queens like him get the rest of us a bad name. I wonder where he moved to?

  5. He's moved up to Hampstead - to get away from all those damned plebs and brown people