The Daily Mail today published a cartoon likening Muslim refugees to rats, a move which has been met with wide spread hostility on social media. Richard Burgon, Labour MP for Leeds East, condemned the cartoon as “absolutely disgusting” and has written to the Daily Mail demanding a full apology.
This is not the first time the Daily Mail has published controversial content in regards to Islam. The paper also published similar cartoons and illustrations alongside the reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings in January this year. Not only has Mr Burgon called for a full and public apology from the Mail, he also suggested the paper make a “sizeable donation” to an anti-racist organisation.
Whether the Mail will respond to this specific criticism is yet to be revealed, but it is certain that the decision to publish such a cartoon will anger many, regardless of their faith. Depicting refugees as vermin and fuelling anti-Islam sentiment will only result in a divided society, one which will find it harder and harder to join together in defiance of the Paris terror attacks.
In his Facebook post describing the cartoon and his response to it, the Labour MP also went on to request that “appropriate disciplinary action” would be taken against those at the Mail who were involved in the decision to publish it – however high up.
Many have now likened the cartoon to Nazi propaganda in order to drum up anti-Semitic feeling in Germany throughout the 1930s and Second World War. Rats have often been used as a symbol against certain groups of people in order to fuel a specific, and usually nationalist, political agenda. Richard Burgon has said he will publically share the reply he receives from the Daily Mail when possible.
Baroness Helah Afshar is also due to give a lecture on Islamophobia and ‘Refracted reflections of Muslim Women and the dilemma of ‘otherisation’’ at the University of York on Thursday 26th November in the wake of the Paris attacks last Friday.
The lecture will be followed by a panel debate with academics from the Political Studies Association including Professor Angelia Wilson of the University of Manchester, Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards of Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Parveen Akhtar, University of Bradford.
The event takes place in the Ron Cooke Hub Auditorium at the University of York and is free and open to all. To register your place via Eventbrite, please visit https://goo.gl/LnA9aO.