Former UKIP leader’s comments on Muslims receive hundreds of Ofcom complaints
- Credit: Sky News
A former UKIP leader's appearance on Sky News has attracted 493 complaints after the peer made numerous claims about the UK's Muslim population.
Lord Pearson, who now sits as an independent, told Sky News' All Out Politics that he believes Muslims are instructed not to mix with other people, and that Muslim birthrates rates are growing "ten times faster than ours", meaning compared to non-Muslims.
The advocacy organisation Tell MAMA has debunked these claims as a "racist myth" and TV ombudsman Ofcom confirmed that it has had 493 complaints directly related to Pearson's comments.
Lord Pearson, who claimed to have studied Islam for seven years, has in the past reached out to Tommy Robinson for advice because he believes the former EDL leader is a "Qu'ranic expert".
He justified this on Sky News by saying he hoped Robinson would help him advance the debate.
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He acknowledged that the vast majority of Muslims are "peace-loving and all the rest of it", before calling for a "new form of Islam" that is compatible with "our western democracy".
When Sky's Adam Boulton said this was an example of 'them and us' politics, he claimed that Muslims are instructed not to mix with people of other faiths, as well as also claiming that the UK's Muslim birthrate is going up "ten times faster than ours".
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"Those who advise me, and I've got a lot of expert Muslim advisors, do say that, that they are actually instructed not to mingle with us," he claimed. "So what happens when in 12 years' time, 11 local authorities, including Birmingham, will be Muslim majority?"
He said he had a written answer from the government about Muslim birthrates as compared to other UK birthrates.
In fact, the answer Pearson received, which had been referred to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), said: "No information on religion is collected at birth registration and so it is not possible to supply information regarding comparative birth rates between Muslim and non-Muslim populations."
Further, Lord Pearson asked for the population data only for areas which have a high Muslim population, so could not give a picture for the UK overall, as he suggested on Sky.
Reacting to the comments, TellMAMA said it is "a form of politics unbecoming and undeserving of such a large media platform".
TellMAMA thoroughly debunked Pearson's claims about Muslims 'replacing' other UK citizens by pointing out discrepancies in his data and noting the instances in which other Lords have challenged his claims.
"The challenge of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic prejudice, violence, and discrimination warrants more media attention, not ... rambling, inchoate conspiracies," said TellMAMA.
The Centre for Media Monitoring, which monitors the portrayal of Muslims in the media, said that the broadcaster had failed to challenge Lord Pearson sufficiently and encouraged its followers to complain to Ofcom.
Ofcom has not yet stated whether or not it plans to conduct an investigation into the interview.