A revolt by members of the NUJ journalists’ union at the Daily Star forced management to scrap an anti-Muslim page last week. Workers organised to strike a blow against the Islamophobia that has filled the right wing tabloids over the last few weeks.
The “Daily Fatwah” page was headlined “How Britain’s fave newspaper would look under Muslim rule”. Planned features on the page included a page 3 “Burqa Babes” and a censored editorial. The headline on the spoof Daily Star was “Death To All Infidels”.
But union members were outraged by the page and organised to make their feelings known at an emergency meeting, held at 8.30pm as the paper was about to go to press.
An NUJ chapel rep at Express Newspapers, which owns the Daily Star, told Socialist Worker, “This page was down and ready to go on Tuesday evening. As more people on the Star saw it more people became outraged.
“There was a lot of discussion among the staff and NUJ members decided to hold an emergency chapel [workplace union branch] meeting, which around 15 people attended.
“The chapel was disgusted, appalled and shocked. There are many decent and talented people who work on the Daily Star.
“Their concerns were severalfold, the first being that the page was offensive to Muslims. It could have provoked hatred of Muslims. There were also concerns about the repercussions about saying something so offensive and the staff’s own safety. It was a broad discussion.
“The overwhelming majority voted to pass a resolution calling on the management to pull the page. They were making a stand on an ethical issue, which is an unusual thing to do.
“Management went into a complete flap and pulled the page, though they reserved the right to publish it again.”
Jeremy Dear, the NUJ general secretary said, “This was an outrageous and hugely irresponsible idea which our chapel courageously resisted, and in so doing protected the paper and its staff from possible serious repercussions.
“The union’s code of conduct condemns this sort of gratuitous material, which is likely to encourage discrimination and hatred in our society.”
Ben Knowles, deputy editor at the Daily Star, oversaw the pulled page. He recently joined the paper from the “lads’ mag” Zoo magazine. Zoo ran a similar Muslim?bashing spread last week.
Respect MP George Galloway has launched an Early Day Motion to congratulate the Daily Star journalists for taking their stand. Lobby your MP to sign EDM 2824. Messages of support for the NUJ should be sent to [email protected]