Open letter against racism in Kingston Guardian

To the editor of the Kingston Guardian

We are appalled by a number of articles on the Kingston Guardian website, which pander to racist attitudes or are openly racist.

Anti-Traveller Racism

About a dozen articles have appeared on your website over the past year which document the movements of Travellers. No other community would warrant press coverage when they move from one area to another. This surveillance of Travellers and publication of their movement only serves to pander to racist attitudes against Travellers.

This is shown clearly by some of the online comments made by readers these articles. One commenter says, “[The Travellers] are arrogantly disrespectful and they *need* to keep “travelling” – off a pier.” Another gloats, “Once we leave Europe… life’s gonna get pretty hard for them and it won’t be a moment too soon.”

We call on you to end this harassment of Travellers. It is of no interest to anyone, apart from those who wish to whip up hatred, for you to publish the current addresses of Traveller families. The furore which this dog-whistle reportage can cause has the possibility of putting these vulnerable families at further risk.

Islamophobia

We are also absolutely outraged by a recent article (“Muslims: Get your house in order!”), written after the Woolwich murder, which was clearly Islamophobic.

The article lays the blame for the murder on the Muslim community as a whole. A section reads, “Mosques need to do more to root out extremists and those spouting extremist views.”

When racist EDL thugs attacked Kingston Mosque in 2010, your newspaper did not call for white people to root out the extremists in the local area. It did not blame all white people for the actions of a tiny minority. Do you think all white people are responsible for the series of attempted bomb and arson attacks on mosques we’ve seen over the past few months?

It is unacceptable to impose the responsibility for an individual act on a whole section of the population. It re-enforces Islamophobic racism and panders to the views of the far-right. We call for a full apology.

Zahida Ali Croydon, Rosemary Addington Surbiton, Jessica Andrews Surbiton, Neeta Barot Walton on Thames, S Brownlie Surbiton, Lisbeth Campos Richmond, James Cameron New Malden, Ryan Coley Kingston, Richard Donnelly New Malden, Nilufer Erdem Kingston, Richard Exworthy Tolworth, Alistair Farrow Teddington, Clinton Fraser Kingston, Catia Freitas Cobham, Ana Goncalves Surbiton, Antony Hamilton New Malden, Hamza Hamouchene Kingston, Mary Holmes Twickenham, Hafsa Ismailjee Kingston, Ruwayda Mustafa Kingston, Noel Hamel New Malden, John Johnson Kingston, Clare Keogh Kingston, Martin Lake Norbiton, Rita Leech Chessington, Francis Lyons Guildford, Francesca Manning New Malden, John Merrick Norbiton, Ben Millard Kingston, Chasity Nao Greenwich/Kingston, Ewan Nicolson New Malden, Pippa Porcupine Guildford, Julie Reay New Malden, Neil Rogall Richmond, Iain Taylor-Comyn New Malden, Richard Tamplin Richmond, Dave Tinham Kingston, Sherrl Yanowitz Rogall Richmond, Joe Stanley-Smith Kingston, Jean Vidler New Malden, Lauren Walters Blackheath/Kingston, Reverend Jonathan Wilkes Kingston, Flik Wolf New Malden.

You can sign this open letter by leaving a comment below or by emailing kingstonuniteagainstfascism@gmail.com.

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One thought on “Open letter against racism in Kingston Guardian

  1. kingstonuaf says:

    A reply from the Kingston Guardian to our open letter against racism in the local media.

    I’m very sorry that your signatories consider that a number of articles on the Kingston Guardian website are either pandering to racist attitudes or are openly racist.

    We welcome their stance against racism and prejudice and willingness to speak up but to accuse the Kingston Guardian of these things when we honestly attempt to report the news is shooting the messenger.

    We are not a racist paper and do not pander to racist attitudes. We search ourselves before we publish stories and we are satisfied that our coverage of travellers was focused solely on the reaction from police, the council and others to a group breaking the law by moving in on public land without permission.

    We are not whipping up hatred, using dog-whistle reportage or putting anybody’s lives at risk. No-one in the article says anything remotely racist.
    If your objection is simply to the principle of reporting on travellers’ movements onto a public park, it is simply not correct to say that it is of no interest to anyone, apart from those who wish to whip up hatred. You only have to consider what would happen if a group moved onto the grounds of a church, the car park of a political party, the hospital, or the riverside.

    Whenever we have been able to speak to travellers we put their side of the story forward, in the same way we have put forward any other groups, including the squatters on Ravens Ait and

    environmental groups who took over Canbury Gardens 10 years ago.

    With regard to the comments on our site, our websites are not moderated, which means we do not vet comments as they are put up, but will take down any brought to our attention which are racist or designed to cause any other form of offence.

    Our piece about the Muslim community was an opinion piece written by Our Secret Curmudgeon. We actively encourage opinion and debate in our paper and website but this is neither the editorial position of the newspaper, a ‘racist’ point of view or the first time anybody has ventured this opinion.

    I have found the article from the Independent around the same time by Ali Miraj making a similar point and I’m sure given more time I would find others, including in the Muslim community, saying similar, as well as others arguing vociferously against this idea.

    If you ever have an opinion piece written from a community leader of organisation we would be happy to consider it for our letters page, your say section of our website and of course you can comment below stories as well.

    When racist thugs attacked Kingston mosque our paper devoted countless hours to covering the crime. I personally spent many hours reporting the court case, interviewed the organiser of the march to put questions about whether he bore any responsibility for the attack by organising the march, put both sides of the story and let readers decide.

    We even tracked down one of the attackers by printing one of our pictures of the march on our front page. We also did a strong piece inside the mosque to show people who did not understand what goes on inside a mosque the chance to see the kinds of people, including retired British army majors and pop stars, while at the same time reporting different opinions from within mosque-goers on the treatment of women in Islam.

    I hope this helps answer some of the points in the petition. I am more than happy to run your letter and please would any your signatories feel free to call me to talk through any of these points.

    Yours,

    David

    David Lindsell

    Assistant editor

    Surrey Comet and Kingston Guardian

    w 0208 744 4244

    Twitter: @kingstonnewsed

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