Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Irish Independent, Irish Sun, Irish Times, Irish Mirror, Irish Examiner and The Daily Telegraph all report on a series of doctored images posted on Twitter by staff at the Israeli embassy in Dublin that warn of an ‘Islamic invasion’ of Europe and proclaims Israel to be “the last frontier of the free world”. The Irish Central also notes that the images were posted on the embassy’s Facebook page.

The images use European landmarks and works of art to scaremonger about ‘Eurabia’ and elicit European support for Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza.

One of the images showed Dublin’s iconic statue of Molly Malone covered by a full length black niqab with the words “Israel now Dublin next” placed on it.

Another image titled “Israel now Paris next” depicted Mona Lisa wearing a hijab and holding a rocket in her hand. The Mona Lisa hangs in the French museum Le Louvre.

In yet another image, Michelangelo’s statue of David was portrayed with Arab head-dress and an explosive belt around its waist. It was accompanied by the words “Israel now Italy next.”

In a fourth image, Edvard Eriksen’s statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen is shown to be an armed militant holding a large gun. Again, the image is emblazoned with the similar words, “Israel now Denmark next.”

According to the Irish Independent and Irish Central, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy confirmed to the Irish Sun that the images were sent from official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The spokesman added that “they were taken down, I don’t know why.

“Often things get deleted for space reasons but it wasn’t taken down because of any complaints.”

Both the Irish Mirror and the Irish Times note that the series of images follow the embassy’s previous tweet of a Palestinian flag superimposed on a picture of Adolf Hitler with the words “Free Palestine now”.

In a similar vein, the Daily Telegraph observed last week that the Israeli Defence Forces tweeted a doctored image portraying the Houses of Parliament in flames with rockets flying overhead.

Andy Slaughter, a Labour MP and secretary of Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group, said at the time: “It seems crass at best. The Israelis are past masters at propaganda. This will bring it home to Members that they have lost all sense of perspective and are out of control.”

The Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Boaz Modai, told the Daily Telegraph that he was unable to comment because “we are now in the middle of a war and I have other things to deal with”.

The use of social media as a propaganda tool by Israel has been noted in several reports filed by journalists since the launch of Israel’s destructive military campaign in Gaza last month and its desperate attempt to win over global public opinion despite warning from the UN’s human rights commissioner of possible war crimes being committed.

In the Independent on Sunday, columnist Patrick Cockburn drew attention to The Israel Project and its ‘Global Language Dictionary’, designed to drip feed pro-Israeli propaganda on the airwaves. Cockburn writes:

“On every occasion, the presentation of events by Israeli spokesmen is geared to giving Americans and Europeans the impression that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians and is prepared to compromise to achieve this, when all the evidence is that it does not. Though it was not intended as such, few more revealing studies have been written about modern Israel in times of war and peace.”

Bradford’s local paper the Telegraph and Argus reports on the decision by HSBC to close the bank account of the Bradford office of Muslim charity, Ummah Welfare Trust.

UWT have received notice from the bank that its account will be closed in two months’ time though the bank have provided no details as to the reasons for the closure.

The paper notes the concern of staff at UWT who suspect the bank have served the closure notice because “some of the money it collects goes towards humanitarian projects in Palestine.”

The charity has appealed to its local MP, George Galloway, who said he would contact the bank and ask questions in the House over the matter.

Mohammed Ahmed, on the trustees of UWT, said: “From a commercial perspective it doesn’t make sense because charities like us are some of the most stable customers.

“We do have alternate banking in place, so this won’t affect our operations but we find it quite offensive that a bank would go out of its way to do this to a legitimate charity,” according to the local paper. 

In 2008, Ummah Welfare Trust was unceremoniously dumped by its then bank, Barclays, again without any reason offered as to the 30 day notice served.

HSBC’s move comes at an important time for the charity with a spokesperson noting the significance of banking facilities during Ramadan when “we get 70 per cent of the donations we get each year.” 

Interesting in the news report is the reaction of the Charities Commission to UWT’s plight. Given the attention the Commission has directed at Muslim charities in the last few months, leading to accusations of ‘bias’ (4), one would think the Commission would do rather better than say “This is an independent business decision made by the bank.”

“Neither the charity nor the Charity Commission are aware of the reason for this action. The Charity Commission’s regulatory concern is ensuring that another provider is identified, the charity can still operate and funds are not at risk. We remain in contact with the charity,” a Charity Commission spokesperson told the local paper. But since proper banking facilities is vital to allowing charities to comply with the regulator’s rules, shouldn’t there be more interest and concern with the decision by HSBC to terminate banking arrangements without an explanation?

The Independent picks up on the Sunday Mirror’s interview with Britain First founder Jim Dowson in which he claims to have resigned from the far right group for its “unacceptable and unchristian” mosque ‘invasions.

The Sunday Mirror published the interview last week stating Dowson had quit the group because he deemed the far right group’s ‘Operation Fightback’ campaign to be “unacceptable and unchristian” as well as “provocative and counterproductive”. Dowson also added the raids were attracting “racists and extremists” to the organisation.

Britain First have carried out a number of invasions of mosques across the country including in Crayford, Glasgow, and areas in the North West of England.

According to the Sunday Mirror, Dowson claims he has ended Britain First’s funding, closed their office in Belfast and severed all other links with the group. Dowson further stated, “Most of the Muslims in this country are fine.

“They are worried about extremists the same as us. So going into their mosques and stirring them up and provoking them is political madness and a bit rude.

“No matter how many times I told him [Britain First’s chair, Paul Golding] I did not want decent Muslims intimidated, he just continued doing it.

“I have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I tried, you cannot escape from the fact that the group is being overrun with racists and extremists.

“I think he is fooling himself and lots of people that Britain First is a Christian group. Sadly, it has just become a violent front for people abusing the Bible.

“I think they’re becoming as much a problem as Anjem Choudary who they claim to oppose. They are just as bad as each other.”

Britain First on its website states that Dowson’s resignation was the result of “enormous pressure” from the media that have forced Dowson to “distance himself from these activities, notwithstanding the fact that these mosque invasions have caused considerable exposure of issues such as Muslim female genital mutilation, second class treatment of women, extremism and grooming gangs”.

The Independent also notes that an open letter by Dowson to fellow members was published on Britain First’s website which seems to contradict the spirit of the interview with the Sunday Mirror. In the letter Dowson expresses his decision to retire from “all political activities” due to “recent political and personal events and family health issues” including charges he faces for his role in Belfast protests against the council’s decision to stop flying the Union Jack every day. Dowson alludes to bail conditions which impede his movements as a contributing factor to his decision to retire saying “My bail conditions make it almost impossible to function and at every turn I am under restrictive police surveillance”.

Describing Britain First as a “nazi free, non racist, sensible patriotic group”, Dowson wrote that one of the root causes of the nation’s demise was “the demographic time bomb brought solely by OUR reluctance to produce precious children. In a plea to members to put children first and to reverse the decline of the White British birth rate, Dowson wrote, “Given the demographic facts I can assure you that Islam WILL dominate Britain in less than 1 generation.

“Of course militant Islam is a threat to our future, we know that but Britain First was set up to tackle ALL major issues that affect our people not just militant Islam.

“Even if every single Muslim left the UK tomorrow we would still be utterly doomed as a nation and a people.”

The Chester Chronicle reports on the theft of plants from the grounds of the Shah Jalal mosque in Blacon, Cheshire.

The plants, which were recently planted by a cross section of the local community as part of a ‘building bridges’ project, were unearthed from the mosque’s grounds just a day after they had been laid down. In the midst of the heatwave on Thursday last week volunteers planted the 40 plants, some of which had been donated by local businesses, in the grounds of the mosque.

“Teenagers and youth workers from Christian churches across Chester, local police, PSCOs, council workers and councillors had spent the afternoon planting 40 plants and shrubs, in a project praised for ‘building bridges between the communities’”, according to the local paper.

Police suspect the plants were dug up in the early hours of Friday.

Cheshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, John Dwyer, who attended the planting effort on Thursday said, “What we saw last week was the local community working together with the mosque to make the area look more appealing with the use of plants.

“Now we’ve witnessed actions of a mindless few which are absolutely disgraceful.

“This has undone some of the fantastic work done by the community and local PCSOs. I know that the police will be doing everything they can to apprehend the perpetrators.”

The Shah Jalal mosque has been engaged in a number of activities in recent months to welcome members of the local community, including a number of visits from schools in the region. Sergeant Ian Wilson of Cheshire police force said: “This latest initiative at the mosque is a fantastic example of the integration between the local and mosque communities.

“As the community Sergeant for the Blacon area I am really pleased with the progress made in developing relationships between the two communities as a result of these and other initiatives.”

The Times today covers the petition launched by Taj Hargey to have the burqa and niqab banned in Britain following the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights defending a ban imposed by the French state.

The paper notes Hargey’s hope that attracting 100,000 signatures will force a parliamentary debate on the matter.

Curious among the claims made by Hargey in defence of the ban and his petition in support of one is this:

“In the past, only rightwing groups wanted to proscribe the burka and niqab. The difference now is that progressive and integrated Muslims are in the forefront of this extraordinary endeavour.”

How revealing that he should regard as ‘progressive and integrated’ those Muslims who think the state should dictate a woman’s dress; who avail themselves of illiberal and draconian measures to impose their beliefs on others and who dismiss female agency thinking it their business to determine a woman’s sense of self. Progressive and integrated indeed!

Hargey goes further, saying “If Britain’s political establishment do not tackle and defeat Islamic religious fanaticism now, it will become impossible to do so when Muslims become a bigger proportion of British society.”

The only thing ‘extraordinary’ about Hargey’s endeavour is the laying bare of the deliberate conflation of conservative religious practice with ‘Islamic religious fanaticism’ by bigots who masquerade as liberals.

The Times notes the opinion of a spokesperson from The Department for Culture Media and Sport who said: “Any restrictions on what a woman can wear in public would be out of keeping with British values and our nation’s longstanding record of religious tolerance and gender equality.”

The Bristol Post covers the alarming story of a young Muslim woman born and raised in the city who was abused and spat at on her way to work this week by a man using events in the Middle East as a pretext to violate her dignity. While there has been significant coverage in the newspapers in the last couple days of anti-Semitic attacks that have followed events unfolding in the Middle East, this is the first case documenting its impact on Muslim communities.

Hasina Khan, like other Muslim women who have shared their experiences of anti-Muslim hate crime in the city, spoke to the Bristol Post about what happened. She said:

“I’ve experienced hostility and racism many times, from being called Paki in the street to having alcohol thrown at me.

“I remember during the 1990 Iraq invasion being pushed by a boy at school followed by ‘haha we are bombing you’, to more recent years when the world turned to topple Libya and I experienced yet again a rise in racism. In fact, every time there is aggression towards Muslims outside of the UK, I experience aggression from within the UK.

“I had just past Pret A Manger and a man came charging towards me with such aggression I thought he was going to punch me in the face.

“He was ranting and he spat in my face. I felt it fall onto my left hand.

“I was in shock at what was happening. I asked him what his problem was, but he continued to rant and said something along the lines of ‘your people are killing’ and something about ‘Middle East’ and ‘killing Christians’. He spat at me again. It was terrifying. I thought he was going to attack me at any second.

“Then my defence mechanism just kicked in and I started to shout at him. What a coward – he then started to back away. He tried to say something else, but I continued to shout at him until he left Cabot Circus. I’ve read so many reports that hate crime towards Muslim women is increasing in the UK, but nothing really prepares you for what to do if it happens and how humiliating, terrifying and dirty it makes you feel.”

Hasina washed her hijab at her workplace but told the paper that the police advised that they could have used the saliva for DNA testing to help track down the perpetrator. She said she wanted to share this detail with fellow Muslim women should they ever be abused in the same way.

One notable detail in the article is the response of one of Hasina’s colleagues to the incident. Carolyn Parker told the Bristol Post, “When she told me that no one had tried to help, or even asked afterwards whether she was ok, I was truly sickened by the public’s lack of action towards her.”

In a hate crime incident involving another Muslim woman in Bristol city centre, the lack of regard by passersby who witnessed the incident was also pointed out. It is worth reminding readers that reporting hate crime is something that can be done by witnesses as well as victims.

Avon and Somerset police spokesman Martin Dunscombe said: “Officers are investigating these allegations and taking them very seriously. We know there were other people in Cabot Circus at the time and we would appeal for anyone who witnessed what happened, or has any information that might help the investigation, to contact us on 101, quoting 74214/14.”

The report by Peter Clarke, former head of the counter-terrorism division at the Metropolitan Police Service, into the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ affair in Birmingham is in many of the papers today.

The report, published yesterday, makes the front page of the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian with other coverage including the Daily Express, Daily Star, Independent and Daily Mail.

The newspapers focus principally on the findings by Clarke of ‘clear evidence that there are a number of people, associated with each other and in position of influence in schools and governing bodies, who espouse, endorse or fail to challenge extremist views’ and who have been ‘involved in behaviours…that have destabilised headteachers’ with action carried out in a ‘co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained’ manner so as to ‘introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos in a few schools in Birmingham’.

Clarke claims the investigation has ‘revealed a sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strand of Sunni Islam.’

The report argues such an ‘agenda…appears to stem from an international movement to increase the role of Islam in education. It is supported by bodies such as the association of Muslim Schools UK, the International Board of Educational Research and Resources, the Muslim Council of Britain and the recently closed Muslim Parents Association.’

The mention by Clarke of a ‘politicised strand of Sunni Islam’ is further developed in a successive paragraph which states: ‘Essentially, the ideology revealed by this investigation is an intolerant and politicised form of extreme social conservatism that claims to represent, and ultimately seeks to control, all Muslims. In its separatist assertions and attempts to subvert the normal processes, it amounts to what is often described as Islamism.’

The report cites the definition of extremism, as presented in the Government’s 2011 Prevent strategy, in its scrutiny of online communications between teachers and governors in a WhatsApp group named the ‘Park View Brotherhood’. The group’s membership is purportedly all male.

The report does not explain how the transcript of the messages came to be in the possession of the inquiry. In its detail on the subjects discussed and content or tone of the messages, the report concludes that there is ‘clear evidence’ of a ‘number of people, associated with each other and in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies, who espouse, endorse or fail to challenge extremist views.’

The subjects singled out in the report, based on the WhatsApp messages include gender equality, political activity, homophobia, sceptical reaction to reports of terrorist attacks, disparagement of British armed forces and anti-Israeli images.

Clarke claims that views shared suggesting the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May 2013 was a ‘hoax’, like others in the communication trail, were not challenged by teachers and governors in the online group.

To this end, Clarke concludes that while he ‘neither specifically looked for nor found evidence of terrorism, radicalisation or violent extremism in the schools of concern in Birmingham’, the ‘hardline strand of Sunni Islam’ promoted in the schools ‘raises real concerns about their [pupils] vulnerability to radicalisation in the future and ‘will make it harder for them to question or challenge radical influences [in the future].’

The WhatsApp message trail appears prominently in the newspapers with the Daily Star titling its article on the report ‘Kids told Rigby murder ‘a hoax’’ although the report is clear that the communications were exchanged between teachers and governors, not pupils. The Daily Star repeats the assertion in its editorial stating ‘fanatic teachers were trying to brainwash kids by claiming Lee Rigby’s murder was a hoax’.

While there are a number of serious shortcomings detailed in the report, ‘brainwashing kids’ into believing Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder was ‘a hoax’ is not one of them.

The Daily Mail headlines with ‘Internet hate messages of the extremist teachers’ while the Independent leads with the Education Secretary’s response to the report in the form of tightening rules. The Independent notes Nicky Morgan’s statement to the House of Commons yesterday in which she stated ‘actions which undermine fundamental British values should be viewed as misconduct’ resulting in teachers being ‘barred from the profession’.

The Guardian and Daily Telegraph vary in their coverage of the report. The Guardian editorial focuses largely on policy failures associated with the introduction of free schools and academies and the loosening of regulatory and oversight mechanisms.

The Daily Telegraph editorial makes a significant leap in its reading of the report to claim ‘This saga reinforces the need to arrest the spread of Islamist ideology through the schools, not least because it radicalises impressionable young men, some of whom have ended up fighting in Syria and Iraq and harbour a hatred of western values that may yet be turned back on their own country.’

Clarke referred to ‘real concerns’ about the vulnerability of pupils to radicalisation, not as the Daily Telegraph editorial suggests, a clear and verifiable causal relationship between extremist views and radicalisation. Salma Yaqoob, a former Birmingham City Councillor, in a comment published in The Guardian reiterates: ‘There is no natural spectrum that takes a person from observing a faith to extremism, to violent extremism’.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, David Ward, finds himself in the papers again today after tweeting a message stating: “The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes.”

The Mirror, Guardian and BBC News all pick up on the criticism levelled at the MP following the tweet.

david-wardGrant Shapps, Conservative Party chairman tweeted a message in response saying no MP should post a comment which is “essentially incitement to violence” adding that Ward “must withdraw now”. A Liberal Democrat spokesperson “utterly condemned” the remark saying it was “not representative” of the party’s position.

Ward, speaking to BBC News, said in defence of the posting, “The question is why would they want to fire missiles when they know that the missiles will result in further Palestinian deaths, to a disproportionate level? Why are they doing it?”

“They are doing it because they are absolutely desperate and politicians in the West are failing them.

“The people in Gaza cannot escape, they are hemmed in by land, sea and air. I understand the plight of the people firing the rockets.”

Ward is not alone in his understanding. In 2002, Cherie Blair was pilloried when she spoke out against the feeling of hopelessness felt by many Palestinians. She said “As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up you are never going to make progress.”

And the PM David Cameron, in 2010, spoke out against the conditions Gazans lived under saying “Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.

“People in Gaza are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open-air prison.”

Ward, in his effort to link cause and effect, further stated in an interview with BBC Radio Leeds:

“There will be a ceasefire, then there will be a period of calm.

“But during that period of calm when hopefully people are not being murdered, there will still be Palestinians who are being shot by the Israeli forces, they will still be beaten up, there will still be child detentions – that to the Israelis is peace.

“When someone is not firing a rocket at Israel, that is peace.”

Local paper, Newbury Today, reports on the court appearance of a woman charged with racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress after she allegedly attacked a bus passenger who had the courage to challenge her foul-mouthed anti-Muslim, racist tirade.

Tara Elaine King, 35, was overheard by passengers talking loudly to the bus driver in Thatcham, Berkshire praising the English Defence League and making racist remarks about Muslims and other minorities.

Christine Dare, a passenger on the bus asked King to keep her opinions to herself and to moderate her language on account of a young child on the bus. When ignored by King, Dare approached the driver and requested he do something but the driver told her to return to her seat.

When Dare sat down, King approached her seat and allegedly spat on her. The two women got into a tussle with King grabbing Ms Dare’s face and scratching her.

King initially denied the charge but later pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress though she denied spitting on Ms Dare. Two fellow passengers on the bus gave evidence in support of Ms Dare saying they too had been incensed by King’s anti-Muslim and racist remarks.

King was bailed until July 31 as pre-sentence reports are prepared dealing with mitigating circumstances presented, including post traumatic stress disorder.

Magistrates judge Sue Campbell said: “This was a very distressing, offensive and unpleasant incident which took place in public.

“There are many aggravating features all options remain open, including custody.”

The report in Newbury Today follows a report in another local paper last week, the Bristol Post, which noted the failure of passersby to come to the aid of a Muslim teenager who was assaulted in full view of people walking through Bristol City Centre. Yesterday, the Government announced a new Bill designed to give individuals who come to the aid of others in an emergency legal protection.

The  Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill stipulates that “where a person acts heroically, responsibly or for the benefit of others, this will be taken into account by the courts”.

The Daily Mail last week published a column by Taj Hargey in which he announced his plans to launch a campaign to ban the burqa in Britain.

The launch of the campaign has been primarily driven by the legal precedent set by the European Court ruling earlier this month, upholding the French niqab ban introduced in 2010. Hargey, someone who has fulsomely railed against the right of women to wear the niqab and burqa, appears to be exploiting the ruling of the ECHR to suit his own ends.

Describing the burqa as an “increasing fashion” adopted by young Muslim women in Britain, Hargey argues it is “one of the most sinister developments of our times” and “another weapon in the jihadist arsenal of misogyny, like forced marriage, female genital mutilation and sexist discrimination.”

Similarly to his letter in the Times and his previous condemnations, he reiterates his claims that the burqa is “an archaic tribal piece of cloth” and “a cultural fad imported from Saudi Arabia” that is used by “fundamentalist zealots to promote a toxic brand of extremist non-Koranic theology”.

Hargey states that he is launching a “nationwide campaign for a blanket ban against “all types of covering”. The campaign includes leading a formal petition calling for a ban in order to compel Parliament to debate the issue. Petitions attracting over 100,000 signatures meet the requisite conditions to force a parliamentary debate on the subject.

While he calls on all people in Britain to oppose the burqa, he proclaims that “mainstream Muslims should be at the forefront of the campaign” because the burqa apparently “undermines the credibility and reputation of our faith”.

He repeats his belief that “there is no religious requirement on Muslims to don the burka”; that “the burka is not a feature of Pakistani culture, where 90 per cent of women do not wear it”; and that “there is no unqualified human right to wear whatever we want in public.”

In an attempt to engage with Islamic religious sources to bolster his argument, Hargey states “Nor is there any evidence in the Koran to support the wearing of the burka. Indeed, the Holy Book stipulates that men ‘should lower their gaze’ when meeting women to avoid lecherous staring (verse 24, chapter 30). So logically, if women were fully covered up there would be no need for such an instruction.”

He goes on, “Some Muslim clergy claim that the burka is religiously necessary. They assert this because the Prophet Muhammad’s wives allegedly hid their faces in public.

“These puritanical clerics do not base their theological misrepresentations on the Koran but on the subsidiary and suspect hadith (a collection of books containing the reputed sayings of Muhammad, written 250 years after his death).

“In any case, this is a wilful misreading of scripture. In fact, verse 32 of chapter 33 in the Koran explicitly states that ‘the Prophet’s wives are not like other women’. So there is no reason to emulate them.”

Yet his comments seem profoundly contradictory. In arguing that there is “no reason to emulate [the wives of the Prophet (saw)]”, he seems to accept the veracity of the traditions of the Prophet’s wives that are outlined in hadiths and which inform the practice of emulation adopted by Muslim women who aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Moreover, for many women, the distinction made between the Prophet’s wives and other women merely signifies that the Prophet’s wives are role models. It may not be to Hargey’s liking, but to dismiss other interpretations of texts in order to compound his own position is tantamount to the same “fundamentalist zealotry” he accuses conservative scholars of practising.

Indeed, Hargey ignores the fact that many women who wear the niqab or burqa do so of their own free will and based on their own interpretation of Islam. Something that contradicts his view of it as another “weapon in the jihadist arsenal of misogyny”.

Hargey further adds that the burqa “threatens social harmony, fuels distrust, has grave health implications and is a potent security risk”.

While the European Court ruling upheld the French ban based on the claims the face coverings undermined the notion of “living together”, the ruling was widely criticised by human rights organisations as well as two dissenting judges for not being based upon any legal concept. Arguments in defence of security were rejected by the Court. 

Hargey asserts that “Our society is already seeing rises in rickets and other bone-related diseases for the first time since World War II.” Something he links to Vitamin D deficiency as a consequence of covering but given the negligible numbers of women who actually wear the niqab and burqa – a very small minority of Muslim women – to infer that this is the singular cause of the rise in bone-related diseases in the UK is to wildly overestimate their actual numbers.

It is ironic that given the upward trend in malignant melanoma arising from skin related diseases since the 1970s, there have not been moves to enforce upon individuals protective clothing or sun protection to ward off skin cancer which research has shown to be caused by excessive exposure to the sun. If Hargey believes that a burqa ban should be imposed to ward off medical conditions aggravated by lack of Vitamin D, should he not, by the same token, undertake to front a campaign tackling a problem that affects far more Britons and set about getting people to cover up?