You will be aware that the man apprehended for the murder of Palmira Silva in Edmonton, north London, on Thursday 4 September, Nicholas Salvador, is reported to be a Muslim convert according to sources quoted by various newspapers. The sources have not been verified or corroborated, for example, the Imam who presided over the conversion ceremony has not been identified or spoken about the alleged conversion to Islam of Nicholas Salvador five years ago.
The unverified claims did not prevent The Sun newspaper from splashing the headline ”Muslim convert’ beheads woman in garden’ on its front page on Friday 5 September.
Whether the claims of Salvador being a Muslim or are true or not, the Editors’ Code of Practice prohibits newspapers from disclosing an individual’s religious identity unless ‘genuinely relevant’ to the story.
It is difficult to see what bearing Salvador’s religious identity had on the crimes of which he is accused – reports refer to his gambling and history of drug and alcohol abuse.
What you can do
- Write to the Editor of The Sun at firstname.lastname@example.org complain that it is beyond belief that the newspaper would stoke anti-Muslim prejudice with a front page cover deliberately invoking Muslim identity when there was no probable cause to regard it as remotely relevant.
- Write to the Press Complaints Commission at email@example.com with a complaint citing a breach of Clause 12, Article (ii) of the Editors’ Code of Practice which states:Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
Ask the PCC to investigate The Sun’s decision to disclose the claim of Salvador being a ‘Muslim convert’ and the relevance of his religious identity to his beheading of Mrs Silva. Can The Sun explain why it thought this detail is genuinely relevant to the story?
You can copy and paste the template letter below into an email and send it to the Press Complaints Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am writing in relation to the front page story in The Sun newspaper on Friday 5 September 2014 titled ”Muslim convert’ beheads woman in garden’.
The story relates to reports of the beheading of Mrs Palmira Silva in the garden of her home in Edmonton, north London on Thursday 4 September.
The accused, Nicholas Salvador, is claimed to be a convert of Islam according to some sources interviewed by the newspaper.
It is my view that The Sun’s cover story breaches Clause 12, Article (ii) of the Editors’ Code of Practice which states:
Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
I fail to see the relevance of Mr Salvador’s religious identity to the crime he is accused of committing. It is a deliberate provocation by The Sun in order to link the murder in Edmonton to events oversees (the beheading of two US journalists by the terrorist group ISIS). The link is disingenuous in its promotion of the notion that beheading innocent people is endemic in Islam. It is, moreover, dangerous in its consequences given the use made by the far right of Salvador’s religious identity to further stoke anti-Muslim hatred.
Lord Justice Leveson in his report on the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press, argued that the “the press can have significant influence over community relations and the way in which parts of society perceive other parts”.
In my view, The Sun front page last week was a disturbing example of a newspaper influencing community relations for the worse.
I welcome the Commission’s decision on whether a breach of the Code has occurred.