One searches in vain on the Guardian website for the name Nissar Hussain. This is odd because the newspaper seems to have spent the past few months engaged in a campaign against hate. Virtually every day there is a column or leader grimly claiming that the vote for Brexit has unleashed a spate of hate. Its archives brim with news stories trying to infer a causal link between Brexit and a reported rise in hate crime – even to the point of absurdity. Last month, the paper carried a story claiming that there had been a 147 per cent rise in homophobic attacks since Brexit. Given that homosexuality didn’t feature at all as an issue in the referendum campaign, you wonder why the headline-writer decided to link it with Brexit rather than saying reported attacks had increased in recent months – isn’t that exactly the kind of nod and wink which the Guardian deplores in tabloid headlines?
Nissar Hussain, though, doesn’t get a look in because he doesn’t quite fit the narrative of a society, peacefully living as part of the EU, which is then ripped apart when a referendum unleashes the inner emotions of white, closet fascists. Nissar is not a victim of a gang of Brexiteers armed with baseball bats who go out looking for people wearing ‘I love EU’ badges. He is a former muslim who converted to Christianity 20 years ago and who, for the past few years, has been subjected to threats and attacks. He has already had to move house once. Last November, he was attacked in the street by louts who left him with a broken kneecap and a fractured forearm. Last Thursday, police had to move him to a safe house outside Yorkshire.
That someone in Britain can be subjected to a hate campaign, over so many years and by different people, based purely on their choice of religion is shocking. But not apparently newsworthy enough to qualify for coverage in the Guardian. Neither does the BBC appear to consider Nissar Hussain’s case to be newsworthy – you had to read the Mail, the Telegraph or the Mirror to find out about it.
In the Guardian mentality, you cannot carry a story of an ex-muslim persecuted for his apostasy for fear of inspiring hate against muslims. Thus a genuine case of hate crime is ignored on the grounds it could lead to other, imagined hate crimes. It is exactly the same mentality which caused police and social workers in Rotherham and Rochdale to overlook the mass sexual abuse of under age girls. They could see that this form of abuse was being carried out mostly men of Pakistan heritage and didn’t like to think of the consequences of having to make so many arrests among an ethnic minority. It is the same mentality, too, which has led to forced marriages being overlooked.
I wouldn’t mind so much the Guardian ignoring a story about a man attacked for his apostasy if it didn’t go about posing as a newspaper of record and endlessly condemning tabloids for pursuing a skewed news agenda about migrants and minorities. The Guardian is no less skewed in its own coverage. It picks and chooses what to cover according to what it thinks will promote its left-liberal and militantly anti-Brexit view of the world. Thus it sees hate in anti-EU sentiment, hate in criticism of the judges who made the ruling on article 50, hate in any piece of journalism which is less than wholly positive about migration. Yet when faced with a genuine case of hate it fails to see the story at all.