The publishing of a survey taken in support of upcoming Channel 4 feature What British Muslims Really Think has already set the tabloid press off on a series of rants about how all those Scary Muslims (tm) don’t fit in, are allegedly fomenting acts of terror, and refuse to venture down the Rub-A-Dub and get Elephant’s Trunk And Mozart like normal people are supposed to do. But there is a problem with both survey and programme.unfunny and talentless churnalist Richard Littlejohn, and disgraced former Sun editor Kelvin McFilth, both of them Muslim bashers of no fixed bigotry. The survey of Muslim attitudes was clearly to their taste. And it is that survey that is now coming under fire for the way it was performed.
Maha Akeel, in a post for Independent Voices, has told that “Phillips’ poll only interviewed Muslims from areas of Britain which are at least 20 per cent Muslim, though there is no explanation of what constitutes an ‘area’ - a street, an apartment building, a neighbourhood, a city? The vast majority of British Muslims, let's remember, do not live in areas that are 20 per cent Muslim”. Why this criterion?
As Ms Akeel goes on to point out, “A more honest write up of the survey would have been titled, 'What do British Muslims living in marginalised Muslim ghettoes really think? … A more meaningful and useful study would compare Muslims to other Britons within similar areas of the country, or Muslims with other faith communities”. This deliberate skewing of the survey sample should have rung alarm bells with Channel 4.
But then, Phillips and that broadcaster go back a long way: he was the one they turned to in the wake of the Celebrity Big Brother row over the treatment of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty back in 2008. He provided paid consultancy via his own firm when still chair of the EHRC. An internal review suggested he was guilty of a conflict of interest.
Michael Rubinstein observed “To act for part of the time as the regulator, and also to run a profit-making business advising the regulated, is very different … Some of the organisations under consideration may be clients of Mr Phillips's consultancy. How will this affect the views of Commission staff who have to propose priorities for action?”
And it got worse: when the EHRC board met in Cardiff in July 2008, “Most commissioners attended a dinner at Cardiff’s Village Hotel on July 16 with guest of honour, Wales’s Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones. Mr Phillips did not attend the dinner … Some commissioners were surprised to learn later that he had spent the evening addressing a Channel 4 meeting in London on the findings of his privately commissioned research on race equality for them”. Another potential conflict of interest.
The impression is given that Trevor Phillips and Channel 4 may be a little too close for the broadcaster’s comfort. The methodology of the poll on Muslim attitudes appears highly questionable. Both of those together, and the glee from the Pundit Establishment’s Muslim bashers, do not look good.