Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

  1. Twitter's inadequate action over rape threats is itself an abuse (Guardian)
    Social media users should act to take back Twitter, writes Labour MP Stella Creasy.
  2. Europe ought to let its hopeless causes go bankrupt (Financial Times)
    The cure for the crisis is a dose of American-style tough love, writes Martin Sandbu
  3. I'm proud of our welfare reforms (Guardian)
    I don't apologise for trying to make the welfare state fair – it's something only this government can do, writes the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith.
  4. Mo’s breaking records, but other migrants are breaking the law (Telegraph)
    Immigrants have a lot to offer Britain, but those here illegally have no right to remain, writes Boris Johnson.
  5. Trolls, Caroline Criado-Perez, and how to tackle the dark side of Twitter (Independent)
    The site should make it easier for users to report rape and death threats, writes Owen Jones.
  6. Europe’s 'recovery’ is a conjuring trick (Telegraph)
    The eurozone has had a good year – on paper. But it is crippled by too much debt to survive intact, says Jeff Randall
  7. At last internet trolls must face the real world (Times)
    Fury over Twitter abuse of the Jane Austen banknote campaigner shows how online behaviour is having to change, writes Libby Purves.
  8. There has been no good news for Britain’s army of underemployed workers (Independent)
    The underemployment rate rose more quickly than the unemployment rate in Q1 2013, writes David Blanchflower
  9. Five ways to widen the Tory appeal and win (Times)
    Victory in 2015 is possible if the party can rediscover its popular touch with these pledges to lower-income voters, says Tim Montgomerie
  10. West needs to criticise Putin – but not support his rivals (Financial Times)
    It is not our business to pick sides in Russia’s political battles, writes Anatol Lieven.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Felipe Araujo
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Manchester's Muslim community under siege: "We are part of the fabric of this nation"

As the investigation into last week's bombing continues, familiar media narratives about Islam conflict with the city's support for its Muslim population.

“You guys only come when something like this happens,” said one of the worshippers at Manchester's Victoria Park Mosque, visibly annoyed at the unusual commotion. Four days after the attack that killed 22 people, this congregation, along with many others around the city, is under a microscope.

During Friday prayers, some of the world’s media came looking for answers. On the eve of Ramadan, the dark shadow of terrorism looms large over most mosques in Manchester and beyond.

“People who do this kind of thing are no Muslims,” one man tells me.

It’s a routine that has become all too familiar to mosque goers in the immediate aftermath of a major terror attack. In spite of reassurances from authorities and the government, Muslims in this city of 600,000 feel under siege. 

“The media likes to portray us as an add-on, an addition to society,” Imam Irfan Christi tells me. “I would like to remind people that in World War I and World War II Muslims fought for this nation. We are part of the fabric of this great nation that we are.”

On Wednesday, soon after it was revealed the perpetrator of last Monday’s attack, Salman Ramadan Abedi, worshipped at the Manchester Islamic Centre in the affluent area of Didsbury, the centre was under police guard, with very few people allowed in. Outside, with the media was impatiently waiting, a young man was giving interviews to whoever was interested.

“Tell me, what is the difference between a British plane dropping bombs on a school in Syria and a young man going into a concert and blowing himself up,” he asked rhetorically. “Do you support terrorists, then?” one female reporter retorted. 

When mosque officials finally came out, they read from a written statement. No questions were allowed. 

“Some media reports have reported that the bomber worked at the Manchester Islamic Centre. This is not true,” said the director of the centre’s trustees, Mohammad el-Khayat. “We express concern that a very small section of the media are manufacturing stories.”

Annoyed by the lack of information and under pressure from pushy editors, eager for a sexy headline, the desperation on the reporters’ faces was visible. They wanted something, from anyone, who had  even if a flimsy connection to the local Muslim community or the mosque. 

Two of them turned to me. With curly hair and black skin, in their heads I was the perfect fit for what a Muslim was supposed to look like.

"Excuse me, mate, are you from the mosque, can I ask you a couple of questions,” they asked. “What about?,” I said. "Well, you are a Muslim, right?" I laughed. The reporter walked away.

At the Victoria Park Mosque on Friday, Imam Christi dedicated a large portion of his sermon condemning last Monday’s tragedy. But he was also forced to once again defend his religion and its followers, saying Islam is about peace and that nowhere in the Koran it says Muslims should pursue jihad.

“The Koran has come to cure people. It has come to guide people. It has come to give harmony in society,” he said. “And yet that same Koran is being described as blood thirsty? Yet that same Koran is being abused to justify terror and violence. Who de we take our Islam from?”

In spite of opening its doors to the world’s media, mosques in Britain’s major cities know they can do very little to change a narrative they believe discriminates against Muslims. They seem to feel that the very presence of reporters in these places every time a terror attack happens reveals an agenda.

Despite this, on the streets of Manchester it has proved difficult to find anyone who had a bad thing to say about Islam and the city’s Muslim community. Messages of unity were visible all over town. One taxi driver, a white working-class British man, warned me to not believe anything I read in the media.

“Half of my friends are British Muslims,” he said even before asked. “ These people that say Islam is about terrorism have no idea what they are talking about.”

Felipe Araujo is a freelance journalist based in London. He writes about race, culture and sports. He covered the Rio Olympics and Paralympics on the ground for the New Statesman. He tweets @felipethejourno.

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