The right-wing media has targeted Channel 4 News reporter Assed Baig over tweets he made in 2011 calling other Muslims “House Muslims” and “coconuts.”
Articles by right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes and the notoriously Islamophobic Daily Mail newspaper have apparently forced Channel 4 News to issue a “reminder” to Baig of his duty to be fair and impartial.
Baig is widely considered in the Muslim community as one of the few Muslim journalists working in the mainstream who hasn’t sold out his values and has remained close to the grassroots.
His use of the terms “House Muslim” and “coconut” will not surprise or shock most in the Muslim community because they are widely used as political (not racial) slurs. However, many non-Muslims (who have probably never experienced racism in their lives and have little conception about what it really is) consider the terms to be racist.
5Pillars has also learned that certain “House Muslims” and “coconuts” within the Muslim community most likely alerted the right-wing media to Baig’s tweets (which were made before he joined Channel 4 News) because they are working hand-in-glove with Islamophobes to attack influential Muslim activists.
The Guido Fawkes blog said yesterday that Baig had “sent a string of vulgar racially-charged epithets.”
It reported: “Investigative journalist Assed Baig attacked moderate Muslims with racial terms including ‘uncle Tom’ and ‘house Muslim,’ even claiming that British Muslims who attend Islamic events hosted by the government are ‘Uncle Toms’, a derogatory phrase meaning a black person who is obedient to whites.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported yesterday that Baig had been “reprimanded” by the broadcaster.
In its article Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, a Government-backed group which tracks anti-Muslim crimes, told MailOnline: “The term house Muslim effectively is synonymous with someone using the N-word. It means that people are subservient to a white master or a power structure. We think it actually has some racial connotations to it and also in many instances is used to provide a ‘them and us.’
A Channel 4 News spokesman told MailOnline: “We are aware of the tweets in question by Assad Baig which pre-date his employment by Channel 4 News. They are clearly a personal view relating to that particular period in time. However, he has been reminded of his responsibilities as a journalist to be fair and impartial when representing Channel 4 News at all times.”
On the other hand, Baig has found plenty of support online from Muslim community activists who have commended him for a series of reports which gave voice to Muslim concerns about Islamophobia and British foreign policy.
Many have concluded that this attack on him is a personal vendetta orchestrated by “native informants” in the Muslim community who have used the right-wing Islamophobic media as means to hurt him.
Baig himself has called the articles a coordinated attempt to get him sacked.
In a Facebook post this morning he said: “Many of you know that this isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve been targeted with a campaign to shut me down (it’s becoming a pattern now lol) but what is always heartwarming is the number of people that have my back. This is a coordinated campaign to try and get me sacked. Some out there don’t like the work I’ve been producing and because they can’t criticise the work they go for the messenger. I will never stop speaking truth to power. I’m far from perfect and I do make mistakes. But this is about shutting down voices these people don’t like to hear.”