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Peter Oborne

Broadcast: Monday 07 July 2008 08:00 PM

On the third anniversary of the 7/7 London Bombings, Peter Oborne investigates whether these attacks and the fear of terrorism has fuelled the rise of violence, intolerance and hatred against British Muslims.

It Shouldn't Happen to a Muslim

On the third anniversary of the 7/7 London Bombings, political commentator and journalist Peter Oborne investigates whether these attacks and the fear of terrorism has fuelled the rise of violence, intolerance and hatred against British Muslims.

> Watch video clips

Look back at the live online debate that took place immediately after the programme.

He discovers that for many in the Muslim community, Britain is becoming a very frightening place. Dispatches meets a range of British Muslims who now live in daily fear, some because their homes are constantly vandalised, others because they or family have suffered devastatingly violent attacks.

An exclusive ICM opinion poll commissioned for Dispatches reveals the extent to which Muslims have experienced hostility, abuse and prejudice since 7/7. The same poll also reveals the general public's attitudes towards Islam and relations with Muslims.

Since the bombings there has understandably been much press coverage of the attacks and other terrorist incidents. Oborne investigates whether this coverage has had the side-effect of portraying Islam and British Muslims in a relentlessly negative fashion, leading to the demonization of a diverse group of two million people, most of whom have nothing to do with terrorism.

Dispatches commissioned a sophisticated study of press coverage from Cardiff University's School of Journalism. The research examined articles published in the British press over the last eight years and their depiction of Muslims and Islam. The troubling results of the study are revealed in the film.

Oborne also investigates the sources and accuracy of a rash of press stories that have entered the public consciousness - such as a London council 'banning Christmas' out of deference to Muslims and a 'Muslim hate mob' wrecking a house rented to returning soldiers from Afghanistan.

Oborne concludes that in today's climate the media say things about Islam and Muslims they would never say about other groups. When he replaces the word' 'Muslim' in some recent headlines with 'Jews', 'Blacks' and 'Gays' and shows them to members of the public, they find those headlines deeply offensive.

In his first interview since leaving the Metropolitan Police, the man who headed anti-terror operations on 7/7 and afterwards, former assistant commissioner Andy Hayman talks about the poor relations between Muslims and the security services.


As part of the Dispatches investigation 'It Shouldn't Happen To A Muslim', Channel 4 commissioned two surveys, the details of which are revealed below.

Omnibus: ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1006 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 21-22nd May 2008. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Muslim: ICM interviewed a sample of 500 Muslims by telephone on 22-28th May 2008. Muslims were previously interviewed on the ICM random telephone omnibus and agreed to be interviewed again at some point in the future. As they were initially selected at random, it implies that the sample of Muslims is itself representative of the Muslim community in Britain.

You can download both surveys in full, as well as the top line comparisons across the two surveys.

Download Muslim Poll
Download Omnibus Poll


Channel 4 also commissioned the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies to analyse the the Representation of British Muslims in the National Print News Media from 2000-2008. Download report


Peter Oborne and James Jones have written a pamphlet entitled 'Muslims Under Siege: Alienating Vulnerable Communities' to accompany 'It Shouldn't Happen to a Muslim'. Download pamphlet


Peter Oborne and the programme makers discussed issues raised in the programme. Look back at the debate

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