From the Daily Mail: European human rights chiefs order the British press NOT to reveal when terrorists are Muslims in crackdown on freedom of speech

European human rights chiefs have told the British press it must not report when terrorists are Muslim.

The recommendations came as part of a list of 23 meddling demands to Theresa May’s government on how to run the media in an alarming threat to freedom speech.


In an audacious move, the report recommends the British media be barred from reporting the Muslim background of terrorists.

Snopes says that the Council of Europe is not ordering an order:

The allegation is taken from a report published a day earlier by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), which was commissioned by the Council of Europe to monitor human rights abuses. However, Bolton's group failed to note that the council is a separate organization from the European Union, and it issued a recommendation, not a mandate.

but the section about whether a ban is being advocated is somewhat equivocal:

While the ECRI did call for an "independent press regulator," it also stated that it did not want government officials "encroaching on [media outlets'] editorial independence the need to ensure that reporting does not contribute to creating an atmosphere of hostility and rejection towards various minority ethnic groups." It also said that media practices in the UK had already been criticized in the Leveson Inquiry, a government probe that took place after revelations that News International (owned by Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch) engaged in phone-hacking and other dubious practices.

From the ECRI report:

The Leveson Report, published in November 2012, pointed out that “certain parts of the press ride roughshod over others, both individuals and the public at large, without any justifiable public interest”, and that a significant number of news stories fail to meet standards of integrity and propriety and reflect a culture of “recklessness in prioritising sensational stories, almost irrespective of the harm these may cause and the rights of those who would be affected”. It also noted a “significant and reckless disregard for accuracy”. The report stated that the Press Complaints Commission was not independent and had failed its purpose, and recommended replacing it with a new, independent, self-regulatory body established by statute, with the dual roles of promoting high standards of journalism and protecting the rights of individuals, and with a range of sanctions available to it.

Is a ban on mentioning when a terrorist is Muslim being advocated by the Council of Europe?

  • 4
    It's the Daily Mail. Their articles should be considered suspect by default. Doubly so if the topic is Europe, as they have no fear of being economical with the truth if it means making the EU look bad.
    – GordonM
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 15:19
  • The title betrays the underlying message of the article, it should be patently obvious that it will contain a good number of fabrications and twisted interpretations. The Daily Mail is a propaganda paper. Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 11:52

1 Answer 1


No, describing their report as a "ban", is an exaggeration, regardless of if it is modified by "ordered", "recommended" or "advocated".

It is more like a suggestion to de-emphasize the "Muslim" aspect of terrorists.


Hate speech in some traditional media, particularly tabloid newspapers, continues to be a problem, with biased or ill-founded information disseminated about vulnerable groups, which may contribute to perpetuating stereotypes. An independent press regulator has not been set up. A particularly high number of violent racist incidents occurred in 2013 with a sharp rise in anti-Muslim violence.


The Sun newspaper has also published inflammatory anti-Muslim headlines, such as its front page of 23 November 2015 which read “1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis”, along with a picture of a masked terrorist wielding a knife.


ECRI regrets that a way has not been found to establish an independent press regulator and that, as a result, certain tabloids continue to publish offensive material, as indicated above. ECRI urges the media to take stock of the importance of responsible reporting, not only to avoid perpetuating prejudice and biased information, but also to avoid harm to targeted persons or vulnerable groups. ECRI considers that, in light of the fact that Muslims are increasingly under the spotlight as a result of recent ISIS-related terrorist acts around the world, fuelling prejudice against Muslims shows a reckless disregard, not only for the dignity of the great majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom, but also for their safety. In this context, it draws attention to a recent study by Teeside University [reference 50] suggesting that where the media stress the Muslim background of perpetrators of terrorist acts, and devote significant coverage to it, the violent backlash against Muslims is likely to be greater than in cases where the perpetrators’ motivation is downplayed or rejected in favour of alternative explanations. [footnote 51]

where footnote 51 is:

The study suggests that more restrained media reporting of the Sydney hostage situation in 2014, in which the hostage taker, who claimed to be acting on behalf of Islamic State, was swiftly and repeatedly identified as mentally ill, may have played a role in minimising the backlash against the Muslim community.


For example, while ECRI is satisfied that the large number of complaints against the anti-Muslim headline in the Sun newspaper (see § 41) were upheld by IPSO in respect of clause 1 (accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, it notes that clause 12 was not considered as there was no pejorative or prejudicial reference to any individual.

  • 2
    The question contains a number of different wordings of a claim about banning ("told the British press it must not report" versus "recommends the British media be barred" versus "issued a recommendation" versus "recommended replacing it with a new, independent, self-regulatory body established by statute" versus "advocated a ban". This quote is none of those. Are you saying this is the only relevant quote and all the claims (including Snopes') are untrue?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 17:35
  • 1
    @Oddthinking Snope's statement "the ECRI called for an independent press regulator" is true, ECRI implies that the regulator should cause the press to minimize references to Islam as a motivation, in favor of not stating a motivation or saying the person has a psychological problem. There is footnote 51 that I could add, and I haven't fully read the 83 page report, but I think I have the most relavent part of the report in the answer already
    – DavePhD
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 18:13
  • 2
    @Oddthinking see if answer is more clear now. I searched through the whole report for all instances of the strings "Muslim", "Islam", "media", "press" and "news". A lot of stuff snopes is talking about isn't from parts of the report that are discussing Muslims. And the other claims are highly exaggerating.
    – DavePhD
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 21:56
  • 1
    I'm not sure where the (50) shades of grey are coming from. It's a binary choice - you either state that the terrorist was Muslim, or not. You can't "de-emphasize" that without banning it as there's no middle ground, being a binary choice - the only way down from "1" is a "0".
    – user5341
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:19
  • 3
    Also, the answer would be more accurate if you presented a balanced picture, like the fact that at first glance, the Sun was actually publishing what seems to be an accurate figure, and ECRI simply disliked that the truth was being stated - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_attitudes_toward_terrorism#Polls
    – user5341
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:23

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