This is yet another issue which I didn’t want to write about, but now feel compelled. The Welsh media is currently pulling its hair out over the news that a Muslim schoolteacher was denied entry to the U.S while on a school trip with students from my own former Comprehensive school. The story has been covered by WalesOnline and the South Wales Evening Post but in a very peculiar way.
Before I get on to criticisms of the two pieces linked above and the general response from the Welsh public, or at least those I have seen, let me say the following. The treatment of the teacher in question, Juhel Miah, was definitely inadequate. He was forced to stay in a grubby hotel while Llangatwg Comprehensive School organised his flight back to the UK. This is terrible and I have nothing but sympathy for him and the embarrassment which he describes. I also have some sympathy with the methods used to search him, which left him claiming he had been “treated like a criminal”. However, the threat of terrorism is such that we now come to expect such treatment when suspected of something before boarding a plane.
My objection to what has been written is the misleading nature with which both pieces use the man’s faith. He is described as a ‘Muslim Schoolteacher’, obviously implying that his faith has some relevance to the issue. Already a number of people in Wales have looked at the headlines and been duped into believing that his faith was relevant. However, both pieces then go on to state that “the reason for the US refusing entry to Mr Miah is currently unclear.”. Effectively, we don’t know.
We can assume, as many have done, that it did have something to do with his faith, but that’s what it is, an assumption, and this assumption was clearly made by the authors of both pieces. The piece published by WalesOnline was also peculiar in that it heralded a large picture of Donald Trump, no doubt aiming at linking this problem to that of his so-called ‘Muslim ban’, despite both pieces pointing out that Donald Trump’s 90 day travel suspension, targeting 7 countries earmarked by security services as having the highest risk to the U.S population has been suspended by a U.S court, thus could not be responsible for what had happened. His picture was later removed, obviously showing that somebody felt it necessary for the sake of integrity.
This is not a defence of Trump, or of his policies. It is a defence of evidence based conclusions and journalistic standards. If evidence is brought forward that he was refused entry because of his faith, I will be the first to condemn it. However, no such evidence is forthcoming. I very much wish that publications like WalesOnline and the Evening Post would opt for evidence based conclusions above lazy and misleading assumptions. This seems just another example of online media trying to pump news out to the world as quickly as possible, without stopping to think about what they are actually saying. A click-bait bonanza.