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June 29, 2005

Fanning the flames

by Feòrag

United States/United Kingdom: It's interesting to see how some of the less respectable elements of the right choose to distort the story about a Metropolitan Police report concerning two very different problems - the unique case of Adam, a boy whose dismembered body was found in the Thames and about whom absolutely nothing is known despite years of investigation, and of the abuse of children whose guardian believe them to be witches, or posessed by demons (a grand total of two cases in the UK).

Let us compare and contrast a report in The Independent with Jim Kouri's retelling of it at MichNews.com.

The original article reads surprisingly like something from one of the Sunday tabloids, it has to be admitted, opening with the dramatic claim that African boys are being smuggled into Britain as intended human sacrifices, a report commissioned by the Metropolitan Police has revealed, which becomes the Metropolitan Police reports that children are being trafficked from Africa and then abused -- even killed -- as part of sacrificial ceremonies in the UK once it's crossed the Atlantic.

Kouri decides to play down certain aspects of the report's findings,observing that police officials suspect children are being beaten and even murdered because their parents and caregivers believe them to be possessed by evil spirits (empahis mine), whereas there have been two convictions of this nature, as opposed to one suspected case of a child brought from Africa to be killed. The only mention of the precise religious background to the alleged crimes is from a part on rogue churches:

The report also highlighted concerns about church pastors identifying children as witches, who then suffer violence at the hands of their own parents. The report claims these pastors and their churches are a lucrative business operating throughout the UK, Europe and Africa.

The Independent reminds us that the people behind the alleged crimes consider themselves to be Christians, and fundamentalist ones at that:

The children are brought to London and offered up in blood rituals at the behest of fundamentalist sects to combat evil spirits. Police believe that the boys, considered valuable because they are "unblemished", can be bought for as little as £10 in Africa.

After a few paragraphs full of dramatic tales of witchcraft, and then coverage of the recent Child B case, the article ends. But the Independent original doesn't - it continues with a more sceptical tone:

But Dr William Les Henry, a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmith's College, said that there was an element of racism to be seen in the report.

He said: The model that they're based on, they always seem to base their models on the fact that Africans are less civilised, less rational, so their whole systems of rationality are irrational.

Nor did Kouri bother to read any more than the one article, especially not the one pubished in The Guardian a week or so later - the one entitled How media whipped up a racist witch-hunt. All a bit rum for a site that claims to offer Honest News & Commentary.

Children Sacrificed During Religious Rituals in United Kingdom - MichNews, 28th June 2005; 'African boys are brought to Britain to be sacrificed' - The Independent, 17th June 2005. See also Media in moral panic shocker! - The Pagan Prattle, 26th June 2005 for coverage of the Guardian article.

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Posted in Hypocrisy at 18:16. Last modified on September 28 2006 at 23:43.
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