The Daily Express has turned into the modern equivalent of those people who used to walk around wearing large boards saying “The End of the World is Nigh”. Its front pages are full of alarmist stories about terrible things that are supposedly happening, or going to happen, or might possibly happen.
One front page headline last week read “Now Muslims demand full sharia law”, implying that this was a common demand of British Muslims. In fact, it was about a campaign by a tiny group of extremists that has been condemned by almost every sizeable Muslim organisation in the UK. The use of “now” subtly encourages the absurd notion sometimes put about that Muslims as a whole are making unreasonable “demands” from the rest of the population.
There is nothing surprising in this approach from a publication that has expected its readers to believe all manner of nonsense over the years – that Diana Spencer was murdered, that Britain is being invaded by Poles, or that the Daily Express can in any meaningful sense be described as a newspaper.
The Express claims that “up to 5,000” people might attend an extremist Islamic march at the end of the month, with no indication of where this figure comes from. Up to 5,000? That is, any number less than 5,000 – meaning that if only 100 people turn up, they will technically be right, but will still have given a misleading impression.
The next day, the Express quoted calls for the march to be banned because of “fears of violence” - violence that has no doubt been made more likely by the Express' decision to give a tiny group of fundamentalists the publicity they crave. They have also – not for the first time – encouraged prejudice and hostility to Muslims generally. This is irresponsible journalism at its worst.
We'll see what really happens when this deplorable march takes place. But however it turns out, we can be confident that the Daily Express will go on churning out more front pages full of manufactured outrage and dire predictions. Perhaps one day they will finally come to the point and produce a front page headline declaring “World End Nigh”.