This week, our free and fearless press has been hot on the case of a 5-year-old girl who was placed into foster care. This seems a routine and innocuous story to major on, until it is also revealed that the girl was white and Christian, and the foster families - two of them - were allegedly Scary Muslims (tm). What also makes this interesting is that the story was broken by a reporter whose name might be expected to give it significant credibility.
Placed becomes Forced, with added Plight
That reporter was Andrew Norfolk, who had previously garnered some cachet through his work on the Rotherham grooming affair. So putting his name on the by-line immediately told readers not only that they should take the story seriously, but also that they could be confident in the reliability of the reportage.
The Times, which first ran the story, is behind a paywall, but the Mail characteristically lifted the copy: this reveals the real “disturbing questions” about the whole saga. Let’s start at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start.
“The parents of a Christian five-year-old forced to live with Muslim foster carers allegedly 'begged' a council to allow her to live with her grandmother”. Allegedly. The claim could not be stood up.
“The placements were arranged by Tower Hamlets council in east London, where children's services were criticised by Ofsted earlier this year”. This is dog-whistle code for Scary Muslims (tm). It is also telling readers the fostering decision was wrong.
“The council has refused to allow the girl to be placed into the temporary care of her grandmother, according to The Times”. No second source? Hmmm.
“Social workers said the child sobbed and begged not to be returned to one foster mother - who wore a face veil in public - as the household spoke no English”. Tower Hamlets council cannot discuss the case publicly, for obvious reasons, but have disputed the claim that the family did not speak English. Moreover, “It said the girl had been placed with an English-speaking, mixed-race family”. What was that about a “Muslim family”?
Must leave Muslims. Times praised. Council failure
Still, back to the Mail: “She also claimed her foster carer had said she should learn Arabic and had taken away her Christian cross necklace, The Times reported”. She claimed. The Times reported. Is all of this hearsay and single sourced?
“The child - who is white, was born in Britain and has a UK passport - was allegedly not allowed to eat a spaghetti carbonara prepared by her birth mother because it contained bacon”. Allegedly again. A lot of hedging, even for the Mail.
“She was said to have told her biological mother 'European women are stupid and alcoholic' and 'Christmas and Easter are stupid', prompting questions over cultural attitudes in her foster homes”. Was said to have told.
“Inspectors rated the council's children's services 'inadequate' and said there was an 'entrenched culture of non-compliance with basic social work standards’”. Another dog whistle to tell readers that whatever Tower Hamlets did was wrong.
So much for the allegations, many of which are hearsay and not backed up by the second source one might expect a Times reporter to have sought out - now we come to the usual parade of Tory MPs ready to shoot their mouths off for a little free publicity.
Mail bang to rights Photoshopping (h/t @DMReporter)
“Philip Hollobone, Tory MP for Kettering, said: 'What if it were a Muslim girl being looked after by a Christian couple and they insisted she deny her Muslim upbringing and become a Christian – how would the Muslim community feel about that?’” What Hollobone knows all too well is that whatever the Muslim community felt about that, such a story would not find its way into the Times, and certainly not the Mail. Not the Mail’s kind of people.
“Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, added”. That’s the whole problem - Andrew Bridgen is always there to add his two penn’orth.
And with that it was back to the nudge-and-wink: “The girl's biological mother was said to be horrified by her daughter's foster placements and their effect on the child … The girl was initially put in a household where her foster mother reportedly wore a niqab”.
Only after all of that does anyone bother to ask the question: “It was not clear why the girl was taken into care earlier this year”. Didn’t Norfolk, or any of those sounding off about the story, bother to ask? The responsibility on the council is to ensure the safety of the child. Fostering, as Esmat Jeraj has pointed out, is a complex business. There are all manner of reasons why the girl was taken into care, none of which have been raised as possibilities, let alone examined by the press.
So another question must be put: what is the motivation of the press in running this story? The thought enters that the Murdoch press, which has such a grim record of crude and bigoted Islamophobia at the Times’ downmarket sister title the Sun, has used the reputation of Andrew Norfolk to inflate a story about a temporary foster placement to combine an attack on an under-fire council with more Muslim bashing.
The problem the Times has in dissociating itself from such a conclusion is that the Mail most certainly has used the story that way: for the Dacre doggies, the dead giveaway came when they were caught crudely Photoshopping a stock photo of a woman in Islamic dress to include a full face veil.
What is all too clear from the reporting of the case is that readers of a supposedly upmarket newspaper have been given a highly selective account of something that the paper’s editorial staff would know to be potentially highly sensitive - and open to misinterpretation by those seeking to demonise minority communities.
That makes the whole affair yet another example of irresponsible journalism and blatant political opportunism, the combination of which serves no purpose except to fuel the egos of politicians and editors. And that’s not good enough.
[A judge has now ruled that the girl should live, for the time being, with a family member]
Wow Tim your hatred of the Murdoch titles have really clouded your views - even the Guardian won't defend this ridiculous decision!
We both know there are so many reporting restrictions in place that newspapers have to cover themselves with 'allegedly'
Considering the judge's ruling this morning, it's clear the council made an error with this placement.
Does it matter whether it was a Murdoch or a Rothermere propaganda clerk? Or any of the broadcast versions?
They're all far right lying cunts to a man and woman.
'ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE IN HUMILIATING U-TURN.
Mail Crusade Saves Christian Child from Halal Horror'.
When did the court case reported today start (I bet it wasn't *after* Norfolk's piece)? Was that actually how Norfolk found out about the girl? Why was the court case not mentioned in the Times or the Mail?
Spot on Tim. So much of this is hearsay, 'reporting' what a 5 year old is supposed to have said. I also read the child was removed from the mother as she wasn't being cared for. Presumably she's been placed with grandmother now as Social Services have checked out that's a safe place.
Why would the mother be making carbonara (with bacon) and sending it to the child in a foster place?
As we are not party to what was actually discussed in court, we don't know the full story there either. Again, we have second hand accounts.
I don't believe the Murdoch press or the Mail is being honest here. I agree, just stirring it.
And an update in the Guardian.
"A council at the heart of a fostering row in which it was claimed that an English-speaking child was placed with a family whose use of Arabic confused her said that the five-year-old had in fact been placed with an English-speaking family of mixed race.
Tower Hamlets council said the placement was a temporary measure and hit out at what it said were errors in the reporting of a highly sensitive fostering case.
The Times had published an article on Monday after seeing confidential local authority reports, in which a social services supervisor describes the child sobbing and begging not to be returned to one foster carer because “they don’t speak English”.
The reports state that the supervisor heard the girl, who at times was “very distressed”, claiming that the foster carer removed her necklace with a crucifix on it. The paper reported that she was a “white Christian child” who had been placed with two Muslim households in London over the past six months.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets council said: “While we cannot go into details of a case that would identify a child in foster care, there are inaccuracies in the reporting of it. For example, the child is in fact fostered by an English-speaking family of mixed race in this temporary placement. We would like to give more details but we are legally restricted to do so.”
They added: “We have always been working towards the child being looked after by a family member and we continue to do so.”
The Times reported in its Wednesday edition that the girl at the centre of the row had been removed from her Muslim foster parents and taken to her grandmother’s home following a hearing at a family court on Tuesday.
Reports about the fostering have been seized upon by far-right activists including the former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, as well as Britain First and the EDL."
It's clear you don't know much about fostering. It's been stated this was a temporary placement and not for any length of time. As the other anonymous has said, the grandmother had to be checked out that she will be a safe placement, which she now has and the child has gone to live with her.
It is impossible to become a foster carer and not speak English. There is a very through and complex vetting procedure to go through which takes months, if you can't speak or understand English you won't get very far. You also have to agree to respect a child's cultural needs and if a child from another religion comes to the foster carer, their religious needs must be met. A child without religion must not be included in a foster carer's religion unless it has been discussed with the child's social worker. (e.g. attending a wedding, Christmas Day Mass etc.)
A child would never, ever, be left with a foster carer if they are "begging" to be taken away.
I was a foster carer (and fostered Muslim children) and can write pages and pages to prove this so called bit of journalism is a load of cobblers but I haven't got all day. I will just end with this: beware the vindictive parent who is furious their child has been taken into care.
We don't know why this particular foster placement was chosen or the reasons for the child to be placed in foster care in the first place. Foster placements can be very difficult as issues to be considered include geographical placement (to be safely away from the risks that led to being fostered) and training that the foster parents have had. Ideally vulnerable children should be placed with a family of the same culture but it really isn't always possible especially at short notice. When a child is at risk, there is no time to recruit foster carers, they need to be moved asap. Many mixed emergency placements work out absolutely fine. I've certainly worked with White families providing good placements for BME children and Black families taking in white children with complex issues. Of course the search should always continue for a cultural match but this means moving the child or vulnerable adult again who may have bonded with their placement. My own Black Grandmother fostered 3 white children of the same family as she was the only one available, away from their original area, had enough rooms, was trained in their specific issues and would prevent them being split up.
What's sad is that this could have been a good discussion on fostering and the lack of placements.
This is the worst sort of 'story' as the papers know full well that the accused organisation can in no way dispute what is said, give the full facts or reveal any details of the circumstances of the individual case.
It also shows that once again August is a quiet month and making up stories is the only way to fill the pages.
@Ann Kelly - there's a world of difference between being able to 'speak and understand' English, and choosing to speak English in your own home or to your own family.
Keep on believing any old rubbish you read in the papers Anonymous.
Believing someone would Foster a child then refuse to speak English around them......WTF?
As suspected, the Times / Mail story was a complete load of old cobblers.
Mother of 'Christian' child in Islamic foster row was from Muslim family, court papers show
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/30/mother-christian-child-islamic-foster-row-muslim-family-court/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_tw … via @telegraphnews
And here the Court Order from Tuesday 29th August which has been allowed to be published so the truth of the case can come out. NB the Times reporter was allowed to attend. Look forward now to an update & correction shall we?
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