Chicago Group Censors Questions For London’s Muslim Mayor

Chicago Group Censors Questions For London’s Muslim Mayor

Last week, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted London’s newly elected mayor, Sadiq Khan, the city’s first Muslim to hold that office. It was his first official visit to the United States. To engage the audience, the CCGA allowed the public to pose questions online and vote on them. The moderator would ask Khan the questions that received the most votes. But apparently there are some questions that it’s just not polite to ask. Specifically, regarding the notorious Rotherham sex ring scandal.

It came to The Federalist’s attention that someone submitted the following question to the CCGA’s online Q&A for Khan: “What’s your opinion about the cover-up of racist rape gangs targeting white children in Rotherham??” Despite receiving the most votes, the Rotherham question mysteriously disappeared from the website.

As a quick reminder, the Rotherham scandal refers to a gang of men of Pakistani origin who groomed, abused, and prostituted young white girls for two decades. In 2014, the story broke that British authorities had been aware of these criminal activities for years and had done nothing about them for fear of being accused of racism or Islamaphobia. Despite outrage when these facts first came to light, it now appears little has been done in the last two years to shut down the operation.

According to the individual who posted the Rotherham question, it was taken down three times despite receiving more votes than any other question before being removed. Here’s a screen shot of the Q&A forum when the question was in the lead with 10 votes (it eventually garnered 17 votes before being taken down):

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After being alerted to this at 3:25 p.m. on the day of the event, I took a screenshot showing that the question was indeed no longer on the CCGA website:

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I called the CCGA, and a spokesman confirmed he had spoken to the individual who had posted the question about the Rotherham scandal. The CCGA was looking into the issue, he said, but had not yet “gotten to the bottom of it.” At 6 p.m., 15 minutes before the event began, the CCGA representative emailed me, writing, “I looked into your question. It was a mistake. It is back up.”

The CCGA had indeed put the Rotherham question back up; however, by that time, the event was already beginning. The question only received three votes and was in seventh place (the list is divided between two screen shots):

Chicago Council on Global Affairs / ChicagoCouncil.orgoprea4

Amazingly, the four questions that had originally followed the Rotherham question when it was in the lead were not “mistakenly” taken down. They remained on the forum and three of them were among the top four questions online when the event began. All were posed to Khan. The Rotherham question was not.

The CCGA appears to have censored questions the public submitted—it’s difficult to interpret this any other way. What are the chances that the only question that was removed, the top question, dealt with the very uncomfortable fact that British officials turned a blind eye to crimes committed by Muslims?

If the question had been off-topic, perhaps it would be understandable to take it down. If that were the case, the CCGA had the opportunity to say as much to me on the phone and by email. But instead they put the question back up, tacitly acknowledging that it was on-topic.

In fact, the event, titled “The Breakdown of Social Integration-the Challenge of our Age,” was primarily focused on immigration and integration. Most of the questions that made it through CCGA scrutiny had to do with these themes. So wouldn’t it make sense to talk about how government officials aren’t enforcing laws and reporting crimes in immigrant communities out of fear of being called Islamaphobic? Ensuring that immigrants don’t become a protected class is surely an important component in integrating immigrants into British society that merits discussion.

It would have been equally interesting to ask Khan what he thinks about the counterterrorism officer, a Muslim woman, who reported extremist, sexist, and racist comments from fellow Muslim officers at the London Metropolitan Police. What should be done about her superiors who told her not to pursue her report because it would harm her career advancement?

This is what’s on peoples’ minds. They want to know what the first Muslim mayor of London thinks about the fact that the British government is so afraid of being seen as racist that it’s ignoring problems among British Muslims. People want to see whether he can grapple with real complications with Muslim integration and the dominating political correctness that accompanies any discussion of it. They want to know whether he’s going to give Muslims special treatment.

Unfortunately, the CCGA denied him the chance to answer.

Megan G. Oprea is editor of the foreign policy newsletter INBOUND. She holds a PhD in French linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. You can follow her on Twitter here.
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