A Sikh charity has called on journalists to stop using the word “Asian” to describe grooming gangs in cases like Rotherham and Telford.
The Network of Sikh Organisations said the term was “vague and expansive” during a meeting with staff at press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
It has also published a guide for journalists reporting on Sikhism and the community, explaining the basics of the religion as well as “issues and controversies” that have faced Sikhs.
The guide, published in June, says: “British Sikh and Hindu groups have consistently objected to the use of the word ‘Asian’ to describe those convicted in sexual grooming gang cases like in Rochdale, Rotherham, Oxford and Telford.”
An NSO spokesperson told Press Gazette that the charity wanted the “misleading practice” stopped altogether.
Writing a guest blog for IPSO earlier this week, NSO deputy director Hardeep Singh added that Sikh identity had “often been misunderstood” since the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York.
He said it had been “conflated with the appearance of Islamists like Osama bin Laden and also with grooming gang criminal cases like Rochdale and Rotherham”.
Singh also said the NSO guide came about following a meeting with IPSO in July 2017, forming part of the regulator’s broader engagement with faith communities.
He said: “At the time, we discussed some of the themes now explored in the guide including the ongoing challenge journalists have in sourcing appropriate comment from so-called ‘community leaders’, the use of the vague and expansive term ‘Asian’, and the consequences of ‘Islamophobia’ on other groups like Sikhs, who often find themselves marginalised in press coverage.”
The reporting guide is hosted on the IPSO website, but is separate from the regulator’s Editors’ Code of Practice, meaning journalists are not obliged to follow its recommendations.