Our free and fearless press, so its defenders like to tell us, is not bigoted, not racist, not sexist and misogynistic, and most definitely is not trying to frighten its readers by peddling scare stories about Scary Muslims™. The problem is that a succession of misleading and even downright untrue articles, from not only the red-tops, but also mid-market tabloids and even supposedly quality papers, shows that these are empty protestations.
We had the Birmingham schools “Trojan Horse” claim, courtesy of Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan, which turned out to be a false scare story. There was no “Trojan Horse” plot, and hundreds, if not thousands, of pupils had their education seriously disrupted to no purpose. The Times’ “Muslim Foster Parents” scare turned out to be baseless. And now has come the news of two more made-up Muslim bashing stories.
That news has come after the conclusion of legal actions against the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, and the increasingly wayward Mail on Sunday, with the former now admitting that it wrongly went after a Muslim Scout Leader.
The apology tells the whole sorry story. “In articles published by the Telegraph online on 18 January 2019 and Daily Telegraph on 19 January 2019 we wrongly reported that the police were investigating Ahammed Hussain, the Leader of the Scout Group at the Lewisham Islamic Centre, who, we said, had segregated the Scout group by gender in breach of the Scouts Association rules, and had promoted Muslim values and extremist views to scout members in ways that contradicted the Scouts commitment to British values and gave rise to safeguarding concerns”. So what was the reality?
“We accept Ahammed Hussain did not conduct himself in the ways suggested, that at no point did the police investigate him, and that it is not in breach of Scouts Association rules to separate the children by gender and that Ahammed Hussain did not breach Scout rules”. Only took them just over a year to own up. And there was more.
“Further, the articles said that Ahammed Hussain had links to extremist Muslim Groups that promoted terrorism and anti-Semitism, and could have suggested that he supported those views and encouraged their dissemination. We now accept that this was wrong and that Mr Hussain has never supported or promoted terrorism, or been anti-Semitic”.
Yes, throw in the obligatory accusation of Muslim anti-Semitism too. As Mark di Stefano of BuzzFeed News observed, “eeeeshhhh this sounds expensive”. What really was expensive was the smearing of a Muslim local Government official by the MoS. We know how expensive not from the MoS, but from the Guardian.
The latter has told that the MoS “has agreed to pay £180,000 in damages to a former minicab licensing officer after the newspaper falsely accused him of acting as a ‘fixer’ for paedophile taxi drivers in Rochdale”. Let’s put that in perspective: when Jewish News lost a defamation action brought by Sayeeda Warsi over an article by Islamophobic bigot Richard Kemp, damages were set at £20,000. That’s how bad the MoS article was.
In addition to that, the MoS is on the hook for a cool million in legal fees. Which is what you get for seeing a Muslim, seeing minicab drivers, seeing grooming gangs, and deciding to connect the three for the sheer hell of it. The press is totally out of control.
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