British Muslims Condemn Anti-Muslim Bigotry Printed in the Daily Mail

February 22, 2014

 

Leading British Muslim and interfaith organisations today wrote to Paul Dacre, the Editor of the Daily Mail condemning an article by columnist Richard Littlejohn that deployed hateful Muslim stereotypes. The column purports to criticise an individual but instead uses slurs commonly found in racist and far-right websites to make its point.

Entitled “Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland”, the article satirises a community event that is to be held at the theme park, organised through a private group booking. Mr Littlejohn uses hateful tropes to fill his article. Mr Littlejohn jokes that the group, which will in real life have parents and children in attendance, will travel to Legoland in a coach “…packed with explosives stops in Parliament Square. As Big Ben strikes ten, driver will blow himself up”.

As a result of Mr Littlejohn’s article, far-right groups are threatening to turn up at Legoland, thus causing distress to the children present.

The letter is signed by a cross-section of British Muslims. It is in no way a defence of the views attributed to the person Mr Littlejohn criticises, but rather a challenge to our media not to accept such hateful language in our discourse.

 

The letter reads:

Dear Mr Dacre,

We write to express our condemnation of a recent article published by Richard Littlejohn in your newspaper. Entitled “Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland”, Mr Littlejohn deploys the most hateful stereotypes of Muslims to attack an individual.

Our condemnation is not about the attacks on Mr Haitham al-Haddad: he is perfectly capable of responding to the accusations put to him if minded to do so. Many of us may well disagree with the views attributed to him. Rather, we are speaking out at the insidious and hateful tropes Mr Littlejohn uses for his argument.

Mr Littlejohn may think he is humorous, satirical in fact. But there is nothing funny about inciting hatred. The language he deploys is exactly the same as those used by racists and the far-right. One needs only to peruse the comments below his article online to see the hatred against Muslims Mr Littlejohn has generated.

Would you allow similar hateful stereotypes to be used when writing about other faith or race communities?

Mr Littlejohn may suggest his words of hatred are directed at one figure rather than mainstream Muslims. This is a poor excuse. He accuses one figure of using hate speech by deploying hate speech himself.

As a cross section of Britain’s Muslim community, along with many of our fellow Britons, we state clearly and loudly that Mr Littlejohn’s article is the worst form of bigotry. This goes beyond causing offence. Your newspaper has published an incitement to hate Muslims.

So, we urge you, in the interests of decency and fairplay, to retract Mr Littlejohn’s article and to issue an apology not just to British Muslims, but to your readers and the great British public at large.

Yours,

 

 

Farooq Murad,

Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain

 

Fiyaz Mughal,

Founder and Director, Faith Matters and Tell Mama

 

Julian Bond

Director, Christian Muslim Forum

 

Steven Derby,

Director, Interfaith Matters

 

Ali Qureshi

Secretary General, Union of Muslim Organisations (UMO)

 

Maulana Sarfraz Madni,

Chairman, Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board

 

Ameena Blake,

Vice-President, Muslim Association of Britain

 

Ali Master,

Council of European Jamaats (COEJ)

 

Saleha Islam

Chief Executive, Muslim Youth Helpline

 

Sufyan G Ismail,

Trustee, Engage

 

Mazhar Khan

Executive Board Member, Muslim Council of Scotland

 

Saleem Kidwai OBE,

Secretary General, Muslim Council of Wales

 

Mohammed Aslam-Ijaz,

General Secretary, Council of Mosques, South London and Southern Counties

 

Abdul Hamid Qureshi

Chair, Lancashire Council of Mosques

 

Ufuk Secgin

Chairman, London Islamic Culture and Recreation Society (LICARS)

 

Ahmed Khelloufi

Executive Director, Muslim Welfare House (London)

 

Mohammed Kozbar

British Muslim Initiative and Finsbury Park Mosque

 

Sheikh Hojjat Ramzy

Chair, Iqra Institute, Oxford

 

Shifa Shahab

Federation of Muslim Organisations Leicestershire

 

Muhammad Jinani

Young Muslim Organisation UK

 

Dr Mohammed Idrees

General Secretary, UK Islamic Mission

 

Ajmal Masroor

London Imam and Director of Barefoot Institute

 

Yusuf Al Khoei

Al-Khoei Foundation

 

Moulana Shahid Raza,

Founding Trustee, British Muslim Forum

 

Sir Iqbal Sacranie

Balham Mosque & Tooting Islamic Centre

 

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari

Author and Commentator

 

Talha Ahmad

Head of Media, Dawatul Islam UK & Eire

 

Yousuf Bhailok

Trustee /Chair. ‘Al Jamiah Al Islamiyah Darul Uloom Lancashire

 

Rashid Brora

General Secretary, Southampton Medina Mosque Trust Ltd

 

Unaiza Malik

Muslim Women’s Association

 

Muhammad Habibur-Rahman

Chairman, East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre

 

Dilowar Khan

President, Islamic Forum of Europe

 

 

The Muslim Council of Britain: http://www.mcb.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2463:pr-template&catid=40:press-release