Sun newspaper issues correction over ‘Islamic honour killing’ headline

The UK’s Sun newspaper has apologised over an article wrongly linking Islam and so-called “honour killings” after being accused of “encouraging Islamophobia through the use of clearly inaccurate language” in its headlines.

The Sun, the UK’s most popular newspaper, published an article in May about the murder of mother-of-four Saima Khan, a 34-year-old care worker from Luton whose 26-year-old sister was subsequently charged with her murder.

The original article claimed that police were investigating whether the killing was a so-called “Islamic honour killing”.

A clarification published on Saturday noted that the Sun was now “happy to make clear that Islam as a religion does not support so-called “honour killings”.

The clarification follows a complaint submitted to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) by Miqdaad Versi, deputy head of the Muslim Council of Britain.

An IPSO ruling issued last month in response to the complaint noted that there was “no basis for saying that religion had played a role” in Khan’s killing.

The text of the Sun’s clarification was almost identical to one issued by its competitor, the Daily Mail, which also included the phrase “Islamic honour killing” in its headline.

Responding to the Sun’s correction, which appeared both online and in print, Versi told Middle East Eye that headlines encouraging Islamophobia must be avoided in the current climate.

“News outlets should not encourage Islamophobia through the use of clearly inaccurate and inflammatory language in headlines, especially in today’s climate,” Versi said in an emailed statement.

“Honour killings are barbaric acts based in culture and not in faith. The fact that two tabloid outlets, the Mail Online and the Sun made the same error is very worrying and suggests there is insufficient oversight over the language used.

Versi said safeguards need to be put in place to prevent “further inaccuracies”.

The Sun was also in hot water with IPSO last month after publishing a column saying Islam is “clearly a violent religion” and slamming Channel 4 for allowing Fatima Manji, a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf, to report on the bloody attack in the French city of Nice.

IPSO is investigating after receiving more than 100 complaints in less than 24 hours concerning the column, written by former Sun editor Kelvin McKenzie.

Muslim Council of Britain takes out advert condemning terrorists

The Muslim Council of Britain has taken out an advert in a national newspaper to condemn the Paris attacks – and reaffirm that terrorists do not represent in Islam. The council, which represents more than 500 mosques and community groups across the nation, used a full-page ad in the Telegraph on Thursday to denounce so-called Islamic State and the “barbaric” attacks in the French capital which killed 129 people.

The group also sought to reiterate its commitment to “the values of pluralism and tolerance” and insist that the terrorists must not succeed in turning communities against each other.

The advert, which is headlined Terror in Paris and accompanied by an image of the Eiffel Tower, spells out that acts of terrorism and murder are not “sanctioned” by Islam.

It also sought to highlight the actions of a Muslim security guard who reportedly risked his life to stop a suicide bomber from entering the Stade de France.

It reads: “With one voice, British Muslims condemn the Paris attacks unreservedly.

“We offer our condolences to the victims and their families.

“The barbaric acts of Daesh (or ISIS, as they are sometimes known) have no sanction in the religion of Islam, which forbids terrorism and the targeting of terrorists.”

“Muslims have held vigils and donated blood for the victims. It is not the terrorists who represent our faith but brave individuals like Stade de France security guard Zouheir, who risked his life to stop the attackers.

“We re-affirm our commitment to the values of pluralism and tolerance as the best defence against those who seek to create division and fear.

“The aim of attacks like those inflicted on Paris and other cities across the world is to turn communities against each other.

“As Muslims, Britons and Europeans, we must stand together to make sure they do not succeed.”

The advert was published amid fears of a potential rise in Islamophobic hate crimes following the attacks. Police in Scotland said there had been a spike since Friday. The organisation has already publicly condemned the attacks and helped to organise the vigil for the victims which was held in Trafalgar Square on Saturday and attended by thousands.

Boris Johnson is criticised by MCB for ‘pornfreak jihadists’ comment

The Mayor of London complained that he had been criticised by the moderate Muslim group after he made comments about Islam in January. In a discussion about Islamist fighters, Mr Johnson had told The Sun newspaper that “this one religion seems to be leading people astray in so many cases”. In the same set of comments he also argued that Isis jihadists were driven to violence by an obsession with pornography.

He said, “I was astounded to be denounced, on the front page of The Guardian, by the Muslim Council of Britain,” he wrote in his regular Daily Telegraph column, released this morning. “A spokeswoman said that I was somehow attacking Muslims as a whole. Why on earth would she say that? Why is the MCB effectively claiming these porn freak jihadists for mainstream Islam?”

In his January comments to The Sun Mr Johnson had described jihadis as “literally w*****s”, arguing “They are not making it with girls, and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort — which of course is no comfort.”

At the time, he also told the newspaper: “I often hear voices from the Muslim intelligentsia who are very quick to accuse people of Islamaphobia.

“But they are not explaining how it can be that this one religion seems to be leading people astray in so many cases. They are not being persuasive in the right way with these people.”

Muslim Council of Britain says female genital mutilation is ‘un-Islamic’

June 23, 2014 

The Muslim Council of Britain, the country’s largest Muslim organisation, has condemned the practice of female genital mutilation as “un-Islamic” and told its members that FGM risks bringing their religion into disrepute. The influential MCB has for the first time issued explicit guidance, which criticises the practice and says it is “no longer linked to the teaching of Islam”. It added that one of the “basic principles” of Islam was that believers should not harm themselves or others.

The organisation will send flyers to each of the 500 mosques that form its membership, which will also be distributed in community centres in a drive to eradicate a practice that affects 125 million women and girls worldwide and can lead to psychological torment, complications during childbirth, problems with fertility, and death.

The MCB has collaborated with the African women’s support and campaigning organisation Forward and the Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS (MSCP) to raise awareness of the dangers of FGM and warn practitioners that they face up to 14 years in prison if they subject girls to the practice, which involves the removal of the clitoris, or in more extreme cases the removal of the outer labia and the sewing up of the vagina, with a small hole left for menstruation and to pass urine.

The leaflet states: “FGM is not an Islamic requirement. There is no reference to it in the holy Qur’an that states girls must be circumcised. Nor is there any authentic reference to this in the Sunnah, the sayings or traditions of our prophet. FGM is bringing the religion of Islam into disrepute.”

The Home Office has held a summit at which other religious organisations, including the Shia al-Khoei Foundation and the Muslim Women’s Network UK, announced their support for a government declaration against FGM to be published.

Muslim group demands tougher response to mosque attacks

One of Britain’s largest Islamic groups has said a “dramatic escalation in violence” against British Muslims needs a much tougher response from the government. Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said the bombings of three Midlands mosques marked “the crossing of a red line”.

 

The MCB said the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in an alleged terrorist act in Woolwich, south London, in May had unleashed an increase in violence. A series of incidents had added to “a palpable sense of fear” among Muslim communities, it said.

 

“The community has patiently borne the brunt of these attacks despite condemning in the strongest possible terms the tragic murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby,” Murad said. “Despite this spike in incidences, there has yet to be a co-ordinated national effort to ensure that these sorts of attacks never happen again. It cannot be right that a minority community is allowed to be targeted in this manner.”

 

He added: “There is an urgent need for the government and police to respond with a co-ordinated national strategy so as to prevent further attacks.”

Sunni vs. Shia in Gerrard’s Cross: New mosque highlights growing tensions among British Muslims

In Fulmer, Buckinghamshire a village close to Gerrard’s Cross it was announced that a former church in the village had been bought for £2m, with a plan to turn it into one of Britain’s leading Shia mosques, assurances were sought about traffic and increased noise. But otherwise the new arrivals have been made welcome. The Muslim community faces an increasing threat from polarising clerics on both sides of Islam’s principal rival sects. The concern is rooted in increasingly vociferous opinions being expressed on both sides of Britain’s three million-strong Muslim community.

 

A leading mainstream Muslim group told The Independent yesterday it was concerned at the presence of “divisive and sectarian personalities” in Britain after it emerged that a controversial Saudi Sunni cleric, who was banned from entering Switzerland because of his extremist views and has frequently preached against “evil Shiites”, has been in London for the past week.

 

The respected Al Khoei Foundation, a mainstream Shia organisation which has drawn up a code of conduct to fight against Muslim sectarianism in Britain, said: “The Muslim communities remain concerned but vigilant about the possibilities of divisive and sectarian personalities being given the air of publicity in the UK. But we remain equally confident of our commitment to unity in the face of any hate speeches or crimes against us or against any community.”

 

Police were called to a demonstration in London’s Edgware Road last month led by Anjem Choudary, the former leader of the banned Islamist group Al-Muhajiroun. Participants in the protest held placards condemning the continued bloodshed in Syria and “the Shia enemies of Allah”. The violence at the heart of one of London’s most diverse Arab and Muslim areas has caused alarm in the wider community and was swiftly condemned by a coalition of Muslim groups, including the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), amid growing concern that extremist preachers are finding fertile ground in sectarian tensions generated by the conflict in Syria.

 

In a joint statement, which singled out the “antics” of Mr Choudary, the MCB said: “Sunnis and Shias remain united in the UK and have a long-established history of intra-faith co-operation. We are acutely aware that the complex situation in the Middle East and Muslim world has the possibility of threatening that tradition… We should avoid hate and condescending speech and literature in our midst.”

 

David Cameron hinted last week that mosques seeking to ban extremist preachers could have their legal fees paid from public funds as part of a raft of measures being drawn up by a ministerial task force, which is also considering direct bans on so-called “preachers of hate” being given public platforms.

Reactions to the Woolwich Attack

24 May 2013

 

Visiting the site of the horrific attack in Woolwich recently, Dr Shuja Shafi, the Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, led a delegation of community leaders including Tariq Usmani, Chair of Greenwich Islamic Centre, Julie Siddiqui, Vice president, Islamic Society of Britain and Saeed Ahmed, Greenwich Independent Police Advisory Group, all laid flowers and paid respects to Drummer Lee Rigby.

 

On the occasion, speaking to the BBC, Dr Shafi spoke about the importance of ‘showing solidarity’ and said he “mourns the loss of a bright young man, a father, a husband and a brother”.

 

He also addressed the nature of the attack, which appeared without any warning as a “matter for concern. We need to really, deeply think about what can be done.”

 

As tensions rise as a result of the barbaric murder in Woolwich on Wednesday, the Muslim Council of Britain convened a meeting with a diverse range of faith leaders to speak out against the attack and to call for calm.

 

Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB said at the meeting: “This action will no doubt heighten tensions on the streets of the United Kingdom. Already, there were reports last night of mosques being attacked in Essex and Kent. And the English Defence League, went to stoke hatred in Woolwich last night. They tell us they say because a British soldier was attacked, but as the pictures show, they ended up attacking the police.”

 

The Muslim Council of Britain has also communicated with its affiliate network and mosques to alert them to the threat of reprisals from the extreme right and convey united sympathy for the victim’s family. Mosques have been urged to take positive steps and stretch a hand of friendship to fellow Britons.

 

Also speaking at the MCB conference Mr Saeed Ahmed, a community organiser from Greenwich conveyed his condolences to the family of the victim and also commended the work of the local Police in assuring communities and calling for calm.

 

The MCB is heartened by the messages of understanding and reconciliation sent to the MCB by faith leaders. We urge Muslim communities to reach out to fellow Britons and testify the true reality of our faith. We call on all our communities, Muslim and non-Muslim, to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail.

Imams to preach against grooming of girls for sex

Imams across Britain will give simultaneous sermons condemning sexual grooming next month, as part of a grass-roots Muslim campaign to tackle the problem of abuse. The co-ordinated event on 28 June will follow a conference organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to discuss ways of preventing further cases of abuse after seven men – all Muslim – were convicted this week for the grooming and sex trafficking of girls as young as 11 in Oxford. The case is one of several in recent years in which gangs of men, predominantly from a Pakistani Muslim background, have groomed young girls for sex. Julie Siddiqi, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, was one of the first Muslim figures to speak out on the issue. She said that although children were exploited in all communities, “the number of street-grooming convictions in the past few years involving Omars, Ahmeds and Faisals means the time has come for action. But if there are patterns emerging – and I think there are – of people from a certain background engaging in this type of activity, then that can’t be ignored either. I’m not saying all Pakistani men are prone to this, or Islam says that; of course that’s nonsense. But if we ignore these patterns we’re going to do an injustice against the victims.” A separate MCB conference, on 20 June, will include speakers from child protection and the police. It will be attended by senior Muslim clerics from around the country. A spokeswoman for the MCB said: “All communities should be tackling this and we’re doing our part to address this.”

Muslim Council attacks Gove’s proposed history curriculum

13 April 2013

 

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) one of the UK’s leading Islamic organisations has warned that plans to revise the school history curriculum risks ignoring the Muslim contribution to western civilisation – an omission that will only foster alienation.

 

The MCB says the plans ignore the contribution of Indian Muslim, Hindu and Sikh soldiers to two world wars, particularly on the western front in the First World War. They also, it adds, fail to acknowledge “the preservation and enhancement of ancient Greek and Roman learning by classical Muslim civilisation, which percolated into Europe via Spain and Italy, leading to the European Renaissance”.

 

It is not the first body to criticise the proposals. In a joint statement the Historical Association and the Royal Historical Society claim the curriculum has been drafted “without any systematic consultation”.

Muslim Council vows action to stop children being groomed for sex

The Muslim Council of Britain has said it will take action to prevent girls being “groomed” for sex. Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra of the council said people were sometimes reluctant to speak out – but they have a “religious duty” to do so. He said the council was working with groups including the NSPCC, police and Muslim organisations to educate people. The action comes after high-profile sex abuse cases involving Muslim men in Rochdale and Derby. “This is an appalling and abhorrent kind of behaviour which is totally unacceptable regardless of race or religion,” said Sheikh Mogra, the MCB’s Assistant Secretary General, on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme.