Newspapers apologise after false claims against Islamic Centre
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday April 16 2019
Three national newspapers have issued apologies and corrections after publishing false claims against Lewisham Islamic Centre. The Daily Mail, The Daily Star and The Times falsely reported that the mosque’s scouts’ group was being suspended by The Scouts Association pending an investigation by the police for “extremism” and segregation. The Lewisham Islamic Centre challenged these false allegations through the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) forcing the media outlets to admit their multiple errors. The allegations were found to be completely without basis.
The allegations originally came following a Telegraph investigation, based upon a report from the Henry Jackson Society into the Lewisham Islamic Centre. The Henry Jackson Society itself has a legacy of anti-Muslim sentiment and has an established neo-conservative agenda which has been proven to result in “witch hunts” against Muslim communities, academics, and activists. The investigation accused the organisation and its leadership of segregating groups based on gender in what was considered a breach of the Scouts Association co-education policy. However, the Scouts policy does in fact, permit gender segregation. Additionally, there are numerous scout groups around the country that already exist and operate boys or girls only groups, yet none of these have been reported for ‘extremism.’ Further apologies were issues to Imam Shakeel Begg for falsely accusing him of vilifying UK police forces as “leading a campaign against Muslims, attempting a genocide against them.”
Lewisham Islamic Centre issued a response stating that; “The Lewisham Islamic Centre is pleased to confirm and announce that it has received categorical apologies from the various media outlets who published hurtful untruths about the Centre’s Scouts group in January 2019. Alhamdulillah (all praise is for God). We continue to be appalled by the ever downward spiral in standard of some sections of the British press…We can categorically confirm that the Lewisham Islamic Centre has not been suspended by The Scouts for any extremism fears or for any concerns regarding segregation as has been spitefully alleged, and neither have we been contacted by the Police.”
MEND is a firm advocate of a free and accountable press. We, therefore, call on policy makers to commit to the full implementation of the Royal Charter on press regulation and the commencement of the second part of the Leveson Inquiry, including an investigation into the prevalence of Islamophobia within the media.