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The Editors' Code of Practice and Clause 12

The Editors' Code of Practice and Clause 12

Categories: Latest News

Monday December 15 2014

When is the mention of a person’s religious identity ‘genuinely relevant’ to a story?

That is the question that arises in relation to the jailing of pensioner, Mohammed Rafiq, 80, after he was found guilty of orchestrating an acid attack on an ex-girlfriend, Vikki Horsman, 19.

Compare and contrast the coverage in the Daily Mail and the Guardian of details emerging from the trial of Rafiq.

First of all the headlines:

The Daily Mail makes mention of both Rafiq’s religious identity and the conversion of Horsman during their relationship, “GUILTY: First picture of Muslim pensioner, 80, who arranged for acid to be thrown in his 20-year-old Islamic convert ex-girlfriend’s face”

The Guardian simply states the facts, “Pensioner found guilty over acid attack on teenage ex-girlfriend”.

The Daily  Mail adds two further references to religion in the summary to the news item at the top of the page:

“Vikki Horsman, 20, converted to Islam for pensioner Mohammed Rafiq”

“She chose to wear a headscarf and changed her name to Aleena Rafiq”

The Guardian makes no reference at all to religion. Not of Rafiq, or the two men he is said to have enlisted to carry out the attack on Horsman.

The Guardian article correctly identifies Rafiq’s ‘controlling behaviour’ as motive for the crime quoting a police officer who said, “This was a horrifying and complex case which centred around a controlling relationship. Rafiq’s young ex-partner was seriously injured and left with devastating, lasting scars, which one can only presume was his intent given the nature of the planned attack.”

The Daily Mail too recognises the ‘controlling’ nature of Rafiq’s personality quoting Horsman who said, ” ‘This is what those people have done to me – all because I had the courage to be my own person and escape a controlling man.”

Why then does the Daily Mail feel the need to bring religion into it with its headline and summary both explicitly mentioning Rafiq’s religious identity and Horsman’s conversion?

Is Rafiq’s religious identity remotely relevant to the story?


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