You may have missed this important Mail on Sunday correction about a 'Muslim gang'

Matthew Champion@matthewchampion
Tuesday 22 September 2015 10:30
news

Amid all the furore over the unauthorised biography of David Cameron being serialised in the Daily Mail, you may have missed the important story about its stablemate the Mail on Sunday.

The paper has rewritten a story online to remove references to Muslims and issued an apology after a complaint to the press regulator.

In an article published in July, “Welcome to Shadwell: Muslim gang sabotages immigration-raid vans”, the MoS quoted a witness blaming “Muslim gangs” for a knife attack upon an immigration enforcement van in east London.

The anonymous witness said: “I think they were local Muslim hoodies just doing a prank, but it’s not funny.”

Miqdaad Versi, assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, complained directly to the MoS in a personal capacity, and he received a letter from managing editor John Wellington.

Mr Wellington said no disrespect was intended to Muslims but that no action would be taken, so Mr Versi complained to press regulator Ipso on the grounds the article was based on conjecture and the religion of the people involved was irrelevant.

The MoS then agreed to rewrite the story and issued the following correction:

An article on July 26 said a gang of Muslim youths was responsible for damaging Home Office immigration enforcement vehicles in Shadwell, east London, in the week the prime minister appealed to Muslims to help combat extremism. Muslim readers have asked to point out that the youths’ religion was unclear and, in any case, irrelevant to the story. We apologise for any offence caused.

It is understood that Mr Wellington has also attended an event about the way the media reports on Islam and Muslims.

Speaking to i100.co.uk, Mr Versi said he was pleased the Mail on Sunday had recognised its "error in judgment":

Too often headlines reinforce a stereotype of Muslims as the evil 'other'. Whilst sensationalist pieces attract readers, this should not be at the expense of accuracy or fairness. In this case, the piece failed both those tests.

We asked Mr Versi what he would say to people who see stories in the press that they think are unfair, or unsubstantiated.

"When there is a story that does not meet the basic expectations of our society, do write in and let them know," he said.

"But we have to recognise this is not the responsibility of readers alone - many media groups themselves play a major role and I hope my complaint plays a small role in preventing such pieces being written in the first place."

HT Guardian

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