British Muslims have reacted angrily to an article in the Daily Mail today in which right-wing columnist Richard Littlejohn criticised amusement park Legoland for hosting Shaikh Haitham al Haddad on a family fun day.
The article led to a storm of protest on social media with many vowing to complain directly to the Daily Mail, the Press Complaints Commission and even the police.
In an article titled “Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland” Littlejohn called Haddad a “hate preacher” and linked him and other Muslims to terrorism, violence, anti-semitism and gender discrimination.
Littlejohn wrote: “Al-Haddad is an enthusiastic supporter of Taliban policies, believes that Jews are ‘descended from apes and pigs’, homosexuals are criminals and those who leave Islam should be killed…
“So what can the lucky revellers expect when they arrive? Rehearsals are already under way and this column has been sent a copy of the itinerary:
“9am Coaches leave for Legoland. Males and females to travel on separate coaches. Strictly no fraternisation, no iPods and no transistor radios. Anyone found with a bacon sandwich will have their hands chopped off.
“9.50am Rear coach packed with explosives stops in Parliament Square. As Big Ben strikes ten, driver will blow himself up, en route to Paradise, where 72 virgins await. In the event of heavy traffic, he will detonate in the Blackfriars underpass.
“10.30am Arrive Legoland, Windsor. Coaches containing women and girls to use segregated car park and entrance at rear. Guests are reminded that music and dancing are punishable by death. Mobile phones are also prohibited, because they may inadvertently set off the hi-viz suicide vests being worn by our own security personnel.
“11am Mid-morning prayers, conducted by the former Ayatollah of Finsbury Park, Abu Hamza, live from his maximum security prison cell in Arizona. Today, he calls for all homosexuals and female adulterers living in Britain to be stoned to death, with Lego…
“Midday Lunch in the Legoland family halal restaurant. Unfortunately, all meals have been cancelled because this is a fast day. Anyone caught attempting to smuggle in a Mars Bar or kofti kebab under their burka will be executed.
“1pm Community chanting. Ram Jam Choudary leads the family funsters in a popular chorus of ‘Death to America, Death to the Jews!’ The quartermaster of the Hounslow branch of Al Muhajiroun will be handing out leaflets showing how to disguise Semtex as bricks of Lego. If wet, in bedouin tent behind Knights’ Kingdom.
“2pm Members of the Tower Hamlets Martyrs Brigade stage a Mumbai-style attack on the Windsor Legoland Resort Hotel. Includes instruction in how to build a grenade-launcher out of Lego.
“4pm Afternoon prayers, conducted by Ayman al-Zawahiri, live via internet from his compound in the tribal regions of Waziristan. Followed by a seminar on how Lego can be used to build weapons which can be smuggled undetected through airport security.
“5pm Practical demonstration on how to make an execution block out of Lego, for use when making internet videos showing beheading of infidels and apostates. Younger children will be taught how to build an Osama bin Laden doll out of Lego.
It wasn’t long before the article sparked a storm of protest. On Twitter fellow Daily Mail journalist Peter Oborne called Littlejohn’s article a “revolting piece of Islamophobic bigotry.”
Taji Mustafa of Hizb ut Tahrir said: “Imagine if Littlejohn’s outrageous hate-spew was against Jews.”
Journalist Assed Baig called Littlejohn’s piece “the most Islamophobic article of the year” and added: “What would be a fun day out for Littlejohn? Stringing up Muslims and shooting them?”
Meanwhile, an alert on Shaikh Haitham’s own website Islam 21c asked people to contact the Daily Mail to complain about the article, demand a retraction and publish an apology:
The website also urged readers to file a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission saying that it breaches Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the PCC’s Code of Practise.
Islam 21c stated “The article is replete with inaccuracies and seeks to stereotype Muslims as, extremist, terrorists and repeats the Islamophobic stereotypes of the likes of the EDL and other bigots.
“It incites hatred and in an atmosphere of growing hostility to Muslims and the rise of Islamophobia, such articles serve to deliberately stoke hatred and instigate violence against minorities.
“We all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, need to take stand against this vile article and demand an immediate retraction and apology from the author and the Daily Mail for making such degrading and disgusting comments.”
Littlejohn, who is one of Britain’s best-paid journalists and is a vocal supporter of Israel and western wars, is often accused by Muslims of Islamophobia.