Legoland have cancelled a family outing organised by a prominent Muslim scholar in fear of guest and staff safety after they received a number of threatening calls, emails and social media posts.
The family fun day which was organised by Sheikh Haitham al Haddad of the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) for Sunday 9th March will not be going ahead after a barrage of violent messages were made by far-right Islamophobic extremists.
The English Defence League, Casuals United and other far-right groups vowed to hold a protest outside Legoland, many threatening to use violence to prevent the family outing.
Legoland issued the following statement:
“The Legoland Windsor Resort prides itself on welcoming everyone to our wonderful attraction; however due to unfortunate circumstances the private event scheduled for Sunday 9th March will no longer take place. This was an incredibly difficult made after discussions with the organisers and local Thames Valley Police, following the receipt of a number of threatening phone calls, emails and social media posts to the Resort over the last couple of weeks.
“These alone have led us to conclude that we can no longer guarantee the happy fun family event which was envisaged or the safety of our guests and employees on the day – which is always our number one priority.
“Sadly it is our belief that deliberate misinformation fuelled by a small group with a clear agenda was designed expressly to achieve this outcome. We are appalled at what has occurred, and at the fact that the real losers in this are the many families and children who were looking forward to an enjoyable day out at Legoland.
“We would like to apologies to them and to the organisers, and to thank them for their understanding. We hope that they will all be able to come to visit us during the season.”
British Muslims reacted angrily to an article published in the Daily Mail last week in which right-wing columnist Richard Littlejohn criticised Legoland for hosting Sheikh Haitham’s family fun day.
It is strongly believed that this article facilitated and encouraged the threatening behaviour of far-right extremists, which ultimately led to the cancelation of the event.
Many prominent Muslim leaders and organisations described Littlejohn’s piece as one of the most Islamophobic articles published in the history of the British press.
The article led to a storm of protest on social media, resulting in many complaining directly to the Daily Mail, the Press Complaints Commission and even the police.
The 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.
On Sheikh Haitham’s website, Islam 21c it 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.