The Sun newspaper has faced a backlash on social media over its “deliberately inflammatory” reporting of a brutal beheading in north London on Thursday.
Palmira Silva was found dead outside a house in Edmonton after police received calls that a man was attacking an animal and car with a knife. The 82-year-old widow was found “collapsed” at the scene.
The suspect, who remains under police guard in hospital, was Tasered and arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene in Nightingale Road by armed officers, some of whom were injured in a struggle.
Scotland Yard have not yet confirmed the motive, but have emphasised that the incident did not appear to be terror-related,.
Nevertheless, The Sun story quoted sources who described the man as a “Muslim convert” who had “recently grown a beard.”
The tabloid’s article has been described as “fear-mongering” by some, with many on social media accusing the paper of inciting hatred against Muslims.
An insider “who worked with the suspect” told the paper the 25-year-old man “converted to Islam around April time. One of his parents was Muslim… and talked about praying. He put on a robe and prayed ever when he was at work.”
Muslim organisation MEND, which monitors the media, said it is too early to speculate about the motive for the crime.
It added: “The claims have not been substantiated in police statements of news reports so it is shocking, though perhaps not entirely surprising, that The Sun put it on the front page albeit in quote marks. We await further updates in connection with the incident but ask you to be vigilant of any hostility directed at Muslims as a result of the provocative headline.
“We also ask that you await further reports before submitting reactive complaints about The Sun front page either to the Editor or the Press Complaints Commission. Until the claims of a ‘convert’ being involved are verified, we do not have all the facts before us on which to base a complaint. Needless to say, we will keep you updated on developments.”