It appears that the Quilliam Foundation may have leaked an Islamophobic story to the media about gender segregation at London School of Economics Islamic Society’s annual dinner.
The story was originally published in the Daily Mail on Tuesday but in an angry Twitter exchange yesterday with Muslims who were questioning a follow-up story by ITV News, journalist Luke Hanrahan said that the Quilliam Foundation were contacted by people who attended the event who expressed “concerns” about it to them.
Quilliam, a so-called “counter-extremism think-tank”, has a history of generating media stories which are negative about Muslims. The group is widely reviled within the Muslim community because of its constant attacks on mainstream Muslims, and because of its collaboration with the government and right-wing media to demonise the community.
During the Twitter exchange, Hanrahan called one Tweeter an “irritating prick” after being told he had been exposed as an Islamophobe. And after being called a liar by another, he told the user “f*** you.” Both were Muslims.
The Twitter argument seems to have erupted after Hanrahan wrote a story entitled “LSE investigates its Islamic Society as men and women are segregated at annual ball.” But the LSE has confirmed that there has not been an investigation although the issue has been raised with the Islamic Society.
The original Daily Mail story reported that an “Islamic society at a top university has come under fire for holding a gala dinner where men and women were segregated from one another by a screen running down the middle of the room.” The Mail article also managed to print a picture of Jihadi John brandishing a knife in the same piece.
A few days later The London School of Economics Islamic Society responded to the article calling it “vitriolic.”
“As a society, we reject any suggestion that our Annual Dinner contravened the LSE’s Equality Policy. The guidelines explicitly state that segregation is permissible both in the event of religious ceremonies and when it is voluntarily chosen. The curtain was in fact set up at the request of our members and the layout of the room was necessary for the facilitation of three prayers, a spiritual sermon, and Quran recitation…
“Falsely linking our Annual Dinner to extremism, radicalisation and terrorism, The Mail Online’s Islamophobic report not only directly perpetuated Islamophobia and hateful bigotry nationally, but has instigated the presence of other media outlets that have been involved in the intimidation of some of our students on campus.
“The rhetoric used throughout this piece exemplifies the extent to which Islamophobia has become normalised in the mainstream media and society as a whole. This ugly hate speech and rhetoric has manifested itself in a plethora of Islamophobic hate crime, verbal abuse and physical assaults on Muslim students throughout university campuses in the UK.
“Such lazy reporting and gutter journalism contributes to the growing climate of fear and division, which has significant repercussions for the wellbeing of already vulnerable and marginalised students.”