Three national newspapers apologise to Lewisham Islamic Centre over scout group story

Lewisham Islamic Centre, south London.

Three national newspapers have issued retractions and apologies to Lewisham Islamic Centre over fabrications published over allegations of “extremism” at the mosque’s scouts group. 

The Times, the Daily Mail and the Daily Star Sunday have all corrected their initial stories and have apologised to the south London mosque for false reporting false information published in a story back in January.

Lewisham Islamic Centre issued the following statement in response to the retractions and apologies:

“The Lewisham Islamic Centre is pleased to confirm and announce that it has received categorical apologies from the various media outlets who published hurtful untruths about the Centre’s Scouts group in January 2019. Alhamdulillah (all praise are for God).

“The Times (by Anna Behrmann), Daily Mail (by Leigh McManus) and Daily Star – all publications with past and continuing anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic bias – have all published retractions making clear that their articles which sought to mislead the public that our Scouts group had been reported to the police, and had also been suspended and was being investigated by the Scout Association for fears of extremism and segregation, were nothing other than a figment of their imagination.

“An apology has also been made to Imam Shakeel Begg for falsely attributing a statement to him. The apologies, which were published online and in the print press can found below.

“Notwithstanding this, we are in no doubt how much these so-called journalists and media outlets would love to sell their fabrications as truth, or worse as “alternative facts”. The Lewisham Islamic Centre challenged these false and defamatory articles through IPSO, and as a result the media outlets have been forced to admit their wrongdoing.

“Truth and Accuracy in reporting are central to credible professional journalism and rest at the heart of the industry codes of practice. The wanton abuse by the culprits in this case of all journalistic integrity that amounted to nothing other than plagiarising unfounded allegations to manufacture a consensus at damaging third parties – in this instance the Lewisham Islamic Centre and Imam Shakeel, and others in countless other instances – must be of stomach-churning concern to all advocates of truth, fairness and justice.

“We recall the gleeful sense of achievement declared by Nikita Malik of the Henry Jackson Society at the publications of these false articles, who took to social media to credit her organisation’s involvement in the shoddy investigations leading up to these articles, quick to lend their support to smears and wilfully miscomprehended facts.

“It is of no surprise of course that Nikita Malik has already deleted her tweets.

“The apologies now published speak volumes and inshaAllah (God willing) only drive more nails into the coffin of the Henry Jackson Society as any sort of a credible voice, a despised and inevitably diminishing voice.

“In the wake of the recent atrocities in Christchurch, New Zealand, we have seen some commendable editorials on factual reporting with sincere and genuine attempts to inform opinion rather than lead opinions down the dark and well-trodden path of dog-whistling and fake news. The Lewisham Islamic Centre stands by truth as the Qur’an commands, and will continue to lead by example and empower the Muslim community to stand against voices that seek to disenfranchise us.”

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