Andrew Gilligan – the World’s Worst Journalist

Inayat's Corner - 9 May, 2018 - 19:45

Is there a working journalist with a more woeful record for getting it wrong and writing lies than Andrew Gilligan?

Today, the Sunday Telegraph accepted that Gilligan had written a defamatory story concerning the general secretary of the Finsbury Park mosque, Mohammed Kozbar, and had falsely portrayed him as being a supporter of Muslim extremism. The article, published in March 2016, was headlined “Corbyn and the mosque leader who blames the UK for Isil” so no prizes for guessing whose political career Gilligan was also hoping to trash at the same time. The Sunday Telegraph has removed the article from its website and been forced to pay substantial damages to Mr Kozbar while now admitting that “in fact, Mr Kozbar has never ‘blamed the UK for ISIL’”.

But, of course, this is not the first time that Gilligan has been caught out writing inflammatory rubbish. Just last August 2017, the Sunday Telegraph was again forced to apologise and pay damages after another Gilligan story fell apart after publication. This time it was forced to pay £20,000 in damages and apologise to Haras Ahmed for falsely accusing him of being an “Islamist activist” who was allegedly seeking to undermine the government’s Prevent strategy – a strategy that has many critics within the UK Muslim communities. The paper accepted that “whilst he is critical of the Prevent strategy (elements of which he believes are highly discriminatory), he does not support Islamist extremists and is in no way himself an extremist.”

And the year before that, in 2016, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph apologised to Mujibul Islam, a businessman in Tower Hamlets, following a series of Gilligan articles about him which the Telegraph accepted “suggested that Mr Islam was a willing beneficiary of…corruption”. The Telegraph papers accepted that the allegations were “untrue” and once again had to pay damages.

Gilligan now works for the Sunday Times. Interestingly, in February 2017, Gilligan wrote a story for his latest employers about a new so-called “Trojan Horse” plot by Muslims, including Nasim Ashraf and Hafizan Zaman, to takeover a state school in Oldham. The very next day the Daily Telegraph – Gilligan’s former employers – followed up on Gilligan’s exclusive story and wrote up a similar story. You can guess what happened…the Daily Telegraph was forced to accept that the allegations “were unfounded” and apologised and paid damages to the Muslims they had accused. You would have thought that the Telegraph papers would have learned to steer well clear of a Gilligan “story”.

And what happened to Gilligan’s original Sunday Times story? Well, if you click on this link it currently says “This article is the subject of a legal complaint from Mr Nasim Ashraf and Mrs Hafizan Zaman.” I don’t fancy the paper’s chances. Do you?

Could it be that the Sunday Times is now regretting employing the world’s worst journalist?

On the other hand, perhaps the Murdoch-owned paper believes that publishing inflammatory articles about Muslims is an essential part of its mission as a right-wing rabble-rousing newspaper.

Sunday Telegraph pays damages to mosque chief over Corbyn article

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 May, 2018 - 18:51

Story falsely portrayed Mohammed Kozbar as supporter of violent extremism in attempt to criticise Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

The Sunday Telegraph has paid “substantial damages” to the general secretary of Finsbury Park mosque after it falsely portrayed him as a supporter of violent lslamist extremism as part of a botched attempt to criticise the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

In March 2016 the newspaper published an article headlined: “Corbyn and the mosque leader who blames the UK for Isil.” The story tried to connect the Labour leader to extremist views allegedly held by Mohammed Kozbar, who runs the mosque in Corbyn’s Islington North constituency and is also vice-chair of the Muslim Association of Britain.

Mohammed Kozbar, Chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, with faith and community leaders. Together, our community will get through this tragedy.

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Jakarta court rejects attempt by Hizb ut-Tahrir to reverse its ban

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 May, 2018 - 13:48

State court in Indonesian capital upholds decision last year to outlaw Islamic group

A legal attempt by the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir to overturn a decision that saw it outlawed in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country has been rejected by an Indonesian court.

Reading the verdict at Jakarta state administrative court, the head judge, Tri Cahya Indra Permana, said the lawsuit was “rejected in full”.

Related: 'Extremist is the secular word for heretic': the Hizb ut-Tahrir leader who insists on his right to speak

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The mystery of Ruth Wilson

Indigo Jo Blogs - 5 May, 2018 - 22:55

A picture of the view from Box Hill. In the foreground is a viewing platform with a semicircular wall with two steps up; two white women, one wearing a red jumper and white pair of trousers and holding something under her arm, the other wearing a blue or grey top and white trousers. Behind the viewing platform there is a steep downward drop, with a playing field, houses and an office building at the bottom of the hill. It is a misty day and the buildings further away appear whitened, while the greenery in the foreground and the viewpoint are clearly visible.Recently a half-hour film featuring Martin Bright, the former New Statesman, Spectator and Jewish Chronicle contributor, and a retired Northern Irish cop named Liam McAuley, was published on YouTube about the disappearance of a 16-year-old girl named Ruth Wilson from Betchworth, near Dorking in Surrey. Bright wrote an article about the case and the film for the Observer last Sunday and had earlier written a piece for the Observer about various cases of teenagers disappearing and about why some (such as Milly Dowler) attract ample media attention and others attract much less (particularly those who have been in trouble, though boys generally attract less). The film interviews a number of friends of Ruth who shed some light on Ruth’s state of mind in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, but Bright and McAuley were unable to persuade Ruth’s family to participate, and they could not get answers out of people in Betchworth either. (More: Scepticpeg.)

The film glosses over some important facts about the area. It portrays Betchworth as a rural village, and Wilson as a “village girl”. In fact, Betchworth is a commuter village in the Surrey “stockbroker belt” and people living there commute to surrounding towns and the south London suburbs to work, and to London by train. There is a railway line running through the area with a station at Betchworth. The village is equidistant from Reigate and Dorking though it is in the same district as Dorking (Mole Valley) rather than Reigate. Ruth and her sister went to school in Dorking and would not have been unsophisticated ingenues or country bumpkins; they would have had the same access to information and technology as young people growing up in nearby Croydon, as I did. Betchworth is practially suburbia and if it had not been for the green belt, it probably would be.

Second, Box Hill is described as a local beauty spot but it is actually a major tourist trap, popular with day trippers, school trippers, bikers (push and motor), walkers and nature lovers. These days it’s famous as the climax of the 2012 Olympic road race and still features in the London and Surrey “classic” bicycle race each August. There is a pub (as mentioned in the programme), a shop, a National Trust-run cafe and information centre and at least one caravan park in the area. This matters, because if her body had been buried on or around Box Hill, it would have been found before very long as footfall in the area is very, very high. Needless to say, if she had killed herself there, she would have been found. It takes a very clever person to kill themselves and make sure they are never found, especially in a place like that.

At the time, Ruth was portrayed as a happy young girl who was doing well at school and her disappearance was quite out of character. In fact, she was very unhappy, having recently discovered that the story she had been told about her mother’s death (that it was an accident) was false, and that she had in fact killed herself. She had asked a friend, who was leaving the area for a new life in Sheffield, to take her with her but the friend was unable to and they were unable to stay in touch properly after the friend left. She also was known to regularly visit Box Hill after school, which would have been quite common as it is only a short bus ride from both Dorking and Betchworth (and a longish but manageable walk), which suggests that it was thought safe for a woman or girl to visit the area on her own.

Comments on the YouTube video about the case reveal a lot of suspicion about the father’s role, particularly because he will not speak to the investigators about his daughter’s disappearance. It appears she intended to go somewhere (hence the flowers, to be delivered two days later) but whoever she trusted to take her there killed her. There were some supposedly reliable sightings of her in Dorking in the days after her disappearance, but it is odd that nobody thought to approach her despite the claim that they knew her well. Notes from Ruth were found on Box Hill along with an empty packet of paracetamol tablets and a bottle of vermouth, but if she had really used those to kill herself, her body would have been found nearby; if this report is correct, the likelihood is that they were left by her killer. Finally, I wonder if the police investigated the veracity of the cab driver’s story, since he is the only witness to the claim that he left her on her own opposite a pub and that she did not move until he was out of view. Cab drivers were much less well-regulated then, before the Criminal Records Bureau was introduced after the Soham murders, and the number of abusive ones, even those who transported children, was fairly high. There was no GPS tracking or network of number plate cameras and few people had access to mobile phones, so the driver’s opportunity to disappear with Ruth undetected would have been greater than it is now — and certainly far greater than Ruth’s own ability to disappear undetected.

The least convincing theory is that Ruth left the area and made a new life for herself somewhere else. To do that she would have had to know people who could have made that possible; it is not known that she did, and surely whoever those people were would have been investigated following her disappearance. If she had done that, she would not have remained in hiding all her life; she would have been out and about living a life, and would have been seen even if she had changed her appearance. And would she really have not even let her family know she was OK, even if she did not want them knowing where she was? It’s difficult not to conclude that she was murdered that day or shortly afterwards, but the stone wall that Bright and McAuley faced when trying to investigate, and even the suggestion that Surrey Police might not like the suggestion that their investigations were not done properly, really suggests that a lot of people around Betchworth have a lot to hide.

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Can you be a Muslim if you're an atheist?

The Guardian World news: Islam - 4 May, 2018 - 11:00

An atheist finds solidarity across Muslim cultural identity in America following Donald Trump’s travel ban

In Zadie Smith’s essay about the British Pakistani writer Hanif Kureishi, she recalls his debut novel, The Buddha of Suburbia, being passed around like contraband in her history class. It was treasured for its sexual freedom and punk spirit, but its most thrilling quality was not its profanity, it was its perspective. “My name is Karim Amir,” the book begins, “and I am an Englishman born and bred, almost.”

Half Indian and half British by birth, he is more likely to be considered black, Asian or Muslim in his native England. But in spite of that final designation, which casts a long shadow over perceptions of Karim’s family by their suburban neighbors, the book follows him to the pub more often than to the mosque. Kureishi’s world, populated by the “new breeds” of multiracial south London, was unlike the literary worlds of Dickens and Austen to which Smith and her schoolmates had previously been subjected. “We had a Kureishi in our class (spelt with a Q),” she remembers, “and felt we recognised the world of this novel.”

That taboo so easily and simply broken, confidence may have been given to the whole slimy, suicidal Dionysian side of my nature; the lesson may have been learned that to break the law, all you have to do is—just go ahead and break it! All you have to do is stop trembling and quaking and finding it unimaginable and beyond you: all you have to do, is do it! What else, I ask you, were all those prohibitive dietary rules and regulations all about to begin with, what else but to give us little Jewish children practice in being repressed?

I remember my own relationship to religious dietary restrictions changing dramatically

Does having this experience mean I am not a Muslim?

Once my uncle said to me with some suspicion: “You’re not a Christian, are you?” “No,” I said. “I’m an atheist.” “So am I,” he replied. “But I am still Muslim.” “A Muslim atheist?” I said: “It sounds odd.” He said: “Not as odd as being nothing, an unbeliever.”

I said: 'It sounds odd.' He said: 'Not as odd as being nothing, an unbeliever.'

For his most dedicated followers on the far right, its ultimate goal remains a 'clash of civilizations'

Islam of course is a religion, but it is also a culture; the Arabic language is the same for Muslims as it is for Christians, both of whom, believers and nonbelievers alike, are deeply affected perhaps the better word is inflected—by the Koran, which is also in Arabic.

Islam of course is a religion, but it is also a culture

I realized that what he was asking had little to do with religious faith

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