Staff revolt halts tabloid’s spoof Muslim page

The Daily Star newspaper was forced to pull out over printing a controversial page mocking Muslim law after a revolt by a number of its journalists.

The tabloid had intended to turn the paper into the ‘Daily Fatwa’ but was forced to drop its plans after a newsroom revolt, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper.

The page, intended for Wednesday’s edition, was originally scheduled to run a “Page 3 Burkha Babes Special” as well as competitions to “Burn a Flag and Win a Corsa” and “Win hooks just like Hamza’s”.

The page also included a spoof leader column under the headline “Allah is Great” but left blank save for a stamp with the word “Censored”.

According to the Guardian, the page had been signed off by senior bosses before staff intervened and arranged a stop work NUJ chapel meeting in which they voiced fears of possible violent reprisals if the page went ahead.

“This National Union of Journalists chapel expresses its deep concern at the content of page 6 in tomorrow’s Daily Star which we consider to be deliberately offensive to Muslims,” the motion read.

“The chapel fears that this editorial content poses a very serious risk of violent and dangerous reprisals from religious fanatics who may take offence at these articles. This may place the staff in great jeopardy. This chapel urges the management to remove the content immediately.”

Deputy editor Ben Knowles pulled the page after he was confronted by staff.

The spoof page was widely condemned across the country with Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News, saying reaction to the piece if published would have led to the type of outcry as seen over the Danish cartoon controversy.

“This would have been like the cartoons issue. It would have created a huge, huge backlash and outcry”, he said.

“I’m quite sure there would have been huge demonstrations outside the paper by the weekend and internationally outside the British embassies because the paper would be seen as a British institution.”

The NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: “This was an outrageous and hugely irresponsible idea which fortunately our chapel courageously resisted and, in so doing, protected both the paper and its staff from possible serious repercussions.

“The union’s code of conduct condemns this sort of gratuitous material which is likely to encourage discrimination and hatred in our society.

“We are calling on the Daily Star to act wisely and responsibly and put this moment of madness behind them for good.”



Is this the Muslim debate we wanted?

The Asian Today comment

 Without the sensible intervention of a number of journalists, the Daily Star would more than likely have been at the centre of one mighty row today. Sure they probably thought ‘Burqa Babes’ and ‘Burn a Flag and Win a Corsa’ were incredibly funny and would win them a big slice of the tabloid readership, but did they actually think of what the consequences would have been had it not been for a number of journalists who obviously have more sense than to be working for the Star? Mocking religion today is like mocking god – incredibly risky. If the paper had ran the page and Muslims across Britain had voiced their disgust and anger, they would have been accused by papers like the Star of overreacting. So this is where everybody needs to be responsible, and that includes both the Media and the British Muslim community.


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