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Sunday Times Draws Flak Over Imam Report

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British Imams go digital to communicate with the young Muslims (File)

The Independent Press Standard Organisation orders Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times to amend an article on “hardline Imams”

British Imams go digital to communicate with the young Muslims (File)
British Imams go digital to communicate with the young Muslims (File)

The newspaper reported that a government adviser on Islam faced losing his job after he authorised the “recruitment of 140 prison imams who hold anti-British views”, the Press Gazette reported,

The article claimed the Deobandi Islam preached by the imams was a “hardline Sunni interpretation of Islamic scripture contrary to British value and human rights”.

It carried the headline: “Jails adviser may lose job over hiring hardline imams” with the same text appearing in print and online.

But a complaint by Dr Rafaqut Rashid was upheld by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) after he claimed Deobandi Islam was a reference to an institute of Islamic education in Deoband, India.

He said scholars who studied at the school were often known as ‘Deobandi’ simply by their association with the institute and that they have different interpretations on many matters.

He also claimed not all institutions termed Deobandi follow the same Islam.

The newspaper carried a correction on its website: Our report “Jails adviser may lose job over hiring hardline imams” (News, March 6) should have stated that prison imams “are suspected of” holding anti-British values and attributed to “security sources and other critics” the description of Deobandi Islam as “contrary to British values and human rights”.

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 The IPSO committee said that it was not clear from the article that the claims about Deobandi Islam were the views of the newspaper’s security source and had been wrongly presented as fact.

They acknowledged the position that the vast majority of Muslims who might be identified as Deobandi were not “hardline” and did not hold views “contrary to British values and human rights”.

It has also been ordered to add a footnote to the online article, and publish a print correction, explaining the claims were those of a source, rather than the newspaper’s own view.