6th August 1999
Letter to the MAIL ON SUNDAY :
Dear Mr. Forgham,
Mail on Sunday, August 1, 1999
We refer to our phone conversation of this morning relating to the Valerie Flemming story that you published last Sunday, August 1, 1999.
We hope the concerned feature editor was not thoughtful enough when he decided to give the story a grossly offensive title viz. ‘THE KORAN TURNED HIM INTO A DANGEROUS MUSLIM FANATIC’.
Wild and offensive as it would have still been but even Ms Flemming had made no such allegation in her interview and the irrelevant heading seems to have come out of an inventive and possibly Islamophobic imagination.
I do not think we have to labour the point that the heading was not only totally out of context, it was derogatory and sacrilegious. It was tantamount to inciting religious hatred against Islam and Muslims. May I therefore, request you to please do the correct thing which all editors do: that is to publish an appropriately worded and prominently placed apology in this Sunday’s issue of your otherwise lively and popular weekly.
We have been inundated with calls from members of the British Muslim community who feel greatly outraged and I am sure you would not only publish the apology but also advise your journalists not to lose their objectivity when writing a story which somehow involved a person carrying a Muslim name.
We don’t hold that a person carrying a Muslim name is infallible, but we do want you to appreciate that when a Muslim committed a civil or political crime he did so in disregard of ‘The Koran’ and not because of ‘The Koran’, in the same way as the wayward behaviour of a criminal who happened to be a Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist or Christian, cannot be attributed to his/her holy scripture.
Incidentally, we would also appreciate if you could amend you house style to correctly spell the Qur’an as ‘The Qu’ran’ and not as ‘The Koran’. Though unintended, it hurts a Muslim in the same way as it would anyone else if his/her proper name was misspelled and mispronounced.
Reply from the Managing Editor, MAIL ON SUNDAY :
Daer Mr Sacranie
Thank you for your letter today and our telephone conversations regarding the article on Page 37 of The Mail on Sunday last week. As you know we will be publishing a letter from you together with an apology for any offence caused, on the Letters Page this Sunday.
The headline reflected the facts as we believe they were outlined in the article. After Mustafa Mostafa, as he was then know, married Valerie Fleming they studied the Qur’an together each night. It was only after this that he became a fanatic – a man determined, as the article says, to “destroy the decadence of the West and attack liberal Islamic regimes.” It is clear that this was how he misinterpreted the teachings of the Qur’an. As you said in our conversation, any sensible person reading the Qur’an would not misuse it in this wasy.
We apologise for the offence the headline caused you and fellow Muslims but I can assure you that it was not our intention to do so. We hold Islam – and indeed all the world’s major religions – in the deepest respect and it is our policy not to differectiate between people on grounds of sex, race or religion.