Thursday, July 15 2004 @ 02:38 PM MSD
|A British Muslim organization said on Wednesday, July 14, it will sue the Sunday Telegraph for "falsely attributing" statements to prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yussef Qaradawi. |
"We are seeking avenues and what legal action to take against the paper, known for its right-wing stands and Islamophobic articles," Anas Al-Tikriti, the spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), told IslamOnline.net over phone from London.
He stressed that the MAB wants a "full apology from the paper as well as resignation of the two writers of the story, published on Sunday, July 11.
The reporters alleged that Qaradawi said that rape victims should be punished if they have dressed immodestly.
Although the Telegraph claimed "a panel, headed by Qaradawi" made the pronouncement in a fatwa published by IslamOnline.net, the website's officials denied Qaradawi has anything to do with the edict.
"A simple reading of the page in question shows that Qaradawi did not write these statements," said Kamal Badr, who wrote them.
He added that the only time Qaradawi was mentioned inside the page was to cite his encouragement of support for rape victims.
As for the British newspaper argument on punishing raped women by laying the blame on them in some cases, he stressed that his statements, which were made in response to a relevant question, states in bold letters that "raped women are not punished in Islam".
He added that the phrases reported by the British newspaper were "taken out of context. This is falsification of the truth, nothing more nothing less."
Badr reiterated that Islam calls for punishing rapists, adding that to punish a woman for being raped is part of the "law of the jungle".
MAB dismissed the Telegraph story as part of a "smear campaign" targeting Qaradawi, after a media campaign against the veteran scholar's visit to London "suffered considerable defeat".
"This demonstrates to us that the right-wing media in attempting to stoke up the flames of hate against the eminent Muslim scholar have had to resort to lying to make any sort of case against him," the group said in a press release.
"We are thankful that their dodgy journalism has been exposed – the article wasn’t just ‘sexed up’, it was made up."
Tikriti said the "Telegraph is well-known Islamophobic publication. They promote the right-wing statements."
He recalled that Lord Conrad, the Telegraph's former shareholder, and his wife, Barbara Aniel, a columnist in the newspaper before being accused of abusing her position, were pro-Zionists.
"Anriel was the speech writer of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon".
London Mayor Ken Livingstone had apologized to Qaradawi for the vile campaign unleashed against him and invited the prominent scholar back to London next October.
"On behalf of the people of London, I want to apologize to the Sheikh for the outbreak of xenophobia and hysteria in some sections of the tabloid press which demonstrated an underlying ignorance of Islam," he said.
For British Muslims, by falsely attributing to Qaradawi statements he never made the Telegraph would obstruct efforts for their integration in society.
The story has been seized upon by eager figures known for their opposition to Muslims such as Peter Tatchell, who is not only quoted in the Telegraph article, but has since repeated the falsehood on BBC’s Newsnight.
"It is unfair to launch a campaign on a man who was received with a standing ovation in all the events he attend here and even supported by the mayor of London," said Soha El-Samman, a resident of Reading in Berkshire.
But she said the response of Muslims to the entire anti-Qaradawi campaign yielded positive impact.
"With the failure of attacks on Qaradawi, we feel how strong we are now while acting as a lobby getting much influence."
Many others of the two-million Muslim community in Britain hope the lobby will stand up to the more crucial battle of acceptance in the European country.
The government will support a festival called Islam Expo 2005 that will be held in London with millions of pounds.
"We want to remove the tarnished image of Muslims in media and in the minds of Britons, who suffer lack of knowledge on the religion and its principles," Zaher Biruui, the director of the political perspective for studies and consultation organization.
"We still have a long way to go," he added.