(Photo: Andrew Parsons/i-Images)
In his Christmas hit ‘Mistletoe and Wine’, Cliff Richard famously sang that Christmas is a ‘time for hating and fighting to cease’, implying that hating and fighting are perfectly acceptable during the rest of the year.
However, Britain’s favourite hate-promoting paper the Daily Mail cannot even give up on the mean-spirited bile and animosity for the festive season it seems. On 31st December, it published a vicious and seemingly unprovoked attack on Odara (pictured with Theresa May), a Muslim-led women’s support group that has been working to combat extremism in the Midlands.
The article claimed that members of the group are anti-Semitic and homophobic, despite the group’s image and mission statement as inclusive and against all forms of discrimination.
The article went on to highlight a Facebook post from 2013 made by the group’s founder Aysha Iqbal concerning a conspiracy that Israel was involved in the Sandy Hook mass shooting in the US, along with old Facebook posts by a former Odara volunteer that expressed homophobic views and that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’.
But it turns out that Ms Iqbal’s post on the US shooting was a satirical post mocking the many conspiracy theories doing the rounds among more extremist anti-Jewish Muslims. Odara does a lot of work to prevent the radicalisation of young Muslim women and ridiculing the extremism you’re challenging is one tool that can be used.
A statement issued on the group’s website says: ‘we do not believe that Israel was involved in the despicable Sandy Hook Massacre, the video in the post was shocking and a huge distortion of the reality of the terrorism we face and we apologise if that post had inadventently given an impression to the contrary.’
Regarding the posts by the volunteer, it appears that she has since left Odara but the posts were made before she started doing development work with the group, when she was a young person that could have drifted down a path towards extremism.
She told the Mail: ‘Since then I have developed personally and professionally and reject any of the views in question’.
In its statement, Odara says the volunteer is ‘an example of someone we have engaged with to reflect on her views’, adding that ‘in her youthful activism (she) fell for such conspiracy theories but our work with this individual has helped her to consider why these views are wrong’.
But despite these sentiments being made clear to the Daily Mail, the paper persisted with its hatchet job, misleading readers with an inflammatory headline and slipping in the true details down near the end of the article.
The irony is that the Daily Mail loves to smear the reputation of individuals by digging up any information from their past, no matter how tenuous, yet this paper has the most shameful past of its own.
The paper’s founder and former owner Lord Rothermere was a good friend of Adolf Hitler throughout the 1930s and wrote to him regularly, including a letter at the start of 1939 wishing the Nazi leader ‘another successful year’ (see pictures below). This was the year that Hitler’s troops invaded Poland, killing hundreds and thousands of Poles in western Poland.
Former Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere with friend Adolf Hitler and, below, letter sent from Rothermere to Hitler in 1939.
The Daily Mail under Lord Rothermere also supported Fascism both in Britain and abroad in the 1930s, as can be seen with this article below.
As for the paper’s own past associations with ‘anti-Semitism’, it was dismissing Jewish immigrants fleeing east European pogroms as ‘so-called refugees’ as early as 1900, writing in February about a boat bringing 600 refugees to Southampton ‘There were scarcely a hundred of them that had, by right, deserved such help and these were the Englishmen of the party. The rest were Jews’.
This attitude continued right up until 1938 when the paper complained of ‘German Jews pouring into the country’.
The only difference is that, whereas many of the targets of the Daily Mail are either innocent of the charges or have turned over a new leaf, the paper itself is just as despicable, small-minded and prejudiced as it was all those years ago.
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