On the 20th February, in Regents Park Mosque, London, the Muaddin (person who calls to prayer) was stabbed in the shoulder, although some early reports suggested the neck. For a city used to fatal stabbings on a daily basis, the response was quite extraordinary, no doubt as video footage and early reports showed a ‘white man’ was responsible for the attack. The more emotionally calm among us do not need reminders that Islam is a religion not a race, and so the breathless excitement to put a narrative out there showed the true colours of more than a few people.
Predictably quick out of the blocks was Miqdaad Versi, activist and media spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, pouncing on a (now muted or deleted) tweet from Murshid (@MurshHabib).
We could not find any instance of Miqdaad specifying skin colour during past instances of jihad attacks, yet as soon as the news broke, Versi tweeted the fact this man was ‘white’ which begs a few questions, not least:
Are we to infer that it would be less worrying if a ‘brown male’ had stabbed the Muaddin?
Either way, Miqdaad was guilty of spreading fake news and creating a false narrative, as the assailant hadn’t run into the mosque at all. He was attending prayer as he had done for some time, and as the videos showed wasn’t wearing shoes and socks. Versi endlessly complains about the media, yet a little more time and reflection could have prevented his errors of judgement, fuelling a message of anger and division.
Maybe Miqdaad could comment on news where the information is more concrete, such as the slaughter of 24 Christians in Mali by Jihadis two days earlier. He strangely overlooked this, despite tweeting outrage that the Hanau killings in Germany were not worded in a manner he approved of. Perhaps Miqdaad places less value on the lives of black people in Africa, or is there another reason he chooses to ignore such incidents?
Which brings us back to our friend Murshid, the originator of the fake news. Murshid seems to have been there at the scene as he was asked by media outlets if they could use the photos in his timeline, and he didn’t deny they were his when replying. He did however deny use of the photos to right wing press such as the Daily Mail and the Sun, much to the delight of activists in his twitter feed. Presumably Murshid (and the activists) feel those publications are guilty of spreading fake, divisive or racially charged news. Yet, as a man purporting to be at the scene, he tweeted that the attacker was (a) racist and (b) had rushed into the Mosque. Murshid cannot have known whether this attacker is a racist, and he certainly didn’t ‘rush into the Mosque’. But as we see he was happy to start this fake news and create a narrative pounced on by others. At time of writing, Miqdaad hasn’t deleted his tweet, but Murshid has, presumably from the backlash to his own bigotry.
Never one to miss the chance to try and appear the voice of reason, Brendan ‘grab em by the throat’ Cox also leapt on Murshid’s fake news tweet. The activist, who has had to apologise for his aggressive treatment of women and is linked to several extreme far left organisations such as Hope Note Hate, Cox also proclaimed that he knew the motives of the attacker before any information was released – terrorism.
How did Cox know that ‘spreading fear was the attacker’s aim’?
At time of writing, detailed information still hasn’t been released.
Again, an unhelpful jumping to conclusions.
The Muaddin of the Mosque is thankfully already out of hospital as his injury was not life threatening and the suspect has been arrested and is in custody.