Leading British Muslim and interfaith organizations have signed a letter of complaint to Daily Mail’s editor Paul Dacre, condemning an article that deployed hateful Muslim stereotypes and used slurs commonly found in racist and far-right websites.
“We write to express our condemnation of a recent article published by Richard Littlejohn in your newspaper. Entitled “Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland”, Mr Littlejohn deploys the most hateful stereotypes of Muslims to attack an individual,” the letter, signed by some 25 Islamic and interfaith organizations and published by Muslim Council of Britain website, reads.
“Our condemnation is not about the attacks on Mr Haitham al-Haddad: he is perfectly capable of responding to the accusations put to him if minded to do so.
“Many of us may well disagree with the views attributed to him. Rather, we are speaking out at the insidious and hateful tropes Mr Littlejohn uses for his argument,” it added.
Muslims’ anger followed the publication of an article by columnist Richard Littlejohn.
The column, headlined Jolly jihadi boys' outing to Legoland, "deployed hateful Muslim stereotypes" and "used slurs commonly found in racist and far-right websites."
Entitled “Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland”, the article satirizes a community event that is to be held at the theme park, organized through a private group booking.
Littlejohn uses hateful tropes to fill his article, using jokes that the group, which will in real life have parents and children in attendance, will travel to Legoland in a coach “...packed with explosives stops in Parliament Square. As Big Ben strikes ten, driver will blow himself up”.
As a result of Littlejohn's article, far-right groups are threatening to turn up at Legoland, thus causing distress to the children present.
The plans for the fun day were announced by Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) after they hired Legoland Park in Windsor, Berkshire, on March 9.
The day of “Halal entertainment” was suggested after the success of an earlier event that was hosted in Chessington World of Adventures theme park in Surrey for an Eid Fun Day last November.
In the controversial article, the writer wrote that one coach would be "packed with explosives" and, after stopping in Parliament Square, the "driver will blow himself up."
“Mr Littlejohn may think he is humorous, satirical in fact. But there is nothing funny about inciting hatred,” the letter reads.
“The language he deploys is exactly the same as those used by racists and the far-right. One needs only to peruse the comments below his article online to see the hatred against Muslims Mr Littlejohn has generated.
“Would you allow similar hateful stereotypes to be used when writing about other faith or race communities?
“Mr Littlejohn may suggest his words of hatred are directed at one figure rather than mainstream Muslims. This is a poor excuse. He accuses one figure of using hate speech by deploying hate speech himself.”
The Muslim groups added that “Littlejohn's article is the worst form of bigotry” adding that it “goes beyond causing offence. Your newspaper has published an incitement to hate Muslims.”
Hostility against British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.7 million, has been on the rise since 2005’s 7/7 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.