Mail Online has apologised after the headline of an article detailing the van attack near Finsbury Park mosque referenced “hate cleric Abu Hamza”.
The story in question was published at 1.40am on 19 June just over an hour after the attack, in which a man drove a van into worshippers who had just left the mosque – leaving one man dead.
Journalist for The Independent Shehab Khan posted the original headline on Twitter beside another version published eight minutes later: “White van driver ploughs into and hurts at least 10 people outside well-known Finsbury Park Mosque in new London ‘terror attack’ before Muslims finishing evening prayers tackle suspect to ground.”
First headline from the Daily Mail is disgusting and intentionally justifies terrorism. They knew they went too far and tried to change it. pic.twitter.com/Uh67JA9wfx
— Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) June 19, 2017
After changing the headline Mail Online published the following correction: “An earlier version of this article bore a headline which stated the victims had been attacked outside the Finsbury Park Mosque, where Abu Hamza once preached.
“This was based on initial reports from reputable news agencies, although it has since been clarified that the attack took place closer to the Muslim Welfare House.
“It is also the case, as we made clear in a subsequent article, that in recent years the Mosque has become known as a beacon for community relations and that the Abu Hamza connection is therefore purely historical.
“We are happy to make this clear, and apologise for any contrary impression given.”
The apology came after Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Great Britain complained on Twitter that the article appeared to “victim-blame mosque for terror attack”. He also said that former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson’s cited the story in his interview with Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Mail Online "apologises" for front-page headline that appeared to victim-blame mosque after terror attack & was cited by Tommy Robinson pic.twitter.com/sroFjO2VeH
— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) June 26, 2017
The original headline also received criticism for referring to the suspect as “a clean-shaven white man”.
Versi serves as the assistant secretary general for the Muslim Council of Britain and reports inaccuracies about Muslims in the British media.
In January Versi revealed that the UK national press had corrected over 20 serious inaccuracies involving reporting of Muslims and Islam over the previous year, and he warned that such coverage fueled the far right.