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Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh sorry for ‘The Muslim Problem’ offence – but says ‘fake outrage’ is bid to ‘smother free speech’

By Dominic Ponsford

Sun columnist Trevor Kavanagh has stood by his article about Muslim sex gangs accusing critics of a “concocted explosion of Labour and Islamic hysteria”.

But he has apologised to anyone who was offended by use of the term “The Muslim Problem” saying any Nazi undertones to this choice of words were unintentional.

He said: “This fake fury was largely confined to a small circulation, mostly-online newspaper and a letter from Labour lefties dragooned by the Muslim Council of Britain.”

Kavanagh said it was “It was a ludicrous, offensive and perverse distortion of the truth” to accuse him of fomenting a “Nazi-style final solution” with his choice of words.

He said: “Fake claims of Islamophobia are the price journalists risk today if we dare question the conduct of a minority hostile to the host community.”

Kavanagh said: “The abuse of women by Muslims, says Trevor Phillips, is ‘on an industrial scale’.

“What the perpetrators have in common is their proclaimed faith. They are Muslims, and many of them would claim to be practising. It is not Islamophobic to point this out.”

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“My mistake, apparently, was to describe this as ‘the Muslim Problem’.

“I can honestly say it never occurred to me that this could be interpreted as a play on ‘the Jewish Problem’ and I will happily apologise to anyone who is thus offended.”

Talking about a letter condemning his column signed by 105 MPs, he said: “This fake outrage is more than simply a personal attack on me or upon the Sun newspaper. It is a pernicious attempt to stifle and smother free speech.

“The letter from the MPs fails to pinpoint a single mistake or error of fact in my article. It even concedes there are no grounds at all for referring this to IPSO for adjudication. It infringes none of the Editors’ Rules of Conduct.

“The letter is nothing less than an attempt to gag not just me but anyone else who dares to venture an opinion which contradicts their narrow point of view.”

Shadow equality minister Sarah Champion said in a Sun column on Monday: “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.”

She resigned yesterday beause of what she called her “extremely poor choice of words”.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Equality and Human Rights Commission chief executive, said: “It is this climate where problems cannot be frankly discussed and tackled, that led to neglect, for so long, of the victims of these terrible crimes.

“It is a real shame that a respected advocate of equality has felt the need to step down due to an over-sensitivity about language.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn explained Champion’s departure to Channel 4 News: “We are not going to blame any particular group or demonise any particular group. The issue is one of safety of individuals.”

The Daily Mail said today described Champion’s resignation as “deeply chilling”. It said: “How can a social ill ever be addressed if the intolerant Left bans people from even discussing it?”

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