29th September 1998
“There is a danger that whole communities, sometimes whole races, are deemed at worst guilty, at best suspicious, because of the (alleged) actions of a few of their members. It is wrong to suggest that all Muslims are extremists. In our headline yesterday on the arrest of several men in London by anti-terrorist police it was not our intention to cause offence to the Muslim Community. We’re sorry.”
Such was the exceptional editorial published by the Express on Friday the 25 September. The banner headline on the front page of the previous day’s Express shouted:
“Moslem plot to bomb London”
This prompted immediate action from the MCB’s Media response unit, which conveyed to the editor, Ms Rosie Boycott, the communities concern over the inflammatory headline and its dangerous implications for the peace of the community.
“Please except my genuine apologies for any offence caused to the Muslim Community by this morning’s headline” Ms Boycott wrote in a letter to Iqbal Sacranie, the Secretary General of the MCB. “In no way did the Express intend to imply that the Moslems (sic) of Great Britain were involved in a campaign to bomb the capital nor did it wish to suggest that they would be supportive of such a campaign”.
Commenting on the editorial published by the Express, Mr Sacranie said “The MCB welcomes this genuine expression of contrition from the Editor and hopes that it will serve as an example to others who indulge in the demonisation of Muslims in Britain”.
“The Muslim Community expects the Editors of national newspapers and other media to act fairly and responsibly and to keep in view the hurt and damage any sensationalist or sweeping statements can bring to the community and community relations”.