Elham Asaad Buaras
The Times newspaper has been condemned by the police over the headline to a story about the killing of local imam Jalal Uddin in Rochdale which the newspaper dubbed the “sex grooming town”.
The headline: ‘Imam beaten to death in sex grooming town’ appeared on February 20. The online headline has now changed to remove the final three words. Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said on Twitter: “This is an awful headline, I hope @thetimes can apologise to Mr Uddin’s family and, indeed, the people of Rochdale.”
Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, published an open letter to The Times on Twitter. In it he said: “The headline has no relevance to the horrific murder.”
He added, “We have strong relationships with communities in Rochdale and I have received much feedback about the outrage that the article has caused…
“Your headline and its irrelevance to this case have the potential to cause community tension. It is also offensive to the thousands of peaceful law abiding Muslims and non Muslims living in Rochdale, who are shocked by this murder.
“Greater Manchester Police detectives remain open minded about the circumstances behind this murder. We have not ruled out that the murder may be racially motivated, but at this stage we don’t have evidence to suggest it is either. I would hope in the circumstances you issue an immediate apology and provide a response.”
— Simon Danczuk (@SimonDanczuk) 20 February 2016
Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi described the headline as “appalling”.
Posting a link to the police’s letter on social media, Qureshi, who has previously voiced her opposition to how Muslims are often portrayed in the media, tweeted: “Important letter to Times editor on its appalling headline on the brutal and horrific murder of an Imam in Rochdale.”
This is not the first time the newspaper has ran a highly dubious headline involving Muslims in March last year the paper ran the provocative headline ‘Call for national debate on Muslim sex grooming’.
A 21-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Uddin.
Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 21, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, was charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder and appeared at Bury magistrates court on February 29.
Investigating officers arrested Syeedy along with a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of murder. The 17-year-old is on bail until 20 April.
The Times did not respond to requests for a comment.