Mail Online forced to correct 'Islamic honour killing' headline after Ipso upholds complaint

Publication says it used 'Islamic' in headline as 'a shorthand reference to the religion of the individuals involved', but watchdog says use of word was not justified

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 20 July 2016 07:54
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The press watchdog has upheld a complaint against the Mail Online for its use of the phrase “Islamic honour killing” in a story about the death of a mother of four in Luton.

The Mail argued that it used the word Islamic in the headline as “a shorthand reference to the religion of the individuals involved” in the story about Saima Khan, 34, who was found dead at her home in late May.

The possibility that the woman may have been murdered in an “honour killing” was not in dispute, the Mail said, adding that such incidents “are particularly prevalent in Muslim countries”.

But Ipso has ruled in favour of the complainant, Miqdaad Versi, on grounds of accuracy. The regulator said there was no basis or saying religion played a role in the killing, something which was suggested by the use of the word Islamic in the headline.

In his complaint, Mr Versi said “honour killings” have no basis in Islam and are rooted in culture, not religion. He also noted “the difference between the words ‘Islamic’, meaning relating to Islam as a faith, and ‘Muslim’ meaning relating to a Muslim individual”.

Mail Online has now updated the story on its website, removing “Islamic” from the headline and adding a footnote that reads: “An earlier version of this article said that police were investigating whether Ms Khan may have been murdered in an ‘Islamic honour killing’. We are happy to make clear that Islam as a religion does not support so-called ‘honour killings’.”

In response to Ipso’s ruling, Mr Versi said: “It is vital that news outlets do not encourage Islamophobia through the usage of clearly inaccurate and inflammatory headlines, especially in today's climate.

“Honour killings are barbaric acts based in culture and not in faith.

“The Ipso ruling demonstrates unequivocally that the usage of ‘Islamic honour killing’ constituted a significant breach in the Editor’s Code and I hope that despite being a small correction at the bottom of the article, it encourages the Mail Online to introduce safeguards to deter future inaccuracies.”

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