The Guardian reports that the Sunday Express Newspaper has apologised and paid damages to the King Fahad Academy, a private school based in west London, after it published a libelous front page story last year in which it wrongly claimed that the school taught extreme Islam.
From the Guardian:
“The Sunday Express has apologised and paid damages to a London school it falsely claimed taught an extreme form of Islam.
“Northern & Shell's Sunday title published a front-page story on 12 June 2011, headlined "Spies in schools to hunt fanatics", in which it wrongly stated that the King Fahad Academy in Acton, west London, taught extreme Islam.
“The article, which was also published on the paper's website, falsely suggested that the academy school had been infiltrated by Islamic fanatics.
“Clare Kissin, counsel for the King Fahad Academy, said in a statement at the high court in London on Tuesday: "The King Fahad Academy does not teach an extreme form of Islam, nor does it teach its students antisemitism or any form of racism and it has not been infiltrated by Islamic fanatics."
“The Sunday Express apologised for the article and said it regretted the distress caused. The paper agreed to pay an undisclosed amount in damages and legal costs to the school.”
The director of the school, Dr Sumaya Alyusuf stated that she was pleased with the outcome and that, "The school can now concentrate on its mission to provide a world class international education to students through a well-balanced curriculum, which aims to produce citizens who appreciate the multicultural world in which we live."
The King Fahad Academy, has been the subject of something of a media witch hunt in recent years. As Islamophobia Watch has documented, a furore was made in 2007 over claims that the school was using textbooks that used racist and offensive terms to describe Christians and Jews. The school was cleared of any wrongdoing, and has since received very positive appraisal from the school standards body, Ofsted, which has described its quality of teaching as “good overall, with some outstanding practices.'' The Academy's ethos was described in a review as promoting “respect and harmony between different cultures and beliefs.”
The Academy is not alone in being the subject of a witch hunts. A report published by the Institute of Public Policy Research last year found that ‘madrassas’ have been the subject of increasing media attention with national newspapers showing tendencies to publish stories with a negative slant, despite the positive things that many of them achieve.
It is also worth noting that Express Newspapers have been among the worst culprits when it comes to publishing stories which scaremonger about Muslims and Islam. Northern and Shell- the group behind the Express Newspapers as well as the Daily Star and the Star on Sunday, withdrew from the Press Complaints Commission in 2011, effectively withdrawing from compliance with the press body's Code of Practice. As was pointed out in evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, these papers have been serial offenders in publishing Islamophobic stories. It remains to be seen whether a new press regulator will have the teeth required to prevent such irresponsible journalistic practices from occurring in the future.
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