Ipso: Mail Online wrong to use ‘Islamic honour killing’ in headline
A headline referring to an “Islamic honour killing” in Luton wrongly suggested that the crime had been motivated by religion.
This article titled “Ipso: Mail Online wrong to use ‘Islamic honour killing’ in headline” was written by Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 20th July 2016 13.18 UTC
A headline referring to an “Islamic honour killing” wrongly suggested that the crime had been motivated by religion, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) has ruled following a complaint against the Mail Online.
The press watchdog said the phrase “Islamic honour killing” suggested that “the killing had been motivated by Islam, when there was no basis for saying that religion had played a role in this killing”.
It rejected the Mail Online’s explanation that “in this context, ‘Islamic’ had simply referred to the religion of those involved”.
The article concerned the killing of Saima Khan in Luton in May while most of her family were attending a funeral at a nearby mosque. Khan’s sister was subsequently charged with murder.
The original headline on the Mail Online story reporting the murder was “Mother of four stabbed to death while her family were at a funeral ‘may have been murdered in Islamic honour killing’”.
A complaint was lodged by Miqdaad Versi, assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain but acting in a personal capacity, who said said “honour killings” were rooted in culture not religion.
Versi said that Islamic referred to Islam as a faith, whereas Muslim related to an individual.
According to Ipso, the Mail Online said its headline indicated that the killing may have been related to the religion of those concerned. It did not accept that the phrase “Islamic honour killing” would have suggested to readers that honour killings are approved of by Islam, Ipso said.
However, the publication offered to remove the word “Islamic” from the headline and publish an explanatory footnote to the story.
Versi declined the offer, instead asking Ipso to adjudicate.
He told the Guardian: “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 editors’ code.”
Following the ruling, the Mail Online amended its headline to “Mother of four stabbed to death while her family were at a funeral ‘may have been murdered in honour killing’”, and added a footnote stating: “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’.”
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