Washington Post condemned for referring to Al-Baghdadi as ‘austere religious scholar’

The original headline referred to Al-Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar”. (Screengrab)
  • Headline for the Daesh leader's obituary sparks anger and ridicule
  • Washington Post says it quickly changed the text which should never have read that way

LONDON: The Washington Post has been widely condemned and mocked after referring to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar” in an obituary headline. 

The Daesh leader blew himself up during a US military raid to capture him in northwest Syria  on Saturday night.

Donald Trump said Al-Baghdadi, who oversaw a brutal occupation of large parts of Syria and Iraq, died a “coward” and “like a dog” when he was cornered in a tunnel.

Yet despite Al-Baghdadi’s association with massacres, beheadings and atrocities, the Washington Post summed up the extremist’s life with the headline: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.”

Washington Post swiftly changed the headline to say: “extremist leader of Islamic State.” (Screengrab)

The headline of the article, published on Sunday after Trump’s announcement, was later changed to refer to Al-Baghdadi as an “extremist leader of Islamic State.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the headline appalling and sick.

"The fact that a national newspaper would describe this person as an 'austere scholar' in their headline – in the immediate aftermath of the achievements of President Trump and the administration, is truly appalling," he told Fox News

The White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that she had “no words” regarding the headline.



A Washington Post spokeswoman said: “Regarding our Al-Baghdadi obituary, the headline should never have read that way and we changed it quickly.”

The headline was also widely mocked on social media with many people posting equivalent headlines for some of histories most reviled figures under #WaPoDeathNotices.

"Adolf Hitler, dedicated art enthusiast, animal rights activist, and talented orator, dies at 56," one tweet read.



“Genghis Khan, accomplished horseman and indefatigable traveler, breathes his last,” read another.