Far right ‘posed as journalists to spread anti-Muslim lies’

A Muslim cleric leaves the Regent’s Park Mosque in London after attending a meeting called by the Muslim Council of Britain. (AFP/File)
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Updated 12 May 2020

Far right ‘posed as journalists to spread anti-Muslim lies’

  • Some extreme right-wing groups are trying to use the pandemic to create division

LONDON: Far-right activists in the UK are posing as journalists to spread fake news about Muslims breaking coronavirus lockdown restrictions during Ramadan, a prominent British imam has said.

Far-right extremists are exploiting the lockdown “to spread hatred of Muslims,” Qari Asim, chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and the government’s adviser on Islamophobia, told The Telegraph newspaper.

“We’ve had reports that people have been going around mosques (in West Yorkshire) pretending to be independent journalists and talking to people, and effectively again trying to gather information and trying to make some footage saying Muslims are still congregating,” said Asim, the imam at Makkah Mosque in the northern city of Leeds.

Churches, mosques and other places of worship have been closed since the lockdown began in March to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. The restrictions have coincided with Muslims celebrating Ramadan.

Under normal circumstances, Muslims would visit their local mosque, fast during the day and share iftar. But while this is not possible, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has urged people to celebrate iftars over online video call software.

There have been cases of social media posts alleging that Muslims are ignoring the rules to gather in the evenings and flout restrictions on funerals.

“It’s extremely disappointing that even during such unprecedented times of national emergency, some people have continued to spread hatred of Muslims and unsubstantiated claims that an increase in coronavirus cases will happen during Ramadan because most Muslims tend to have social gatherings,” the MCB said.

“Some extreme right-wing groups are trying to use the pandemic to create division. So they’re targeting Muslims, in a way which is deplorable … We call on people to stand united and say that such unsubstantiated claims are fake news and should be challenged robustly.”

Asim said Makkah Mosque was closed before the lockdown, but “there are still some people going around and spreading some videos and images to say that Muslims are still congregating — but those images and videos were from well before the pandemic.”

Egyptian YouTubers could face jail time for 'blackface' prank on daughter

Updated 17 September 2020

Egyptian YouTubers could face jail time for 'blackface' prank on daughter

CAIRO: Egyptian YouTubers Ahmad Hassan and his wife Zeinab could face a possible jail term, according to a child expert, after a prank video showed them scaring their infant daughter and laughing as she cried. 

Dr. Sahar Al-Sunbati, undersecretary of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood in Egypt, the incident of Zeinab's intimidation of her daughter was monitored by the council.

Al-Sunbati was quoted on TV channel Saad El-Balad saying that a report was submitted to the Public Prosecutor's Office over the incident and that the couple could face a jail term for their act. 

The couple filmed their daughter’s reaction to seeing her mother Zeinab after she had applied brown paint to her face to prank her child. 

Zeinab can be seen laughing as her frightened daughter cries and screams at her mother’s unfamiliar face.  

The video was met with outrage and people accused the parents of mistreating and exploiting their child for fame on social media.

Some users called on authorities to save the innocent child from her parents.

The couple have a YouTube channel where they share videos of their daily life and has five million subscribes.

Applying black and brown face paint - known as "blackface" - is considered a symbol of racism given its historic associations with negative portrayals of African-Americans.