The independent press regulator has received more than 10 complaints about Rod Liddle’s article in The Sunday Times, which suggested British Islamists should “blow themselves up” in east London.
Criticism has been mounting on the newspaper over its decision to publish the column branded “racist” and “inflammatory”.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) confirmed to i it had received complaints about article, with the headline “Chip in and we’ll help Choudary on his way to Paradise,” under Clause 12 (Discrimination) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
IPSO said it was processing the complaints but could not provide further information at this point.
Column on Anjem Choudary release
In Sunday’s article, Mr Liddle discussed the release of radical preacher Anjem Choudary from prison.
“Anjem and I fervently agree on one important issue, though,” wrote Mr Liddle. “He has urged British Islamists to leave the country and blow themselves up. Me too. Actually, I don’t really mind if they don’t leave the country, so long as they blow themselves up – somewhere a decent distance from where the rest of us live.
He then mentioned one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in the country: “Tower Hamlets, for example.”
Mr Liddle’s language was branded “deeply insulting,” with Labour Co-Operative MP Anna Turley tweeting: “Enough [The Sunday Times]. You cannot keep the disgusting racist Rod Liddle on your books any longer.”
Tell Mama, a group which measures anti-Muslim incidents in the UK, accused him of Islamophobia.
“We condemn the shocking choice of language regarding Tower Hamlets in Rod Liddle’s latest Sunday Times column. We intend to raise this further with IPSO and the newspaper directly,” the group said.
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, called the column “utterly appalling”.
“It is deeply insulting to Londoners and particularly those who lost loved ones in the Canary Wharf bombing in 1996, or have been affected by other violent acts,” he said in a statement published on Twitter.
“The kind of politics being peddled here is polarising and extremely dangerous. The ‘us and them’ language is unacceptable and not befitting of mainstream media in 2018, or at any time.”
Mr Biggs said he intended to ask The Sunday Times “for a full apology and to consider whether someone with these views should be writing for them at all”.
Dr Zubaida Haque, deputy director of the race equality think tank Runnymede Trust, told i it was important that IPSO and The Sunday Times did not “dismiss [Mr] Liddle’s anti-Muslim racist comments as merely controversy-baiting”.
That, she said, would underplay “the everyday impact of racist narratives and ignore some of the key factors of hate crime”.
“Hate crime doesn’t occur in a social vacuum. Political and media narratives play a strong part in what’s acceptable and who belongs.
“What’s particularly deplorable is how Rod Liddle has been continuously allowed to write his racist bile without any censoring. Is the message from IPSO (and The Sunday Times) that racism and racist violence against Muslim people is acceptable and permissible? We have been sleepwalking into the far right agenda of anti-Muslim racism, enabling it to become normalised and erroneously distinguishing it from all other cultural forms of racism.”
In April, IPSO received 19 complaints over an article by Mr Liddle in The Sunday Times said the Second Severn Crossing linked Wales with the “first world”.