The Daily Star was forced to withdraw a spoof “Daily Fatwa” page just before the presses started rolling last night in the face of a revolt from the paper’s NUJ union chapel (branch).
Socialist Worker congratulates them on their stand and calls on other journalists and print workers to take similar action in such circumstances.
The page purported to show how the paper would look under Muslim law. It included material that would have given great offence to the Muslim community.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said, “This was an outrageous and hugely irresponsible idea which fortunately our chapel courageously resisted and in so doing protected both the paper and its staff from possible serious repercussions.
“The union’s code of conduct condemns this sort of gratuitous material which is likely to encourage discrimination and hatred in our society. We are calling on the Daily Star to act wisely and responsibly and put this moment of madness behind them for good.”
The Star's new deputy editor Ben Knowles – who joined the paper from the magazine Zoo in September - was in charge at the time.
Planned features on the page headed “How your favourite paper would look under Muslim law” included a “Page 3 burqa babes special” and a blank editorial stamped “censored”.
It is understood that the page had been signed off by senior executives when around 12 members of the Daily Star chapel held an emergency NUJ meeting at 8.30pm.
They passed a motion stating: “This National Union of Journalists chapel expresses its deep concern at the content of page 6 in tomorrow's Daily Star which we consider to be deliberately offensive to Muslims.
'The chapel fears that this editorial content poses a very serious risk of violent and dangerous reprisals from religious fanatics who may take offence at these articles. This may place the staff in great jeopardy. This chapel urges the management to remove the content immediately.'
According to a source at the paper editors have not ruled out running the story tomorrow.
It is not the first time NUJ members at Express Newspapers have made protests about editorial direction. They have previously written to the Press Complaints Commission to complain about claimed pressure to write anti-Gypsy articles.