Saturday 16 August 2008

Apologising to the praying bus driver.

A bad weekend for the Sun newspaper (see previous post) is rounded off by a truly humiliating apology:

"AN article on March 29, “Everyone off my bus, I need to pray”, stated that Arunas Raulynaitis, a London bus driver and a Muslim, asked passengers to leave his bus so he could pray and that passengers later refused to re-board the bus because they saw a ruck-sack which made them think he might be a fanatic.

The article included pictures of Mr Raulynaitis praying.

We now accept that these allegations were completely untrue.

Mr Raulynaitis is not a fanatic and he did not ask passengers to leave his bus to allow him to pray.

In fact, he was praying during his statutory rest break.

We apologise to Mr Raulynaitis for the embarrassment and distress caused."

This is after Peter Oborne and his Dispatches documentary on Islamophobia exposed the Sun's original story, featured on my blog in these two posts, as completely untrue. The Sun chose to believe the story of a 21-year-old plumber who had arrived on the scene late rather than wait for the bus company's own investigation, which showed that his account was nonsense. The damage then though had already been done: the story had flung around the moral internet arbiters waiting for any sign of Muslims daring to step out of line, and had been presented as yet another example of "Dhimmitude".

Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun's ex-political editor responded to Oborne's documentary with... Islamophobia. Perhaps he already knew that the paper was going to have to apologise to Arunas Raulynaitis and so was giving it a kicking before the paper had to accept its own. Perhaps he's just ignorant.

Either way, it's far from the first time the Sun's had to apologise for printing stories which have shamelessly assaulted a religion and a community as a whole on hardly any evidence whatsoever. It previously had to admit that its article on "Muslim yobs" attacking a house which soldiers had looked at with a view to moving in was inaccurate after the most likely explanation it turned out was that it was in fact the local residents who had vandalised the house, fearing the soldiers would lower both the tone and house prices. It goes without saying that such unsubstantiated journalism threatens community relations and is often used by extremists, even after such reports have been proved false, to stir up hate. Reporting such topics requires great care, care which the Sun has neither the time nor the inclination to use.


Anonymous said...

is often used by extremists, even after such reports have been proved false, to stir up hate.

It's amazing how quickly an apology or correction can get forgotten.

asquith said...

That's why they do it, Sim-O. They know full well that the original article will seep into people's minds, the retraction won't. Robert Murat & Colin Stagg will testify to that.

Anonymous said...

I know that's why they...oh, nevermind.