THE Liberal Democrats may be delighted that their new Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary candidate has the capacity to generate national newspapers headlines. But there is frustration in Maajid Nawaz’s team already about at least one chunk of the coverage greeting his selection. The Daily Mail online labels him as a ‘convicted former Islamist’ in its headline.
You can see the irritation this has caused among his tweets and those from his supporters. Nawaz, who has written for a host of national newspapers including articles for the Mail, hasn’t been found guilty in a UK court and the word conviction relates to his time he spent locked up in Egypt under the Mubarak regime. As he finds himself reminding people, more often than he would like, that Amnesty International at that time described him as a ‘prisoner of conscience’.
There has, I understand, been some gentle attempts to ask the Daily Mail to edit its headline – no lawyers involved – and in the smaller print sub-headings there is some sort of explanation. But these things always leave a little smudge of adhesive and in the future when rushed journalists searching for a potted bio of Nawaz’s startling life, with an impeding deadline that doesn’t leave time to read his memoir Radical, this may be among the press clippings they refer to and – who knows? – repeat.
The comments underneath the Mail’s story are already stuffed with people insisting his ‘conviction’ means he should be barred from the House of Commons,
The Times published a clarification to their piece about Nawaz, which initially had a similar tone, this morning.