Thursday, 26 February 2009

Sun pays damages for 'completely untrue' anti-Islam story

The Sun has paid out £30,000 to a Muslim bus driver whose life it has wrecked.

A story on 29 March 2008 ('Get off my bus, I need to pray') revealed:

A MUSLIM bus driver told stunned passengers to get off so he could PRAY. The white Islamic convert rolled out his prayer mat in the aisle and knelt on the floor facing Mecca...“Eventually everyone started complaining. One woman said, ‘What the hell are you doing? I’m going to be late for work’.”

After a few minutes the driver calmly got up, opened the doors and asked everyone back on board. But they saw a rucksack lying on the floor of the red single-decker and feared he might be a fanatic. So they all refused. The passenger added: “One chap said, ‘I’m not getting on there now’.

Yesterday the driver, who said his name was Hrun, told The Sun: “I asked everyone to get off because I needed to pray. I was running late and had not had time. I pray five times a day as a Muslim — but I don’t normally ask people to get off the bus to do it.”

Turns out, this was all total bullshit. The Sun apologised - in an unusually unequivocal way - 5 months later:
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.

But after 5 months, it's not going to register at all. It's far too bloody long to correct such a story. In the meantime, Stormfront, Freerepublic and loads of other deeply unpleasant anti-Islam blogs published it and got lots of deeply unpleasant comments in response (Google the headline and see what comes up). A mobile phone vid was apparently watched by thousands of people on Youtube.

So on 26 Feb 09, The Sun coughed up £30,000 in damages. Which is good news, but hardly undoes the harm caused by the story in the first place. His lawyer said:

It transpires that an individual who noticed Mr Raulynaitis at prayer chose to film this act on a mobile phone and sent the video to the Sun, which then reproduced stills from it alongside the article, as well as the footage itself on the Sun's website.

Sadly, this is an all too common way of running a tabloid these days. Get some juicy pics and to hell with the accuracy. Surely a little bit of, you know, journalism, might have nipped this story in the bud before it got near the paper. But it fits the anti-Islam agenda that these papers want to propigate and sadly, a £30,000 pay-out isn't going to make them stop.

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