This is the headline to a report in the Daily Mail. The report begins: “A Muslim who stabbed a pregnant Romanian prostitute to death after warning her not to work near a mosque was jailed for at least 29 years today.”
As you might expect from the Mail, the claim that Farooq Shah, the individual convicted of the murder, targeted sex worker Mariana Popa because she was working near a mosque is a straightforward lie.
The sole basis for this claim is that during the trial, in an attempt to identify a motive for the murder, the prosecuting barrister asked Shah: “What was that conversation with Miss Popa about? Did you ask her to go with you? Did you offer her money? Did she say no because you had a bike and didn’t even have a car? Or were you on this night patrolling the area for prostitutes? Did you want to challenge Miss Popa and ask her to get out of that area, to get away from the mosques?”
But the Mail‘s own report states: “In his account to the jury, Shah said having women sell their bodies near his mosque or home ‘means nothing'”. According to the Ilford Recorder, the investigating officer Detective Inspector Darren Richards said that Shah “has never given any reason” for the murder, adding: “He’s given no reason because there was no reason, other than he’d armed himself with a knife and was prepared to use it that night.”
DI Richards had previously stated: “This was a cold-blooded, senseless murder by a man who went out that night, armed with a knife, intent on using it to commit serious injury to someone. He had already threatened and robbed a vulnerable man with a knife earlier that night, and he was hanging around the Ilford Lane area, looking for another victim. He killed Mariana because she was there, because he thought he could get away with it.”
Shah’s religious beliefs, if indeed he has any, appear to have had no bearing whatsoever on the case.
Steve Rose has posted a demolition of this latest example from the Mail‘s endless stream of inflammatory anti-Muslim stories. He asks: “Will the Daily Mail now amend their sensationalistic copy?” The answer, so far, is no.
Meanwhile, the report has been picked up by the far right to whip up further hatred against the Muslim community.