‘Rochdale 9’ Syria Case- Media Hounds Muslim Community for story

By Majed Iqbal- Since Thursday, when news broke out on nine individuals from Rochdale caught on the Turkish border, allegedly attempting to enter Syria, there has been a huge Media Presence in the town.

Whilst many would welcome this discourse, the climate of Islamophobia in Britain today, coupled with draconian laws that target the Muslim community as hostile, has not helped in the reporting.

Journalists trawled around and in some cases used intimidating lines, trying to provoke responses from young muslims regarding one of the individuals in the case, Waheed Ahmed. The family of this individual categorically refused to speak to any Media until their son was back in the country.

I was called up by many Media outlets including ITV news, Sky News, The Times, Manchester Evening News, The Daily Mail and The Sunday Express to comment on the case.

The Sunday Express, Manchester Evening news and the Daily mail pursued the line of enquiry that i had taught Waheed Ahmed at Rochdale Sixth form College. This is factually incorrect as i don’t work as a teacher! Their reference was to an ‘Enrichment day’ i was invited to where i participated in an afternoon of promoting equality and diversity with a session titled “Around the Muslim World in 1400 years”. Every half hour students could select which workshops they wanted to attend and sit in to listen to and partake in extracurricular activities.

Journalists were adamant that Waheed Ahmed sat in on one of those sessions back in July 2012, which consequently radicalised him three years later! Once again this is factually incorrect. The Sunday Express was arrogant enough to pursue this story without any confirmation and published the article on this link

Sources from the 6th Form College are clear, That the enrichment day was attended only by first year students whilst Waheed was second year student who had already left in June earlier. The Enrichment sessions were ran in July. So there was no contact as insinuated. Playing the ‘Guilty by Association’ card simply does not work.

Other far fetched analysis offered by journalists to me was that he attended a local mosque and changed. In fact three different mosques were named which simply highlighted that everything was heresy.

Further to this, many muslims acting as self styled leaders have gone onto make irresponsible comments in interviews when in this case there has been no charges issued to the Rochdale 9. These individuals have also acted as ‘Sources’ for the Media, spewing out half-baked narratives on this story. These far fetched comments have been music to the ears of many hungry journalists, looking to bag that sensationalist story for profitable ends and media ratings.

The next few days are crucial in the developments in this story and it will be interesting to see how the Media will cover it.



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