Zoo stirs up trouble as it follows Star with 'Muslim' spread

LONDON - Emap's lads weekly Zoo magazine will this week publish a double-page spread making fun of Muslim law following the Daily Star, which was last week forced to drop a similar idea.

Last week, action by journalists, who threatened a walk out, halted a Daily Star-planned Islamic spoof called Daily Fatwa.

The Daily Star idea was overseen by new deputy editor Ben Knowles, who joined the paper from Zoo magazine, and was to have included a "Page 3 Burkha Babes Special", a reader competition to "burn a flag, win a Corsa", and a leader column headed "Allah is Great", entirely blank save for a "censored" stamp. "No news, no goss, no fun" was to be the page's strapline.

The NUJ chapel intervened late on Tuesday night once the news filtered through about the Daily Star's intentions, and issued this statement: "The chapel fears that this editorial content poses a very serious risk of violent and dangerous reprisals from religious fanatics who may take offence at these articles. This may place staff in great jeopardy."

Former colleagues of Knowles liked the idea so much they have imported it to the pages of this week's Zoo with a spoof headlined "Your all-new veil-friendly Zoo!"

As well as throwing itself into the veil debate, other headlines include "Public stonings!", "Beheadings!" and "Absolutely nobody having any fun whatsoever".

The spread also features a woman in a burqa, covered head to toe with only her eyes showing alongside the headline, "A girl! As you've never seen her before!"

It goes on to read: "Maybe shariah law isn't so controversial after all. Muslims who practise it to the letter are able to divorce their wives (up to four allowed) by text message. Wives are banned from being in a car with a man who is not a blood relative. And -- common sense a-go-go -- women aren't allowed to drive cars anyway!"

The issue is likely to cause a backlash among Muslims who had condemned the Daily Star's efforts.

Ahmed Versi, the editor of Muslim News, said of the Daily Star's plans: "This would have created a huge, huge backlash and outcry. I'm quite sure there would have been huge demonstrations outside the paper by the weekend and internationally."

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