Guardian journalists regrets sacking of radical Muslim

LONDON – Guardian journalists have expressed regret over the sacking of Muslim journalist Dilpazier Aslam, who was revealed by bloggers to be a member of the anti-Semitic Islamic group Hizb'ut Tahrir.

His sacking was discussed at a National Union of Journalists meeting, at which Aslam was present. According to political blog Harry's Place, part of Aslam's defence was his surprise at the outrage caused by his 7/7 article in The Guardian, in which he called the suicide bombers who killed 52 people "sassy".

Aslam said that he had worked closely on the piece with Guardian comment editor Seumas Milne, who he said had suggested certain phrases that appeared in the controversial article.

At the NUJ meeting, Aslam was asked several pointed questions about the anti-Semitism of Hizb'ut Tahrir. Aslam is reported not to have given satisfactory answers to these questions.

The chapel, chaired by Matt Seaton, discussed three separate motions.

The first motion authorised chapel officers to continue to represent Dilpazier Aslam, if required by him, at an appeal against his dismissal should he choose to pursue one. This did not represent the chapel backing Aslam, but simply acknowledged his right to representation.

The second motion, which was overwhelmingly passed, noted that the chapel found Aslam's explanation of the 2002 Hizb'ut Tahrir Jenin leaflet, which falsely accused Ariel Sharon of a massacre in the Jenin refugee camp, and called on him to repudiate that publication.

The third motion only went as far to "regret the precipitate action" taken by Guardian Newspapers. Aslam was sacked after a meeting with chief executive Carolyn McCall.

"This can in no way be interpreted as "backing him"; it simply
acknowledges his right to representation under The Guardian's disciplinary procedure and authorises a chapel officer to participate as his representative," Seaton said.

Harry's blog further reported that Aslam was appointed by executive editor Albert Scardino, husband of Pearson chief executive Majorie Scardino, under a scheme to bring under-represented ethnic groups to the paper.

It is understood that Scardino suggested to Milne that Aslam write the "sassy" comment piece.

Before being sacked by The Guardian, Aslam was offered the chance to leave Hizb'ut Tahrir, but refused.

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