A TOP police chief demanded yesterday that The Times newspaper immediately apologise for its “offensive” linking of the murder of a Muslim man to child sex grooming.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) chief constable Ian Hopkins sent an open letter to the newspaper on Saturday saying he is “appalled” over its headline “imam beaten to death in sex grooming town.”
The paper printed the line above a story of the death of Jalal Uddin, 56, who was found covered in blood after suffering injuries to his head last Thursday.
Mr Uddin is believed to have taken a shortcut home from a friend’s house in Rochdale at about 9pm on Wednesday.
A 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and released without charge.
Rochdale was the subject of a media storm in 2012 after the Times uncovered widespread child abuse in the town by primarily British-Pakistani men.
Mr Hopkins wrote: “The headline has no relevance to the horrific murder of a former imam in Rochdale … I have received much feedback about the outrage that the article has caused.
“Your headline and its irrelevance to this case has the potential to cause community tension. It is also offensive to the thousands of peaceful law abiding Muslims and non-Muslims living in Rochdale, who are shocked by this murder.”
GMP has “not ruled out” that the attack was racially motivated, he continued.
Critics have urged people to report the newspaper to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso). The Times later changed “sex grooming town” to “Rochdale” in its online version.
Muslim Council of Britain secretary-general Dr Shuja Shafi said: “We would urge the community to be vigilant and offer support whilst travelling.”