A British Muslim family who won substantial damages from Mail Online and an apology from Katie Hopkins has called for the public to forgive the columnist.
In an online statement, Zahid Mahmood said his family accepted the apology, which came after Hopkins penned two pieces containing defamatory claims about him, his brother Tariq and nine children, who were barred from travelling to the United States for a trip to Disneyland last year.
Zahid, of Walthamstow, said: “I have a humble request to all, please don’t judge all Muslims on the actions of a few.
“Our prophet taught us to forgive those who wrong us and to see the good in everyone, so I there for would like to say I Zahid Mahmood and my wife and family would like to accept Katie Hopkins apology and draw a line under this matter.
“I know a lot of people are making vile comments about her, but please refrain and forgive her for her actions. She may one day reflect and become a better human being. As far as we are concerned she has apologised and we have welcomed it.”
Hopkins, who has previously boasted that she will “never” apologise for her controversial views, tweeted the apology in the dead of night on Monday. According to the Guardian, the Mahmood family has received £150,000 from Mail Online.
But despite her apparent attempts to keep it low key, Hopkins’ tweet has been retweeted more than 11,000 times and liked over 3,000 times.
Many high profile tweeters remarked upon the time Hopkins issued the tweet as they shared the apology.
Zahid also spoke of the support he had received from the local community in tackling Islamophobia.
He added: “Our faith teaches us to forgive and to stand up for injustice and it is that same faith that we find is always being dragged through the mud by people who do not understand the TRUE meaning of Islam.
“My faith is important to me, it defines me as a person and is constantly making me strive to be a better human.
“YES I am a Muslim but NO I’m not a terrorist. My children are kids just like yours… my family just like yours.”
Tariq Mahmood told the BBC Asian Network: “We are happy, we are over the moon and it’s come at the right time - right at the festive season.
“It’s just been hard... it’s been really tough.”
The full statement from Mail Online:
An article published in Katie Hopkins’ column on 23 December 2015 (’Just because Britain’s border security is a Mickey Mouse operation you can’t blame America for not letting this lot travel to Disneyland – I wouldn’t either’) suggested that Mohammed Tariq Mahmood and his brother, Mohammed Zahid Mahmood, are extremists with links to Al Qaeda; that their purported reason for visiting the USA – namely to visit Disneyland – was a lie; and that US Homeland Security were right to prevent them from boarding their flight. We are happy to make clear that Tariq Mahmood and Zahid Mahmood are not extremists, nor do they have links to Al Qaeda. They were travelling to the USA with their families to see one of their brothers for a holiday in California and they had indeed planned to visit Disneyland as part of their trip.
In addition a further article in Katie’s column on 29 December (’A brave Muslim tried to warn us their week about the extremists taking over his community. What a tragedy it is that our PC politicians would rather not know’) suggested that Hamza Mahmood (Mohammed Tariq Mahmood’s son) was responsible for a Facebook page which allegedly contained extremist material. Our article included a photo of the family home. Hamza Mahmood has pointed out that he is not responsible for the Facebook page, which was linked to him as a result of an error involving his email address. We are happy to make clear that there is no suggestion that either Hamza nor Taeeba or Hafsa Mahmood (Hamza’s mother and sister) have any links to extremism.
We and Katie Hopkins apologise to the Mahmood family for the distress and embarrassment caused and have agreed to pay them substantial damages and their legal costs.