Trevor Kavanagh’s latest column for The Sun has drawn scorn for its “astounding” failure to apologise for using the term “The Muslim Problem” in a widely-criticised piece published on Sunday.
The opinion piece, which hits back at accusations he is Islamophobic, attacks the “fake fury”and “hysteria” which erupted after his article about immigration following the Newcastle sex abuse scandal.
He wrote on Wednesday night: “I was instantly denounced for fomenting a Nazi-style ‘Final Solution’ comparable only with the Jewish Holocaust.
“It was a ludicrous, offensive and perverse distortion of the truth.”
He added: “Nor can The Sun be accused of Islamophobia. Thousands of our hardworking newsagents are Muslim and have our respect.”
His defence on Wednesday has been lambasted by many, including Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain.
Versi told HuffPost UK: “Accusations of Islamophobia should be based on fact, not based on ‘I have a friend, who’.
“There have been many articles within The Sun which have been roundly described as targeting Muslims.
“This is not a subjective opinion by me alone but one that is held by many and the fact that newsagents sell the paper happen to be Muslim does not excuse, in any sense, the words that are used by The Sun and some of the columnists.”
This claim has also been mocked on social media.
Kavanagh was accused of using “Nazi-like language” in Sunday’s article and a group of 107 cross-party politicians signed an open letter demanding action from The Sun over the column.
The original article referred to “The Muslim Problem”, but this has since been changed to “the Muslim problem”.
The piece was also opposed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Ipso has so far received 260 complaints.
Criticism was also levelled at the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) for still allowing Kavanagh to sit on the board of the press regulator, despite his articles being the subject of hundreds of complaints.
Versi told HuffPost UK: “He is a senior writer and he has been around for a long, long time.
“If he is unable to understand why someone will infer that from his column, he shouldn’t be writing a column in the first place.
“And he definitely shouldn’t be seen as an expert who Ipso turns to for advice on their board.
“It is clear that there was a connotation associated with it (the Final Solution).
“And worse than that, in his column he seems to suggest there was never a ‘Jewish Problem’ so that’s why ‘The Jewish Problem’ never entered his mind, yet for some reason there is a ‘Muslim Problem’ for him and that’s why it’s entered his mind in this case.
“It is really quite astounding how someone can get away with almost doubling down on his argument, albeit in a slightly different way and using less sensationalist terminology, but doubling down on the argument that, were it to be made by any other minority community in this country, it would be widely castigated.”
Kavanagh’s latest article reads: “At the outset I want to state the vast majority of Muslims in Britain are decent, generous, hospitable and law-abiding men and women who add to the fabric of this nation.
“They have nothing whatsoever to do with the customs and primitive practices referred to in my article. Indeed they are as appalled as the rest of us by extremism.
“But it is impossible to write about Muslims without catching the eagle eye of MCB assistant general secretary Miqdaad Versi.
“I have been on the receiving end of his vigilance – he has had two Ipso adjudications against The Sun and recognises that as a Sun journalist and as a board member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation, where he is a regular complainant, I represent a particularly juicy target.”
Versi confirmed that he does disagree with Kavanagh sitting on the board of Ipso.
“The reality is that we currently have Mr Kavanagh, someone who has been criticised by all parts of the political spectrum.. from all different communities coming together, yet this individual is on the board of the regulator that is meant to oversee the press.
“There is a serious issue of why Ipso would want an individual like that who is bringing Ipso into dispute, not just this time but a number of times previously.”
Earlier this year, Kavanagh faced calls to resign from the board of Ipso after he was found to have made false claims about the number of asylum seekers lying about their age.
“Why would they want someone like that on their board?”, Versi said as he called on Ipso to reconsider Kavanagh’s position.
Ipso declined to comment when contacted by HuffPost UK.
The Sun has been contacted for comment.