After reader complaints, the Guardian hit delete on a photograph of Khalid Masood, the Westminster attacker who killed five people in 2017, the Guardian’s readers’ editor Paul Chadwick reported.
Masood was killed by a bodyguard after he drove his car into pedestrians on the Westminster bridge, and then stabbed others.
The photo of Masood at Mecca showed “a smiling Masood dressed in the traditional white, and behind him the Ka’bah, the great cube, around which pilgrims walk seven times,” Chadwick explained. It accompanied an Oct. 4 news story about an inquest — or investigation — into Masood’s death, which ultimately found he was “lawfully” killed by an armed bodyguard.
The photo was “legitimately obtained,” Chadwick wrote, but readers were concerned that it linked him and his crimes to Islam. “Conscious that the Muslim community can suffer discrimination when terrorist acts are committed in the name of a political ideology that feigns religiosity, as a gesture of goodwill the editors replaced the photo for another image, a police mugshot,” Chadwick wrote. “Muslims who had raised the issue were appreciative.”
The article in question now shows the mugshot picture and carries a note reading, “On 9 October 2018 the image of Khalid Masood accompanying this article was replaced with the police photograph of him.”
iMediaEthics has contacted Chadwick to ask how many readers complained, the reason the Guardian decided to remove the photo, and if it was removed from any other uses in the Guardian.
Despite the Guardian’s decision, iMediaEthics found the image of Masood on various UK news sites. Using a Google image search of the photo, iMediaEthics saw that Sky News and the BBC, among others, used the photo at some point. iMediaEthics contacted these outlets to ask if they received similar complaints and to confirm they are still using the photograph.