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Dilpazier Aslam

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Dilpazier Aslam (born 1978) is a former trainee journalist with The Guardian. He came to public attention in July 2005 when he lost his position with the newspaper after being named as a member of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The Guardian was alerted to Aslam's membership of the group by bloggers who read Aslam's article in the newspaper about the July 7 London bombings. Entitled "We Rock the Boat," the article discussed the attitudes of young British Muslims, but without mentioning the writer's membership of an Islamist group. [1] The newspaper subsequently found an article on Hizb ut-Tahrir's website, Khalifah.com, that appeared to be an "incitement of violence against Jews," according to the newspaper. Before joining The Guardian, Aslam had written three articles for Khilafah.com, and was once called its Middle Eastern correspondent. [2] Aslam told Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian's editor, that he personally rejected anti-Semitism but was not willing to leave Hizb ut-Tahrir and did not consider its website to be anti-Semitic. Rusbridger and other executives decided that membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir was not compatible with membership of the newspaper's trainee scheme. [3]

Early career

Aslam studied journalism at Sheffield University with the help of a bursary from the Sheffield Star. Previously he had been a journalistic trainee at the Matlock Mercury in 2004, and won the National Union of Journalists George Viner award for promising black journalists in 2003.

Controversy

Aslam wrote or co-wrote a number of articles after the London bombings. In a final, more personal one on July 13, 2005, entitled "We Rock the Boat", he suggested there was a gulf between younger British Muslims and both mainstream British society and the older generation of Muslims. His generation, he claimed, was not prepared to suffer in silence, but were "sassy" and prepared to "rock the boat". From recent personal experience in Leeds and Sheffield, he reflected on what he saw as the failure of community leaders to express the anger and politicization of British Muslims of his age. [4]

Scott Burgess, a conservative American blogger living in London, searched for Aslam's name on the Internet and discovered that he was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir and had written articles for its website, Khilafah.com. A blogging campaign soon began, supported by notable left- and right-wing blogs, and taken up by some of the mainstream press, to get Aslam sacked. At first, The Guardian appeared to stand by its employee, but he was finally given his notice for refusing to end his membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir. The Guardian said it had been unaware of his membership of the party, a claim questioned by Aslam's newsroom colleagues, who reported that Aslam had made no secret of it during his time at the paper. It was also said he submitted his work for Hizb ut-Tahrir's website as part of his application.

On announcing that Aslam had been dismissed, The Guardian published a story without a byline about how the blog campaign had unfolded. The Guardian wrote that Scott Burgess had made a failed application for the Guardian traineeship that had gone to Aslam. Burgess countered that he had only facetiously posted the application on his weblog in order to entertain his readers.

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