Harry's Place continues its witch-hunt of Mehdi Hasan, senior editor (politics) at the New Statesman, in what is clearly a campaign aimed at getting him dismissed from his job. In the comments section fellow NS journalist James Macintyre has posted a defence of his colleague which we reproduce here:
Harry's Place – I have just seen this unspeakable smear campaign – "part 1" – against my colleague Mehdi Hasan at the New Statesman. You have just lowered yourself to the rankest form of fact-free, context-free, bent hatchet-job "blogging". I am one of many outsiders who is repulsed. You pose as a quasi-intellectual blog-site, and yet you operate with no rules of journalism. Let me, therefore, offer you some facts.
I have known Mehdi Hasan for seven years. In that time I have been honoured to know an actively moderate Muslim; easily the most moderate Muslim I have met and among the most religious people I know, and that catagory includes senior members of the Anglican communion to which I belong.
Mehdi Hasan does indeed have a double life: and it is the exact opposite to what your libelous bile presents. At the same time as being dismissed on neo-con sites like this as an "extremist" or fan of bin Laden, he in fact lectures his own community of London Shias of the need to integrate and be fully British. He does this on a weekly or monthly basis.
Only a few months ago Tony McNulty MP – not known for his pro-extremist stances – praised Mehdi Hasan at a public meeting in the House of Commons. He said he was previously unaware that this kind of speaking – in which Muslims were told by a Muslim to inegrate and be British – took place within the community.
This clip which you have seedily honed in on merely shows him sticking up for religion in the way that your heroes Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins denounce it and passionately defend atheism. As a Christian believer myself, I agree with Mehdi Hasan in his comments you seek to sensationalize – tell me then Harry's Place, does that make me one of your targets, or are your dangerous smears purely based on race?
You have disgraced yourself, and it would be amusing were it not a calculated attempt to damage a man's reputation. I have never known a more open-minded person who speaks publicly on religion. Many a time have I heard Mehdi Hasan angrily denounce anti-semitism, racism, prejudice of any kind.
If you seriously intend to run this series, by a doubtless fake "Channel 4 insider" – what have you got to hide, C4 Insider? Surely this is a great story if you are on safe ground? – then you had better be prepared for the consequences. Legalities aside, you threaten to shame your web site once and for all.
I feel like I am posting on the BNP site, and it is on that level that you will place yourselves with this pathetic smear, based purely on the fact that Mehdi got the better of your contributors last week. If you are going to go after him, go after me too – as I agree with almost everything he says about the world's religions.
Mehdi Hasan is a friend, a colleague, and someone who deserves the utmost praise for his amazing role as an educator and moderator of those in his own faith.
It's time for you to decide: are you going to be a serious blogsite, or are you going to place yourselves in the same catagory as bnp.org.uk?
Think about it.