AP Jerusalem bureau stands by false report of “forced conversions” in Gaza

The Associated Press Jerusalem bureau is standing by a baseless report that Christians in Gaza have been forced to convert to Islam, even after the agency’s own reporter acknowledged the claims weren’t true, as The Electronic Intifada reported.

Dan Perry, the AP Jerusalem bureau chief, wrote to me in an email this morning:

The story does not contain errors, grave or otherwise, and there will be no correction. We are attempting a follow up story on this complex issue.

AP reporter acknowledges claim is false

A week ago, in a story headlined “Gaza Christians protest ‘forcible conversions,’” AP’s Diaa Hadid reported on a protest by several people in Gaza who alleged that two Christian family members had been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam.

Hadid did not bother to independently verify these sensational claims and rumors before reporting them.

It was subsequently confirmed by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights that no forced conversions took place and that the two individuals had converted voluntarily and sought protection from authorities fearing reprisals from their community.

Hadid herself acknowledged this on her blog where she wrote, “there’s little doubt that they willingly converted,” and on Twitter:

Yet the false claims of “forced conversions” continue to be used by various groups to paint a false and alarming picture of the situation of Christians in Gaza, the latest being the extreme Islamophobic Gatestone Institute, an entity funded by Nina Rosenwald, “The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate.”

It seems the AP is only too happy to assist in their efforts.