UK Media Watch prompts Telegraph correction to false claim over ‘Arabic-speaking saints’

Yesterday, we posted about a correction prompted by our office to a false Guardian claim that two recently canonised Ottoman-era ‘Palestinians’ were the “first Arabic-speaking saints” in the Catholic Church. (We demonstrated that there have been other Arabic-speaking Lebanese saints.)

Similarly, we complained to The Telegraph about an article they published, written by Robert Tait, with the same false claim. Indeed, the “Arabic-speaking saint” narrative was highlighted both in the text and in the headline.

Here’s a snapshot of the original.


A couple of days after contacting Telegraph editors, they removed the misleading claim from the body of the article and the headline.

Here’s the new headline.

We commend Telegraph editors on the revision, and will update you when we receive responses from other UK news sites (Daily Mail and Times of London) which we contacted over the same error. 

Finally, it’s quite telling that The Telegraph’s Robert Tait blocked this writer on Twitter after a polite request – prior to Telegraph editors correcting his report – that he should consider contacting editors to get the false claim revised.  


As we have demonstrated previously, many professional journalists working in the Middle East are extremely sensitive to even the most mild criticism of their work. 

3 replies »

  1. So they were not the first Arab-speaking Catholic Saints.

    The next step for the media is to correct the idea that they were “Palestinian saints” – at best, they were “Southern Syrian”, or “Ottomanic” citizens.

    This summary of Mariam Baouardy’s nationality is surprisingly truthful about her lack of Palestinian antecedents:

    She was born on 5 January 1846 (the eve of Epiphany) in the village of I’billin, the region of Southern Syria in the Ottoman Empire, now in Israel, to Giries (George) Baouardy and his wife, Mariam Chahine, both of Damascene ancestry.