CNN reporter is caught up in 'fake news' row after being accused of 'setting up' a Muslim counter-terror protest
- Demonstrators against extremism visited police cordon near London Bridge
- Video was taken of the group being positioned behind TV crews yesterday
- CNN was accused on Twitter of using the demonstrators to 'create a narrative'
- But both the news network and demonstrators insist nobody was manipulated
Published: 11:01 EDT, 5 June 2017 | Updated: 13:29 EDT, 5 June 2017
CNN has denied online claims that it 'set up' a counter-extremism demonstration behind one of its reporters.
A group from the London Fatwa Council came to the police cordon near the London Bridge terror attacks with banners proclaiming 'ISIS will lose' yesterday afternoon.
But a video which emerged of the group apparently being positioned by TV reporters led to claims online that the channel was 'creating a narrative'.
The video shows the group being ushered past the media and positioned so that cameras can see them.
A film shot by a bystander shows a group of protesters being brought past TV crews in London
CNN has denied claims it positioned anti-extremism demonstrators behind its cameras to 'create a narrative', insisting the group arrived to be seen by TV cameras
The footage of Ms Anderson's report filmed of the protest was later posted online
Reporter Becky Anderson mentioned the protesters' signs in her news report on the terror attack.
She said: 'Behind me you can see a sign here, hashtag 'turn to love'', hashtag 'for London', hashtag 'ISIS will lose', and flowers left in remembrance of those who left their lives.'
She called the demonstrators a 'poignant scene' and urged the camera to pause on them to viewers 'how people feel here on the streets of London'.
The man who filmed the footage, a Twitter user called @markantro, tweeted: 'CNN creating the narrative #FakeNews'
His video was shared more than 14,000 times on the social network and liked more than 16,000 times.
The man who filmed the footage, who describes himself as an 'AnarchoCapitalist', claimed white police officers left the protest scene around the time news crews were filming, leaving minority officers visible - another example, he claimed, of the footage being staged.
Former US diplomat Richard Grenell also retweeted the video, with the caption: 'This is very disturbing.'
Both CNN and the demonstrators vehemently deny that anything was staged.
Twitter users said the protesters had been brought into shot to manipulate the story
But CNN's Brian Stelter hit back, insisting they had only filmed what was already happening
The protesters insist they went to the site on their own initiative and were not manipulated
Chairman of the London Fatwa Council, Mohammad Raza, said the protesters went to police cordon themselves to show that they opposed religious extremism
The group went to the scene to lay flowers and show signs saying '#turntolove' and #forlondon'
Mr Raza was pictured at a number of points around the cordon yesterday afternoon
They insisted the same scene was filmed by other broadcasters, including the BBC and ITV, who had positioned themselves at the police cordon.
A CNN spokesman said: 'This story is nonsense. The group of demonstrators that was at the police cordon was being allowed through by officers so they could show their signs to the gathered media.
Who are the group of protesters with signs?
According to its website, the London Fatwa Council is a charity set up to offer legal advice 'in accordance with Islamic law'.
The website states: 'It acts as a voice for women silenced by violent, abusive and forced marriages.
The group says it is trying to build dialogue between faiths in and around Barnet.
'The CNN crew along with other media present simply filmed them doing so.'
Mohammad Raza of the London Fatwa Council, who took part in the demonstration, told MailOnline suggestions the event was staged were 'completely false'.
He said: 'Nothing was set up. We all decided to go down there. We are members of a faith foundation which includes Jewish, Christian and Muslim members.
'We went down there on our own initiative to lay flowers at the scene.'
He insisted any actions by TV crews was their own concern and his group had not been told what to do.
The row over the news channel came as US President Donald Trump launched an online attack on Sadiq Khan.
The protesters also appeared at the side of the BBC's coverage of the terror attack aftermath
The BBC panned onto the group at the same police cordon as where CNN were filming
Trump hit out after the London Mayor told people there was 'no reason to be alarmed' about an increased police presence in the coming days.
The US president tweeted: 'At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!".'
This prompted Mr Khan's spokesman to state the mayor has 'more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed' tweet, before Mr Khan later suggested he does not regard Mr Trump's planned state visit as welcome.
Mr Trump continued to criticise Mr Khan, tweeting on Monday: 'Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his "no reason to be alarmed" statement. MSM (mainstream media) is working hard to sell it!'
Talking about his earlier comments, Mr Khan insisted made clear that he was advising people not to be concerned by the presence of additional armed police officers on the streets of the capital in the days to come, and not playing down anxieties about the attack itself.