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Does the BBC have a problem with Muslims?

Does the BBC have a problem with Muslims?

Yesterday’s The Big Questions on BBC TV was devoted to the issue “Does Britain have a problem with Muslims?” The very title illustrates how Islamophobic discourse has entered the mainstream. Can anyone imagine the BBC broadcasting a programme that addressed the question “Does Britain have a problem with Jews?” or “Does Britain have a problem with Blacks?”

Host Nicky Campbell set the tone with his opening remarks: “Osama bin Laden may be dead but his followers live on. On Friday the Pakistan Taliban killed 80 people in revenge for his death. Now Britain is a centre for the spread of Islamist ideology too, which not only poses a security risk but also inflames tensions between our communities. So our one big question this morning is: does Britain have a problem with Muslims?”

The panel was scarcely an improvement. The only representative Muslim figure was Salma Yaqoob. Alongside her we had right-wing journalist Ann Leslie, who took the opportunity to refer to veiled women as wearing “bin bags”, Quilliam’s Maajid Nawaz and Taj Hargey of MECO. If the BBC had set out to find two of the least representative and most widely despised individuals within the British Muslim community they couldn’t have come up with anyone much better than Nawaz and Hargey, with the possible exception of Anjem Choudary. Indeed, it came as a surprise that Choudary wasn’t on the programme. Sure enough, half way through Nicky Campbell announced that it had been decided not to invite Choudary … and read out an email statement from the idiot instead.

Thankfully, this was counterbalanced by some excellent contributions from the audience. True, we had to put up with a lot of nonsense from Davis Lewin of the neocon campaign group the Henry Jackson Society, including a slanderous attack on Salma Yaqoob. But there were good interventions from Saleem Chagtai, Myriam Francois Cerrah, Chris Allen and Yusuf Al-Khoei. Overall, the result was to present a much more positive view of British Muslims than you might have expected at the start of the programme.

Which didn’t please the anti-Muslim racists of the English Defence League one bit. A thread about the programme on their Facebook page attracted over 400 comments, the overwhelming majority of which were filled with the most vicious bigotry towards Muslims, including open threats of violence. Some examples can be consulted here. Screenshots of the whole “debate” can be found at Exposing the English Defence League, who point out: “The violent, racist, islamophobic, threatening rhetoric currently being published by the EDL on social networking is a must check out if you want to see them as they REALLY are.”

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6 Comments »

  1. Well, obviously there are forces in the muslim community that makes people in the west feel more uncomfortable with muslims than jews, så the question is not so unfair or irrelevant. Ever took the time to see what the problem with some muslims are? How about some self criticism? Ever wondered if there is more to things than the populistic “islamophobia”. Maybe the world is a bit more complicated?

    It takes two to tango.

  2. 30 years ago the BBC might have run a program about problems with the (Northern) Irish. Now why would they have run that program? Probably because of the IRA and their bombing campaigns at the time. The people were fearful of going to work and dying in the process, because of an IRA bombing. Fortunately the IRA adherents were a minority and eventually some of the major issues were settled and the violence subsided.

    So today the British people are in a similar situation where they wonder about their safety, with bombing and other violent plots being uncovered about potential attacks on the general population. The Irish aren’t bombing them, the Germans aren’t either, the Chinese – nope, who is? Oh, it’s all those people of the Commonwealth who we welcomed in and are now killing or plotting against us in the name of their religion (their words).

    So do the British have a problem with…..

  3. Did anyone actualy comment on the fact that the Pakistan Taliban DID kill 80 people in revenge for OBL’s death? Or is that question somehow irrelevant? The FACT is that the biggest terror attack in this country in the last 30 years was carried out by Muslims.

    I for one am concerned about that. The idea of someone who is Black or Jewish just walking up to me and killing me because i happen to NOT be Black or Jewish does not…. which is probably the reason why a program called ‘Does Britain have a problem with Jews’ didn’t get made.

    The main things that seemed to become clear to me from watching the program were that…

    1) Muslims seem to not have a single, coherant philosophy… which maybe explains why they seem to spend a lot of time actualy killing each other in various parts of the world..in the name of religion. IMHO The intervention of the West in Iraq was wrong…but the fact is that more Iraq civilians have been killed by Islamic extremists of various persuasions than have ever been killed by the US. All the West did was lift a lid that Saddam had kept on things for a few years.

    2) Only Muslims have the right to criticise Muslims.

    3) Muslims in the West condemn actions taken by Western governments that affect Muslim countries simply because they are Muslim countries. The first loyalty of a Muslim is to other Muslims.

    I assume the three Muslims on the panel were supposed to represent various, differing strands of Muslim culture in the UK. I found what they had in common, frankly, quite worrying.

  4. There is no doubt that the BBC and the majority of the British mainstream media are running a pro Zionist – anti Islam agenda.

    I am a Christian and believe in the message of peace and goodwill to all mankind and would 100% agree that there is definitely a pro war, anti Islam and anti Muslim campaign being run by the BBC.

    My opinion is based on watching BBC News and their “chat” shows, both on the TV and Radio (3CR – Three Counties Radio).

    As an example, on the Big Question chat show of 29 May 2011, the show host was making a mockery of the beliefs of a Koran scholar who described the interpretation of heaven.

    Some of the other anti Muslim rantings, one was from an Afro Black man claiming to be a Christian speaking in glowing terms about the “Judeo” Christian faith, excluding Islam from being connected to his faith and that Prophet Mohamed would not be in Heaven.

    I found these views disgusting as well as being highly inflammatory.

    No decent Christian would find these distorted and disturbed views as being valid.

    I am coming to a conclusion that there is no alternative other than to take proceedings against the BBC as their actions are a gross abuse of TV Licence Fee payers.

  5. Who are the BBC and the anti Muslim trolls posting here trying to kid?

    As a British person, an international lawyer, I work at one of the offices of an European International Bank (1200+ people in our building) and there are Muslims at my work place and in two years I have not heard of one single problem involving anyone because they were a Muslim person.

    It was the same when I worked for one of the world’s largest Re-Insurance companies in the city of London pre and post 7/7. There were no problems whatsoever relating to someone because they were Muslim.

    I happen to live in Hampstead and there have been no problems whatsoever with Muslim people in my area which has nearby, the Regents Park mosque.

    Now, my comment about the pro BBC anti Muslim posts.

    The fact is the BBC is falsely promoting or presenting that the British have a problem with Muslims.

    Another fact is that the BBC have started promoting the “Judeo” Christian faith. (Alan Yentob)

    I am a Christian and the fact is that Jesus and Christianity distanced itself from the “Judeos” for reasons which are very well known. Just read the Bible.

    And I would repeat our Christian message which is peace and goodwill towards all mankind.

  6. What an all round good blog post.

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