Scotsman.com- BBC Cancels Kilroy-Silk Show after Attack on Arabs
09 January 2004
TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk's career was in turmoil tonight after the BBC pulled his chat show off the air following controversial comments he made about Arabs.
In a statement, the BBC said it strongly disassociates itself from comments Kilroy-Silk made in his newspaper column at the weekend, and has launched an investigation.
Under the headline We Owe Arabs Nothing, he branded Arabs as suicide bombers, limb amputators, women repressors.
The Commission for Racial Equality has referred the matter to the police.
The BBC statement read: The BBC strongly disassociates itself from the views expressed in an article by Robert Kilroy-Silk in The Sunday Express of 4 January 2004.
We stress that these comments do not reflect the views of the BBC.
The BBC is taking the Kilroy programme off air immediately while we investigate this matter fully.
The daily show was due to go out as usual on Monday but will be replaced by an extended half-hour of BBC Breakfast.
Trevor Phillips, head of the CRE, said he expected the MP-turned-presenter to be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred.
Mr Phillips said on Sky News: Well this is now a matter for the police. What will happen is the police will investigate it, look at the Public Order Act and assess whether this could be interpreted as an incitement of racial hatred. There are clear legal tests for that.
If it is then it will go the Crown Prosecution Service who will then discuss whether theres a case to be made and if there is a case to be made, Mr Kilroy-Silk will be prosecuted.
I have to say, if its deemed not to be a breach of the laws on racial hatred, we will have to have a pretty good look at those laws.
This is not the first time Kilroy-Silk has been accused of expressing racist views in his newspaper column.
In 1992 he sparked fury with his comments about the Irish in the pages of the Daily Express.
He described EC Commissioner Ray MacSharry as a redundant second-rate politician from a country peopled by peasants, priests and pixies.
Irelands Ambassador to Britain Joseph Small condemned the gratuitously offensive and indeed racist remarks.
Kilroy-Silk was forced to make an apology, saying: I accept that my references to Mr MacSharry and to Ireland and the Irish people were both offensive and unjustified.
The then editor of the Daily Express, Sir Nicholas Lloyd, also apologised to Irish people.
He said: The Daily Express dissociates itself and I disassociate the Daily Express from his opinions, which I think go some way to slandering the entire Irish nation.
Kilroy himself is by background and family Irish. His mother is Irish, most of his family are Irish. He could travel on an Irish passport, and I donbt know quite what got into him.
So I am saying sorry and sorry in a big way to everybody in Ireland.
Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, welcomed the BBCs decision to suspend Kilroy-silk and said his comments were extremely harmful to race relations.
Comments such as this from someone of his standing legitimises extremists like the BNP and the National Front. It gives racism a new respectability, Mr Shadjareh said.
I am glad the BBC has taken some action but we will have to wait for the outcome.
Kilroy-Silk has been making insulting comments about Muslims and Islam for many years, Mr Shadjareh said.
The former MP has regularly used his column to rail against Muslim extremists, fanatics and militants.
Earlier this year he aired his views about suicide bombings in the Middle East.
He wrote: Muslims, we were told, felt angry about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem. The suicide bombers would only stop when the Middle East problem was resolved.
That is a lie. If it is really a question of Palestine, why do all the Muslim headbangers profess such a deep hatred of the West?
Why do they sneer at our belief in democracy and human rights?
Why do they shout that voting is a sin, try to deny women equal rights, vilify homosexuals and burn books?
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