Islamic Human Rights Commission
3 August 2006
Updated alert: Complain to BBC regarding Panorama Documentary ‘Faith, Hate & Charity’ aired 30 July 2006
2. Key Talking points
3. How to Complain
The BBC aired another documentary about British Muslims last Sunday, 30 July 2006, by the broadcast journalist John Ware, responsible for last year\’s one-sided Panorama programme on British Muslim leadership.
This time Ware focused on the community’s alleged support of Palestinian groups and aims to expose activists’ links with political movements such as Hamas which Ware considers to be a terrorist organisation. For more details we refer to the journalist Faisal Bodi’s article on the forthcoming documentary on The Guardian website:
Ware’s last programme ‘A Question of Leadership’ was supposed to examine the role of the Muslim Council of Britain. Instead, it degenerated into an ‘McCarthyite’ attack on Muslims and their beliefs, overflowing with Islamophobic stereo-types and glaring inaccuracies. John Ware’s pro-Israel bias was also evident in the documentary. He reserved all his criticisms and condemnations for the Palestinians without a word of criticism for the Israelis.
The programme resulted in the BBC receiving over 600 complaints in the first week alone and provoked wide spread condemnation by Muslim groups and non Muslims alike. The documentary and its Islamophobic nature was also highlighted by the IHRC via our alert:
2. Key talking points
(i) The programme was not only biased but contradicted itself and its stated purpose. Whilst suggesting links between British charities and organisation e.g. Interpal and Hamas, Ware could only suggest similarities in ways that Interpal operated and an FBI monitored meeting of pro-Palestinian activists who discussed, in the FBI’s own broadcast admission, detail about fundraising for charities dealing with welfare in Palestine. Whilst John Ware may find supplying food and educational aid to Palestinians sinister, it is clear that this is in most people’s opinion an uncontroversial charitable aim.
(ii) Ware uses primarily Israeli sources – usually military – to back his claims regarding Hamas and their operations. This is hardly a source to be relied upon to be impartial or indeed have accurate knowledge about British organisations, yet Ware posits them as experts and does not make clear that both his and their comments are purely speculative. Ware’s pro-Israeli bias is evident in the programme’s reconstruction of an interrogation of a Palestinian prisoner who is shown being handed cups of tea by his interrogator. Given Israel’s abysmal human rights record which includes the incarceration of thousands of Palestinians without charge and the legalisation of torture by the Israeli courts, this scene implies that information given under interrogation was given freely and is reliable. The reality of Israeli interrogation techniques suggests otherwise.
(iii) Ware’s questioning and thesis behind the programme is obsessed with the idea of religion and particularly Islam. His attempts to discredit those linked to charities funded by UK groups as Hamas supporters focuses time and again on Ware’s contention that suicide bombing is a marker of religious fanaticism that opposes peace in the region. He posits as an opposite to this the Oslo accords and the secular Palestinian movement led in the past by Yasser Arafat. He fails to mention that of the pictures of suicide numbers that he so abhors, are many from secular movements including those like the Al-Aqsa martyr’s Brigade that had links with Arafat and the PLO.
This shows an Islamophobic bias and also undermines Ware’s claims to be focusing on a genuine area of concern. If association with, knowledge of or even appreciation of suicide bombers amongst recipients of aid is a reason to castigate charities, then Ware and indeed the Charity Commission he criticises for failing to take action, need to investigate all charities in the UK, who have given money to organisations in Palestine that are run by, have members who are sympathetic to or know people who are sympathetic to members of the PLO and other secular organisations that have conducted suicide bombings or have links with organisations that may have supported the same.
(iv) There are a host of other inaccuracies and contradictions, most too laughable to merit a response. The key issue is however that the BBC have allowed the personal bias and agenda of a reporter to translate into a television programme. John Ware is entitled to his opinions however bizarre, but they should be understood as just that, opinions – and not presented as fact in a documentary.
2. How to Complain
You can complain via email, post or by telephone:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-perl/complaints/ and fill online quick complaints form
Copy your complaint to the Panorama team by email on: email@example.com
Or post it to them at:
BBC Panorama Room 1118, 201 Wood Lane London W12 7TS 4. Go to this panorama link and fill in complaint via email:
Please CC correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can track the number of letters sent.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
T (44) 20 8904 4222
F (44) 20 8904 5183