The BBC and Islamophobia: Reporters, Perpetrators or Apologists?


Islamic Human Rights Commission

18th August 2001

The BBC and Islamophobia

Reporters, Perpetrators or Apologists?

IHRC is concerned tonight’s BBC UK Islam contribution ‘Islamophobia’ will not truly highlight the level and extent of the problem as faced by British Muslims. IHRC notes the long overdue UK Islam Season by the BBC as the beginnings of an attempt to redress the imbalance within the corporation’s programming regarding Islam and Muslims, particularly in the UK. However this does not obviate the organisations’ concerns that the extent and nature of Islamophobia in this country will not truly be reflected.

IHRC, which is a contributor to the programme, is particularly worried that some of the ‘hidden filming’ exercises have been left out of the programme. This filming included comments by an educationalist that Muslim girls wishing to don a headscarf were not normal and should not be allowed to attend his establishment. According to the programme’s producer the fact that these comments were not illegal meant that there was no reason for inclusion in the programme.

However this is precisely the point. Islamophobia, although endemic in British society, is not – unlike anti-Semitism – illegal. It is anenduring injustice that needs legislative action to prevent the problem from escalating. Many qualitative and quantitative studies have been done – including IHRC’s own surveys and case studies. These reports show clearly that the scale of the problem of Islamophobia is vast and ever increasing. IHRC’s survey over two consecutive years saw 35% and 45% of respondents stating they had experienced anti-Muslim hostility and discrimination, with the number rising to over 50% for respondents under 35.

IHRC is accredited to and will be attending the UN Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa at the end of this month. It will be holding a number of seminars and will be highlighting the issue of Islamophobia at the national level as part of its programme of events and meetings.

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