Faisal Bodi, freelance journalist and former News Editor of Q-News, has been targeted by the BBCfollowing a news report on the Radio 4 programme,The World Tonight. The report focused on the precarious electoral position of pro-Israeli MPs under escalating pressure from Muslims outraged at their support of the Israeli apartheid regime. Incidentally, the BBC\’s decision appears to have been influenced by complaints from the very MPs whose l olitical situation was reporte by Mr Bodi, and who were concerned about the potentially adverse impact of such a reports on their prospects for the coming General Election. According to the Jewish Chronicle, \”the BBC has come under fire from Mr Gapes and LFI [Labour Friends of Israel] officials over a Radio 4 report on the situation facing pro-Israel MPs by prominent Muslim journalist Faisal Bodi.
In a letter to BBC Director-General, Greg Dyke, Mr Gapes attacked the broadcast\”, which concerned the growing pressure from Muslims in three London constituencies to \”unseat Labour MPs viewed as sympathetic to Israel.\” A standard letter sent out by David Stevenson, Deputy Editor of The World Tonight, in response to the complaints concluded that his alleged political affiliation as \”an avowed supporter of Islamic causes should have been made clear\” in the introduction to his report, and that these editorial views have been made \”absolutely clear to the production
team\” . This decision to include in the introduction of a Muslim journalist\’s report an indication of his alleged political affiliations, is a clear example of Islamophobic double standards, and indeed, discrimination against a Muslim journalist on the basis of his religion.
Although the BBChas ostensibly expressed a commitment to recruit a larger number of Muslims in the interests of fairly representing the Muslim community in Britain, the integrity of this commitment is brought into ques-tion when the BBCsimultaneously imposes unreasonable and selective conditions on those few practicing Muslims who contribute to
Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), Massoud Shadjareh, commented on the discriminatory nature of the policy: \”Why is it that the political affiliations of other reporters and journalists are
not similarly revealed? The sheer inconsistency in the fact that a Muslim journalist has been singled out, while non-Muslim reporters\’ political affiliations will remain unannounced, clarifies that this a grave case of anti- Muslim discrimination\” . This conclusion is supported
by the fact that the BBC\’s decision was issued despite there being no bias in Mr Bodi\’s report. Mr Stevenson admitted in his response to complaints that\” having listened to the feature again weare satisfied that in and of itself it is factual, fair and balanced.\” The BBC\’s decision to introduce Mr Bodi as a \”supporter of Islamiccauses\” therefore has nothing to do with his actual report, but rather seems to be related to the person pf Mr Bodi himself as apracticir. Muslim. \”The new policy appears to be designed solely to blackmark Muslim journalists
by suggesting that they are inherently biased in their assessment of
current affairs. This is a clear case of Islamophobia,\” said Massoud
It is further alarming that this instance of double standards was
initiated as a result of pressure from a political source, despite the
fact that the BBCis supposed to be independent from such political
pressure. The Muslim community rightly expects to be represented and viewed according to the same standards as other communities in Britain. Muslims deserve to receive the same service as any other license-fee payer. The BBC should, and professes to be, equally accountable and answerable to all sectors of the community. The case of Mr Bodi proves
clearly that the BBC is, indeed, susceptible to political pressure
from pro-Israeli MPs afraid of bad publicity at a crucial time in their
electoral campaign, so much so that they possess a veritable veto
over BBC reports and the way they are produced and conducted.
It seems that the BBC feels it is more accountable to coercion
from a few MPs who wish to protect their public image, rather than to those members of the general public who pay their license fees.
If a journalist\’s political affiliations are to be mentioned, then this should be done consistently and with ~gard to all journalistsnot merely Muslims whose \”factual fair and balanced\” reports tarnish the treasured images of pro-Zionist politicians.
Nafeez Ahmed is a Researcher at the Islamic Human Rights Commission.