Islamic Human Rights Commission
9th May 2001
MEDIA ALERT: BBC Radio 4 ‘World Tonight’ caves in to pro-Israel MP’s pressure against journalist
Mike Gapes MP for Ilford South has complained about a piece on Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight.’ The piece by Faisal Bodi, mentioned the campaign by local Muslims to unseat the MP because of his membership of Labour Friends of Israel. Mike Gapes complaint to the BBC Director General, has resulted in the programme’s editors issuing apologies that state that they feel Faisal Bodi should have been introduced at the beginning of the piece as a “supporter of Islamic causes.”
No other journalists are required to be introduced in this way. This is an example of discrimination against a journalist because of his religion. Please write to the Director General of the BBC, Greg Dyke asking the BBC to withdraw this policy. The address and a model letter follow on below.
PO Box 598
Telephone (+44) 20 902 0888
Fax (+44) 20 8902 0889
MODEL LETTER FOR CAMPAIGNERS
BBC Broadcasting House
Dear Mr. Dyke,
I am shocked and dismayed at the BBC’s decision to highlight the political affiliation of Muslim journalists who report for BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight, in the introduction to their reports.
After receiving complaints about the report on Tuesday 17 April The World Tonight, stated that Faisal Bodi’s alleged political affiliation as a “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 was despite the programme’s opinion that the report “in and of itself it is factual, fair and balanced.” The BBC’s decision to introduce Mr Bodi as a supporter of Islamic causes is therefore related only to Mr Bodi’s religion, rather than his actual report.
This decision is a clear example of Islamophobic double standards and discrimination against a Muslim journalist on the basis of his faith and political views.
Why has the BBC decided that it was necessary “to have made a more comprehensive introduction to the piece, noting his [Mr. Bodi’s] known support for Islamic causes…” when such a measure has not been taken with respect to other journalists who report for the BBC. Why is it that the political affiliations of other reporters and journalists are not similarly announced?
Also, I am worried that this decision appears to have been motivated by political pressure, something the BBC is supposed to be independent of. The Jewish Chronicle (04/05/01) further reported that “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…” Mr Bodi’s report concerned the growing pressure from Muslims in three London constituencies to “unseat Labour MPs viewed as sympathetic to Israel.”
I am disgusted that the BBC can cave in to this kind of political pressure and in doing so choose to discriminate so blatantly against members of the Muslim community. Is the BBC answerable to the license-fee payers or to a handful of politicians?
I demand an immediate revocation of this outrageous policy and an assurance that you will treat Muslims by the same standards you apply to everybody else.