ISLAMIC HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
For Immediate Release
9th May 2001
BBC Launches Anti-Muslim Witch Hunt
World Tonight programme discriminates against Muslims
The BBC has decided to highlight the religious and political affiliation of Muslim journalists who report for its programmes. Muslim reporter Faisal Bodi has been targeted by Radio 4’s The World Tonight in what appears to be a disturbing policy of discrimination against Muslims who present news reports for the BBC.
A letter from The World Tonight about Mr Bodi’s report of 17 April states that Faisal Bodi’s alleged political affiliation as “an avowed supporter of Islamic causes” “should have been made clear” in the introduction to his report.
The BBC’s decision came in the wake of protests from pro-Israeli MPs. The Jewish Chronicle (04/05/01) reported that “the BBC has come under fire from Mr Gapes and LFI [Labour Friends of Israel] officials over a Radio 4 report on grass roots campaigns to oust pro-Israeli MPs by prominent Muslim journalist Faisal Bodi.
The BBC has admitted that that “having listened to the feature again we are satisfied that in and of itself it is factual, fair and balanced.” Therefore the BBC’s decision to introduce Mr Bodi as a supporter of Islamic causes seems to be related to Mr Bodi’s religious background rather than his reporting.
Massoud Shadjareh, Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), said:
“This is as naked an example of religious discrimination as I have come across. The new policy appears to be designed solely to blackball Muslim journalists by suggesting that they are inherently biased in their assessment of current affairs.”
He added: “Why is it that the political affiliations of other reporters and journalists are not similarly announced?”
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) calls on the BBC to immediately renounce this policy and to give the Muslim community an undertaking it will act in a consistent, non-biased and non-discriminatory way.
Either the BBC should refrain from introducing the political affiliations of any journalists who contribute to BBC productions, or if such affiliations are to be revealed then this should be done consistently and with regard to all journalists – not merely Muslims whose ‘factual, fair and balanced’ reports might show politicians in an unfavourable light.
For more information on the above, please contact the IHRC Press Office on (+44) 20 8902 0888, (+44) 958 522 196, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Telephone: (+44) 20 8904 4222