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    MCB plans another BBC complaint after Panorama rejects previous accusations

    by Sunny
    1st October, 2005 at 5:26 am    

    The war of words between the Muslim Council of Britain and the BBC has escalated again after the Panorama editor published a detailed response to accusations that their documentary on August 21st, A Question of Leadership, was “deeply unfair” and made to undermine the organisation.

    For a quick recap, the programme questioned the MCB’s links to extremist organisations in Pakistan and the UK and asked whether it was the best organisation to represent British Muslims.

    Its reporter John Ware found groups affiliated to the MCB that promoted anti-Semitic views, the belief that Islam was a superior ideology to secular British values and the view that Christians and Jews were conspiring to undermine Islam.

    The BBC published a detailed response yesterday by Mike Robinson, editor of Panorama. In conclusion:

    As I have set out, I have found there to be no truth in your claims that this programme was dishonestly presented, maliciously motivated or Islamophobic. These are extremely serious allegations to make in the face of so much evidence to the contrary; they are simply not true.

    The programme’s purpose was to reflect, inform and generate debate in the Muslim community and the wider population, about the nature and direction of the leadership of British Muslims. In the light of the London bombings this is a debate which many Muslims, to whom we spoke, believe is long overdue.

    Before that he addresses points raised by the MCB on five different letters (11th August, 20th August, 23rd August, 14th September and 16th September). Note, two of them before the programme even went out (21st August).

    The MCB’s Inayat Bunglawala in response said:

    MCB spokesman Inayat Bunglawala told the BBC News website: “We are not at all satisfied with Mike Robinson’s response and will be taking this up further by writing to the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit.”

    I have a few points to make.

    1) One of the MCB complaints (BBC response under ‘seperateness’) says.

    Ware stated in the programme that: “One overt sign of separateness is that of Muslim women covering themselves”. Why is the wearing of the hijab or jilbab regarded as a sign of ‘separateness?’ Does the Panorama team believe the Sikh turban or the Jewish yarmulke (skullcap) also constitute ‘signs of separateness?”

    In response, the Panorama editor says:

    The programme was about Muslims and the MCB, though of course we accept there are other symbols within multicultural Britain which can denote separateness to varying degrees.

    I thought that was poor. An expression of a religious symbol does not have to denote seperateness and for the Panorama team to label it as such was lame IMO. A Muslim woman can wear a hijab and can still adequately participate in society.

    2) One of the letters sent by the MCB, quotes me too, surprisingly, since the article in question criticised the MCB.

    3) The consensus, even from Muslims who intensely dislike the MCB, has been that this was a wasted opportunity and the Observer and Panorama fudged it up. I tend to agree. The Observer article was largely a waste of time. Martin Bright clearly could not find enough people to criticise the MCB.

    It didn’t find anything we didn’t already know. All religious organisations have links which are unsavoury. Secondly, the MCB is too good at closing ranks and silencing dissent. I state in my above linked article:

    For example, in the Observer article Abdul-Rehman Malik, contributing editor of Muslim magazine Q-News, is quoted saying: “You cannot be equivocal about innocent people. An innocent person in Tel Aviv is the same as an innocent person in Baghdad or London. The MCB has never clarified any of the critical issues and now the chickens are coming home to roost.”

    Either way, the MCB in response to the Observer dismissed him as someone “from the tiny circulation and very sporadically published magazine, Q-News”. That is what happens when you dare to raise your voice against the MCB.

    And lastly because Muslims themselves are too used to biased reporting against themselves, it was easy for the MCB to paint this as another such attack.

    It may have gotten the government and other organisations to think twice about the MCB (important), but for Muslims themselves it further closed that window of dissent. And unfortunately over the long term that is what is needed.

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    Filed in: Media,Religion

    2 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Limerick — on 1st October, 2005 at 2:41 pm  

      I don’t understand why the MCB don’t just let it go. They are clearly not going to get anywhere with this. They will end up just embarassing themselves.

    2. Vladimir — on 1st October, 2005 at 5:56 pm  

      Limerick, and what is exactly wrong with the MCB embarassing themselves?

      The more that embarasse themselves the greater the chances of the Muslim comunity realiseing that the MCB don’t represent them, but their very own agenda.

      Let the MCB embarasse themselves!, I jus wan’t front row seats at the theatre showing it!

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