the BBC lost in its own Moral Maze?
Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
14 November 2005
my article earlier this year (19 July 2005), I questioned
the BBC’s persistence in keeping the anti-Muslim
Melanie Phillips on the panel of the Radio Four programme,
The Moral Maze. Four months on and her poisonous
spin continues to fill the airwaves twice a week. On
Saturday my car radio accidentally tuned into the programme
and to my astonishment I heard Ms Phillips, while defending
the 90 day detention proposal, argue that if a Muslim
is found to have shaved off his body hair, it probably
means he is preparing for a suicide operation.
can excuse ignorance of the fact that it is standard
practice in religious hygiene for Muslims to shave bodily
hair, at least once every forty days, from places where
it is likely to cause odour or attract disease (i.e.
armpits and genitals). This exhortation is found in
the major books of fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence)
with direct reference to the practice of the Prophet
Muhammad (s) and his companions. Muslims in general
practise this as a matter of routine and were the government
to make this a criterion for distinguishing between
potential terrorist and harmless Muslim, then I am afraid
hundreds of thousands of Muslims in this country and
millions around the world would have to be incarcerated.
I find hard to forgive is the parading of ‘gross
ignorance’ as ‘informed opinion’.
Ms Phillips’ every word appears to jump straight
out of a propaganda manual filled with ‘spin’
and hoodwinking verbosity in the service of a Neo-con
pro-Israel agenda. She contends that the Church in this
country is in decay because it does not support Israel:
recent formation of the website ‘Anglicans for
Israel’ is also significant — not just because
it shows there are decent Anglicans who do understand
the difference between truth and lies, but that there
is now a public challenge to the church’s moral
decay from its own flock.” (Jewish Chronicle,
14 October 2005)
utilises every opportunity on air to pour scorn on Islam
and Muslims. The BBC shoulders the blame for promoting
Ms Phillips at a time when the need for community cohesion
and sincere dialogue has never been more pronounced.
The task for media organisations is no longer the traditional,
relatively straightforward, balancing of the left and
right. Nowadays the job must include protecting the
public from modern sleight of hand spin techniques and
double-speak advocacy when sensitive community relations
are at stake.
order to understand the absurdity of the BBC’s
persistence in this matter, it would be instructive
for the producers for one moment to consider what they
would do if it became clear that a permanent panellist
on one of their high profile programmes was also a hard-line
‘fundamentalist’ who routinely used the
opportunity to ridicule Jews and Judaism?
this to happen, we would be in no doubt as to the reaction:
loud and repeated condemnations and calls for ‘impartiality’
and ‘objectivity’ at the BBC. We would see
Holocaust survivors lining up in protest. The world
would be made to know that, despite the rebuttals from
other members of the panel, it is unacceptable to allow
anyone to use the BBC as a platform for racist diatribe
and the undermining of communal harmony in Britain.
It is abundantly obvious from Ms Phillips’ advocacy
for Israel and her constant attacks on Islam that she
holds a genuine and deep-seated disdain for Muslims.
Explaining the riots in France in her “Why France
is burning” Daily Mail article (07 November
2005) she wrote:
“France has been under attack by its Arab
Muslim minority… But now the school system
and the police have been weakened and national service
has gone. Banning the hijab (Islamic headscarf) in schools
represented a flickering of the old national certainty
as France sniffed the danger that had
arisen in its midst. But it was too little, and maybe
too late. Even now Britain, France and the rest of Europe
are still in varying stages of denial over Muslim unrest.
Reluctant even to admit that religion is central
to this phenomenon…”
Ignoring the indisputable fact that the French riots
were sparked by rhetoric similar to her own, she posted
another brazen article on her website today (14.11.05),
accusing the liberal media in Britain of telling a ‘Big
Lie’ by concealing the fact that Islam is the
cause of the riots in France.
the BBC does not consider this sort of blatant racist
and anti-Muslim advocacy in support of Israel morally
reprehensible, then I am left with no option but to
conclude that somewhere in the BBC’s ‘moral
maze’ the protocols of good practice and balanced
programming have been lost.