Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

The BBC sides with Islamophobic demagogues

I've just been looking at the coming week's edition of Radio Times. Now for non-UK readers, RT is a BBC publication. In my youth it carried programme details for the various BBC TV and radio channels: for the rest you had to buy other publications. Nowadays it carries full programme information, including most of the satellite and cable channels, and its features and articles cover all the main channels as well. I buy it mainly because its radio listings are more comprehensive and informative than those of its rivals.

Now then. Channel 4 (not a BBC channel) is running a programming strand for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Fair enough: I watched one a few days ago debunking the various 9/11 conspiracy theories fairly thoroughly. But next Monday there is a programme entitled Ground Zero Mosque. Now as soon as I read the title I could tell this was likely to be an Islamophobic rant, or at least sympathetic to the protestors, as the Park 51 development is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero. See here. More to the point, using the name attached to the project by its opponents rather than its real name is as good an indicator of the programme's editorial approach as would be a programme on Israel which referred to it as "The Zionist Entity", or one on President Obama entitled "The Muslim In The White House".

Now Channel Four is perfectly entitled to run a programme siding with the protestors if it wishes, and the rest of us can watch it or not, and complain or not to Channel Four and their advertisers. What I found interesting, revealing as it is of the extent to which Islamophobic ideas are entering the mainstream via mass media such as the BBC, was the little description of the program in Radio Times, which picked it as one of Monday's programmes to be given a few paragraphs at the head of the listings. I quote the entry below in full: it was written by Alison Graham, one of Radio Times's regular writers.

Ground Zero Mosque


Sharif El-Gamal, the New York property developer who wants to build an Islamic cultural centre two blocks from Ground Zero, can't believe all the fuss. The project has almost been derailed, notably by the very vocal anger of the 9/11 bereaved, who believe the plan is grotesquely insensitive.

But, say El-Gamal, all wide-eyed: "it never once crossed my mind about hurting anyone". I will leave it to you to decide whether he is staggeringly naive or just a chancer.

Protestors may get their wish. Angry American Muslims have distanced themselves from El-Gamal and his centre. And, crucially, the money is running out.

Alison Graham

Well, at least she admits that it's not a mosque and isn't even close to Ground Zero. But "very vocal anger of the 9/11 bereaved"? Please. The "very vocal anger" all comes from professional Islamophobes such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, and if either of those publicity whores (far more deserving of the description "chancer" than El-Gamal) had lost family members in the Twin Towers you may be sure they would have mentioned it somwhere in among the rants about global caliphates and stealth jihad. The actual families of 9/11 victims are divided between supporters and opponents of the centre, but that doesn't suit Graham's and the BBC's agenda.

"I will leave it to you to decide whether he is staggeringly naive or just a chancer." Oh really. Do we have no other choices, Ms Graham? Can't we decide that he's a property developer wishing to build on a site already in use for Muslim worship, not even in sight of the WTC site (and the WTC itself contained facilities for Muslim worship)? Can't we decide that he's a Muslim wishing to honour the 31 Muslim victims of 9/11 and their families? Why must we take only your sarcastic and hate-laden dichotomy?

"Protestors may get their wish." The wish of the most vocal of the protestors is for all orthodox Muslims to be expelled from the USA and Europe. What Pamela Geller, whose hatred of Muslims causes her to defend Slobodan Milosevic and the violent extremists of the EDL, wishes for, one can only guess, though conversion of all Muslims to some other religion seems likely given that she runs a website Leave Islam Safely. Graham seems content with the thought of these people getting what they wish for. She goes on to tell us that "angry American Muslims" oppose the centre. Well after some time hunting on the web I have found an angry American Muslim who is cool about the centre, though as in his case it's because he believes that park 51's Imam Rauf is a tool of American imperialism and that the whole controversy has been manufactured by the US government to promote the "official view" of how the WTC was brought down, and by whom. Uh-huh. I can't see any other signs of Muslims, angry or not, distancing themselves from the project. As for the money running out, the American media (and the internet) are full of folk complaining about how much funding it's getting, and from where, rather than complaining of (or gloating over) any shortfalls. Wishful thinking, Ms Graham?

The BBC is becoming well-known for its institutionalised Islamophobia (see here, here, here and here - and that's ignoring the BBC's woeful record on reporting from Israel and Palestine where Islamophobia can be seen as merely a byproduct of its consistently pro-Zionist bias). However, as a UK resident and license fee payer I don't have to pay for Channel 4 to produce biased rubbish (or anything else), but unfortunately I do have to fund the BBC's decision to add some lies and spin of its own. I shall be complaining: I hope other British RT readers will too.