From 5 to 15 October last month the BBC conducted what it called the Mori national survey of British Asians. The details of the survey were aired on 28 October. The focus of the survey was to ask British Asians whether or not “the Muslim extremist groups based in the UK should be outlawed”. The survey claimed that 61 percent of the respondents said that the extremist Muslim groups should be banned. As a reaction to the survey, Mr. Inayat Bunglawala, Secretary of Media Committee, The Muslim Council of Britain, sent two questions to the BBC:
1.Why not ask a similar question about Hindu and Sikh extremist groups? Hindu mobs led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad massacred over two thousand Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat in March 2002. The VHP has many branches in the UK and openly raises funds in many Hindu temples and shops for its anti-Muslim campaign in India.
2.How can an extremist organisation be defined? Is an extremist organisation one that breaks the law or merely one whose views and rhetoric the BBC may find distasteful, but it acts within the law?
Mr. Owen Bentley of BBC Asian Network responded to Mr. Bunglawala. He said that the reason a similar question was not asked about extremist groups from other faith communities was “because the poll was commissioned in a particular news environment. At a time of rising tension over Iraq and the Bali bombing and in the long shadow of 9/11 the news focus was on Muslim groups”.
The deception and duplicity of the BBC via Mr. Bentley is too obvious to be ignored. As Mr. Bunglawala rightly puts: What have the Muslims and the Muslim groups in the UK got to do with the Bali bombing?
The BBC has no answers to these questions. One might ask the BBC: If news environment is what necessitates a survey, can there be, journalistically speaking, a more ideal news environment than the one created by Ariel Sharon since he took over?
In the past two years, Israel has killed more than 2000 Palestinians, ranging from infants to the elderly of both sexes. By average, each day, for the past two years, roughly 3 Palestinians have been killed by the Israelis. And yet that has not created a news environment in which the BBC could ask whether or not the UK should close down Israeli embassy in London. Will the BBC conduct a survey of the London-based diplomats on whether or not regarding George Bush as a possible psychiatric case for repeatedly calling Sharon, a war criminal and pathological killer, a “man of peace”?
The pro-West dictatorship in Algeria has been assassinating its opponents, and the West-friendly Saudi fiefdom has been treating non-Wahabi Muslims like vermin. And yet no “particular news environment” has been created! Why not ask the Christian Brits whether or not Roman Catholicism be outlawed given the active involvement of the white Belgian Catholic clergy in the multiple Rwanda-Burundi massacres that have cost more than half a million lives? Why not ask the white Brits about whether or not to break off with the United States diplomatically which has been the main source of the IRA funding.
The “rising tension” over Iraq is a “particular” news environment, though the war has not taken place so far. What about the war in Chechnya in which Russia has been carrying out massacre after massacre? Besides, is it journalistically, or otherwise, honest to ask Hindus and other non-Muslim British of Asian origins regarding “extremist” Muslim groups?
Will the BBC ask the British nationals of Palestinian origin regarding whether or not the supporters of the Likud Party be outlawed? How about asking the British Arabs on whether or not Ariel Sharon be tried as a war criminal in the Hague. How will the Likud supporters react to these questions, and what answer will the BBC give them?
Abbas Zaidi writes for The Nation, Lahore. His writings have appeared, amongst others, in Exquisite Corpse, The Salisbury Review, and Southern Oceanic Review.