The head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has finally admitted what many of us have long known: that his organization treats Islam more respectfully than it does other religions. In a speech to a religious think tank, Thompson claimed the BBC has to treat Islam with greater sensitivity because Muslims are a minority in Britain and aren’t fully integrated into society.
The BBC’s “sensitivity” has for several years manifested itself in news reports that offer excuses for Islamist terrorism, most commonly by linking radicalization to British and American foreign policy. The failure of many Muslims to integrate, while acknowledged by Thompson, is invariably blamed by the BBC on poverty, injustice, and racism on the part of less enlightened sections of the British public. And the words “Muslim” and “Islam” are invariably omitted from stories about honor killings and forced marriages; such crimes are instead framed as issues for Britain’s “Asian community” to address, to the consternation of reform-minded Muslims and non-Muslim British Asians alike.
The BBC’s kid-gloves approach to all things Islamic isn’t limited to its news coverage — it informs the corporation’s fictional output too and stands in stark contrast to its apparent eagerness to offend Christians. So, while viewers are treated to Jerry Springer: The Opera and numerous shows in which Christians are portrayed as either idiots or villains, the producers of a popular hospital drama last year scrapped a storyline about a Muslim suicide bomber for fear of causing offense.
Few of the BBC’s critics would seriously suggest that the broadcaster should refrain from satirizing religion (the obvious solution for people who think they’re going to be offended by a program is not to watch it); they ask only that the BBC be as “fearless” in dealing with issues surrounding Islam as it is in its treatment of Christianity. But of course that’s not going to happen.
Thompson attempted to justify the BBC’s blatant double standard in his speech, telling his audience:
What Christian identity feels like it is about to the broad population is a little bit different to people for whom their religion is also associated with an ethnic identity which has not been fully integrated.
There’s no reason why any religion should be immune from discussion, but I don’t want to say that all religions are the same. To be a minority I think puts a slightly different outlook on it.
Thompson is certainly right to assert that Muslims are not “fully integrated” into British society. And one of the reasons why many Muslims feel no obligation to assimilate is that the BBC, along with other proponents of multiculturalism, has for years been telling them that they don’t have to integrate.