Those familiar with the BBC’s bias towards and promotion of the Islamic faith and its regular apologias on behalf of Islamic extremism will have barely raised an eyebrow at the news that £20,000 from one of the corporation’s charity appeals ended up in the hands of the Muslim terrorists who murdered 52 people in London in 2005.
The money, raised by the BBC’s Children in Need telethons, was given to a “community school” in the northern English city of Leeds — a hotbed of Islamic extremism — between 1999 and 2002. The school passed the money to an Islamic bookshop run by two of the men who bombed London on July 7, 2005, Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. Khan and Tanweer used the money to produce propaganda videos and other materials that were used to radicalize other young Muslim men.
It should be said that neither the BBC nor the charity’s trustees knew the money was going to promote jihad. It’s also worth noting that the scandal was uncovered by the BBC’s own Newsnight program — although the program, which stands out among the corporation’s news operations in its willingness to tackle stories about Islamic extremism, airs on the BBC’s second channel in a late-night slot, and it was left to newspapers to give the story wider coverage. (You can watch the Newsnight report here.)
However, this isn’t the first time the BBC has found itself in the embarrassing position of trying to explain away links, however indirect, to Muslim terrorists. Last year it emerged that the corporation paid for two men who were later convicted of terror offenses to go on a paintballing trip as part of a documentary, and failed to notify police when one of the men admitted to a researcher that he knew members of the cell that tried unsuccessfully to bomb the Tube network two weeks after the July 7 attacks.
For an organization like the BBC to find itself associated with Islamic terrorists once could be considered unfortunate; for it to happen twice smacks of carelessness. But then the political and cultural mindset of the BBC, rooted as it is in the twin shibboleths of political correctness and multiculturalism, makes incidents such as these inevitable.
With regard to Islam, the mindset dictates that any religion which challenges the Judeo-Christian hegemony so despised by the Left must necessarily be a good thing — particularly if the majority of its adherents happen to have dark skin — and so under no circumstances must anything be broadcast that might possibly offend Muslims. (Don’t take it from me — take it from the leading BBC figures who admitted as much during an “impartiality summit.”)
It follows that when violence is done in the name of Islam, the only possible explanations are that the religion has been “hijacked” or that those who perpetrated the violence must have suffered some unbearable provocation. Thus, a person who blows innocent civilians to pieces on a Tube train can be seen as effecting an extreme but understandable response to some wicked act of Western imperialism.
And when, intermittently, some terror attack or court case forces the BBC to report on the radicalization of British Muslims, the resulting stories inevitably include the words “British and American foreign policy” within the first few paragraphs. As concern over Islamic extremism has grown in recent years, the BBC’s efforts to downplay the problem have intensified. And so we get endless stories about the “challenges” facing British Muslims trying to integrate into society and light-hearted reports about burqa fashion shows and other “quirky” aspects of Islamic life. Meanwhile, the BBC has effectively banned the use of the word “terrorist” in reference to atrocities carried out by Islamists, while just this weekend BBC reporter Lyse Doucet told a broadcasting conference that the Western media was failing to convey the “humanity” of the Taliban to viewers.
It says everything about the BBC’s attitude to Islamic extremism that the documentary which entailed the notorious paintballing trip was called Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic. So gullible were the program’s makers, and so blinded by their determination to portray young Muslim men in a positive light, that they recruited active supporters of terrorism to take part in a show that was intended to make viewers embarrassed about their silly prejudices.
The self-censorship of the corporation’s drama output is just as bad. Last year plans to feature a storyline involving Muslim suicide bombers in the hospital drama Casualty were scrapped, while in the spy series Spooks the bad guys inevitably turn out to be from the CIA or Mossad, rather than al-Qaeda or Hamas. And in possibly the most egregious example of factual inversion to date, a recent BBC drama featured a Muslim being beheaded by an extremist Christian.
We don’t know exactly who made the decision to hand over the £20,000 that found its way to Khan and Tanweer, but we can safely assume that those responsible shared the BBC’s concerns about “sensitivity” in dealing with all things Islamic. The current board of trustees for Children in Need comprises senior BBC employees, charity professionals, and what might loosely be termed “diversity specialists.” If we had “community organizers” here in the UK you can bet a couple of them would be on the board too.
According to the Telegraph report, the bookshop run by Khan and Tanweer told charity regulators that its aim was “the advancement of the Islamic faith,” while the “community school” that funneled the money to the pair claimed its mission was to “advance the education” of Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils. Enough there, surely, to lead any responsible organization to ask precisely what its money would be used for, or to at least make follow-up checks.
But the trustees chose not to ask, exercising a degree of deference that’s hard to imagine being extended to other religious organizations — it would be highly surprising if, for example, money from Children in Need found its way to a Catholic anti-abortion group. Not surprisingly, the suspicion is that the trustees chose not to pry into the activities of Muslim “charities” for fear of causing offense.
The affair raises wider issues about the ease with which charities can be used as fronts for extremism and the need for closer scrutiny. But it’s also a reminder that the obsession with the PC tenets of “sensitivity” and “inclusiveness” exhibited by the BBC are more than just a source of irritation to the millions of Britons who pay for the privilege of being lectured by it.
The unwillingness of the BBC and the rest of the largely unaccountable cultural establishment to challenge the activities of radical Islamists emboldens the extremists, alienates reformers, undermines intelligence gathering and law enforcement efforts, and leads to increased hostility on the part of the general public towards those Muslims who are law-abiding and happy to integrate into British society.
Unfortunately, the institutional conceitedness that pervades the BBC makes it unlikely that lessons will be learned from its entanglements with jihadists. So far there’s no evidence that its indiscretions have led directly to loss of life, but we may not be so lucky next time.