The British Home Secretary’s plan to introduce measures to curb the media appearances of extremists was the subject of an item on a BBC Asian Network radio programme hosted by Nihal Arthanayake which was broadcast on October 1st.
Curiously, BBC producers apparently thought that a meaningful contribution to the debate on that topic could be made by a man introduced as “a social commentator” who has previously promoted the racist, misogynist and homophobic Yusuf Qaradawi as a source of “nuanced understanding” on the BBC’s airwaves. And that, as is well known (although apparently not to BBC Asian Network producers), is just part of Mo Ansar’s repertoire.
“[Tom] Holland challenged the ‘expert’ to name the first Muslim philosopher to condemn slavery. Ansar did not know but came up with a Boko-Haramish defence of slavery in Muslim states: ‘If slaves are treated justly, with full rights, and no oppression whatsoever… why would anyone object, Tom?’
Like so many on the white far Right, Ansar has Jews on the brain. To him, David Miliband is the ‘Zionist Jew Miliband,’ while he will pass on his crackpot theory that Jesus was not a Jew to anyone who will listen.”
Existing BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality theoretically ensure that audiences should at least be aware of any extremist ideologies held by interviewees before hearing or reading their contributions to BBC content.
“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”
And – as readers are no doubt aware – the BBC’s ECU recommitted to that position a year ago.
“The production team have been reminded of the importance of clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant and not immediately clear from their position or the title of their organisation.”
The meaningless title “social commentator” cannot possibly be said to have adequately summarised the very relevant issue of the “standpoint” of this particular BBC interviewee.