h/t Michael Dickson
The double standard evident in the language used by the BBC when reporting terror attacks in differing locations is regularly discussed on these pages and has been the subject of numerous complaints to the BBC.
In April of this year the BBC responded to one such complaint by stating that:
“Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict – as in the Middle East – to use the term “terror attack” or similar might be seen to be taking sides. There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts.
In a situation where a country that is not involved in a direct physical combat comes under attack, it may be reasonable to construe that as a terrorist incident.
The use of such terminology is never an exact science but where a continuing conflict exists, it is reasonable that the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides.”
Regrettably, that response subsequently received endorsement from the UK’s communications regulator OFCOM.
However, as has been noted here in the past, the BBC has used the word terror when reporting planned and actual attacks in Western countries that are part of the international coalition fighting ISIS.
The BBC News website’s main report on the November 24th attack on worshippers in a mosque in the northern Sinai region of Egypt – “Egypt attack: Gunmen kill 235 in Sinai mosque” – refrained from using the words terror, terrorists and terrorism throughout, except when quoting officials. [emphasis added]
“Militants have launched a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai province, killing 235 people, state media say. […]
No group has yet claimed the attack, but militants affiliated with so-called Islamic State (IS) have been responsible for scores of deadly attacks in the province. […]
Witnesses said dozens of gunmen arrived in off-road vehicles and bombed the packed mosque before opening fire on worshippers as they tried to flee.
The assailants are reported to have set parked vehicles on fire in the vicinity to block off access to the mosque.”
Given the above response from BBC Complaints one can only conclude that “the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides” against terrorists who cold-bloodedly murdered hundreds of civilians, including children, in a place of worship.
An Egyptian independent news website has also taken note of the terminology used by the BBC.
“On Friday, as hundreds of worshipers gathered to pray in Al-Rawda mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai, a group of unidentified individuals opened fire and used explosives, killing at least 305 people and injuring more than 100 others.
Following the attack, a number of media organisations used the word ‘militant’ to describe the attackers, while others used the word ‘terrorist’.
Internationally, prominent news organisations used the word ‘militant’. The New York Times headline stated ‘Militants Kill 235 at Sufi Mosque in Egypt’s Deadliest Terrorist Attack’. Meanwhile, the BBC referred to the attackers as militants throughout its article.”
Once again we see that the BBC’s long-standing failure to distinguish between method and aims produces inconsistent reporting, with journalists sometimes following the problematic BBC guidelines on ‘Language when Reporting Terrorism’ and sometimes not – often depending upon geographical location of the story. That approach is clearly in need of serious and urgent review if the corporation intends its audiences to believe that its reporting is impartial.