BBC continues to mainstream extremist group

h/t Sussex Friends of Israel

The January 31st edition of BBC One’s “moral, ethical and religious debate” programme ‘The Big Questions’ included a revival of the ‘Mossad stole my shoe’ story from last year.

The inventor of that story, Asghar Bukhari, has apparently since relocated to the UAE but the organization he previously headed – MPACUK – was represented on this BBC programme by a former assistant to the controversial ex-MP for Bradford East – who is apparently not averse to doing a bit of fund-raising for extremists in his spare time.

As readers can see in the clip from the full programme below, Raza Nadim obviously still buys into that story and unfortunately host Nicky Campbell only adds credence to the outlandish conspiracy theory.  

Of course what is really disturbing about this programme is that fact that even after the spotlight placed on MPACUK’s long-known racism and extremism by Bukhari’s ridiculous claim and despite the UK government’s recognition of conspiracy theories and antisemitism as precursors to extremism, the BBC still continues to provide a platform for an organization flagged up in the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism a decade ago (from paragraph 140, page 29, here) and included on a list of proscribed organisations holding “racist or fascist views” by the National Union of Students.

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BBC Trending airbrushes MPACUK

On June 15th BBC Trending got in on the ‘Mossad stole my shoe’ carnival with an article which for some unknown reason was deemed newsworthy enough to be included in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

Trending on ME HP

BBC Trending purports to be “the BBC bureau on the internet” and states that its mission is “reporting on what’s being shared and asking why it matters”. BBC blogger Mike Wendling opened his post with an unsourced description of Asghar Bukhari as a British Muslim ‘leader’.Trending shoe art

“Thousands have now mocked a British Muslim leader’s comments by using the satirical slogan “Mossad Stole My Shoe” – but the man behind the hashtag says it was intended to expose anti-Semitic attitudes in Muslim communities.”

Wendling’s description of Bukhari’s home-baked organization is no less bizarre – and heavily airbrushed.

“It all began with a Facebook post by Asghar Bukhari, a founding member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPAC) – a UK pressure group which works to counter Islamophobia and Zionism, among other aims. He said his home was burgled, only a single shoe was stolen, and claimed it was a deliberate tactic of intimidation by Zionists.” [emphasis added]

Given Bukhari’s long-held penchant for launching personal attacks on Muslims who do not conform to his own check list of ‘appropriate’ Muslim qualities, one might very well question the accuracy of the description of MPAC UK as an organization “which works to counter Islamophobia”. And in fact, Wendling’s account of the story includes a description of Bukari’s subsequent racist jibe at one of his regular targets – Maajid Nawaz.

“In the video, Bukhari called Nawaz an “Uncle Tom nut job” and accused him of getting funding from pro-Israel supporters. Nawaz dismissed the allegations.”

Likewise, Wendling apparently has no qualms about describing an organization which sets out to “counter” the right of a particular ethno-religious group to self-determination with the bland term “pressure group” – although one would of course be surprised to find the BBC characterizing any group which opposed the rights of women or homosexuals in such anodyne terms.Bukhari tweets

Wendling writes:

“”There’s an unhealthy anti-Semitic strand to MPAC’s thinking,” Nawaz told BBC Trending.”

However, he refrains from providing readers with any further information about MPACUK’s controversial record. As ‘Harry’s Place’ reported a decade ago:

“The evidence of MPACUK’s virulent antisemitism has been available for years to anyone who cared to seek it out. Writing in 2003 for a website of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, Dave Rich revealed:

‘The Muslim Public Affairs Committee have used their website to reproduce material taken from the sites of both David Irving and The Heretical Press (a far right publisher based in Hull)… Often when Islamist organisations use far right sources it reveals a deeper antisemitism. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee’s reproduction of material from the far right sits on their website alongside open support for Holocaust denier David Irving, accusations of Zionist media and political control, lists of Jewish donors to New Labour and an investigation into whether the Talmud is “the most Powerful and Racist book in the world”. In one example which neatly illustrates the growing commonalities between political extremes, the Islamist Muslim Public Affairs Committee published an article by Professor Kevin MacDonald – who appeared as a witness for David Irving in his failed libel action against Professor Deborah Lipstadt – on the subject which is currently of so much interest to the far left and the anti-war movement: the “International Jewish Origins of Neoconservatism”’.”

Here is what the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism had to say about MPAC UK way back in 2006:

“The activities of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, MPACUK, have given cause for concern. Although its rhetoric is often extremist, MPACUK identifies itself as part of the mainstream British Muslim community, describing itself as “the UK’s leading Muslim civil liberties group, empowering Muslims to focus on non-violent Jihad and political activism”. Originally set up as a web-based media monitoring group, MPACUK’s declared first mission was to fight the perceived anti-Muslim bias in the media and to redress the balance. However, MPACUK has been criticised for publishing material on its website promoting the idea of a worldwide Zionist conspiracy, including the reproduction of articles originally published on neo-Nazi and Holocaust Denial websites, and is currently banned from university campuses under the NUS’s ‘No Platform’ policy. MPACUK are known to have removed an offensive posting from their website on one occasion, after complaints were made, but thereafter continued to publish similar material.”

So, whilst Mike Wendling may have reported “on what’s being shared”, beyond the obvious reason put forward by Maajid Nawaz (“By mocking something like this, I hope to make it more taboo and less acceptable for Muslims to spread these kinds of conspiracy theories”), he actually did not adequately address the issue of “why it matters”.

One of the main reasons this story does matter is because (although Wendling refrains from mentioning the fact in his piece) the obviously obsessive conspiracy theorist and extremist Asghar Bukhari (along with others from his organization) is a regular guest on BBC programmes – and not least the BBC’s Asian Network which even promotes the MPACUK website as a “useful link”.

That in turn matters because the BBC’s constitutional document charges it with the task of “sustaining citizenship and civil society” and civil society is not sustained by the airbrushed amplification of conspiracy theory promoting organisations with any kind of racist agenda. Obviously though, the BBC has yet to realise that. 

Resources:

Mike Wendling: Twitter or michael.wendling@bbc.co.uk

BBC Trending: Twitter

BBC News – contact and complaints

A question for BBC News

In light of the ‘Mossad stole my shoe’ story recently found in both the mainstream and social media (see examples here, here, here, here, here and here), this seems like a very apposite – if not long overdue – question.

Hillel Neuer tweet

Mind you, the promotion of crazy conspiracy theories never prevented Abdel Bari Atwan from being a BBC frequent flyer.

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