BBC News NI and the ‘family holiday gone wrong’

On October 28th the BBC News website posted a filmed report titled ‘I was whipped with metal chains in an Egyptian prison’ on its ‘Video’ page with the following one-line synopsis:

“For Ibrahim Halawa, what began as a family holiday in 2013 became four years in an Egyptian prison.”

The same video also appeared on the same day on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page with a longer synopsis. [emphasis added]

“For Ibrahim Halawa, what began as a family holiday in 2013 became four years in an Egyptian prison.

The Irish Egyptian student was arrested at a Cairo mosque after a sit-in protest descended into clashes with security forces.

He was accused, with 500 others, of inciting violence and sabotage. He was acquitted of all charges and release from prison in October 2017.

Speaking to the BBC Mr Halawa claims that while in an Egyptian prison he was physically and mentally abused, including being whipped with metal chains, stripped naked and hit with an AK47.

Before his imprisonment, Mr Halawa had taken part in protests against the military ousting of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

After his released he and members of his family faced questions about links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr Halawa denies claims that he or members of his family are members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The BBC contacted the Egyptian Government for a comment but did not receive a response.

Mr Halawa is now studying law at University College Dublin.”

The video is credited to Niall McCracken of BBC News Northern Ireland. According to McCracken’s Twitter feed, an additional report on the topic was aired on the ‘Good Morning Ulster’ programme on October 28th.

The details of Ibrahim Halawa’s case have been researched at length by Irish academic Dr Mark Humphrys but what should be made of the BBC’s amplification of Halawa’s claim that neither “he or members of his family are members of the Muslim Brotherhood”?

Ibrahim Halawa’s father is Hussein Halawa who, in addition to being a cleric  at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Dublin – aka Clonskeagh mosque – is also General Secretary of the ‘European Council for Fatwa and Research’ (ECFR) and has held that position for some considerable time.

The ECFR was created by the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe’ (FIOE) umbrella group and until November 2018 it was headed by Yusuf Qaradawi – a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The ECFR stated in 2018 that Hussein Halawa “presents a weekly call-in fatwa programme for Al-Hiwar channel in London”. Al-Hiwar was founded and is run by Azzam Tamimi who is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Notwithstanding those well documented facts, the BBC obviously considered it appropriate to amplify Ibrahim Halawa’s denials and his allegation that anyone raising questions about his family’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood does so out of racist motivation because he is “brown” rather than “blonde”, preferring instead to promote a superficial story about a “family holiday” gone wrong to its domestic and worldwide audiences.

Mainstreaming the eradication of Israel concept on BBC Two

On October 17th the producers of the BBC Two programme ‘Newsnight‘ thought it would be a good idea to bring a person the BBC knows to be a terror supporter into the studio to talk about the Khashoggi affair.

At 3:05 minutes into the interview with Azzam Tamimi, presenter Evan Davis widened the topic of discussion: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Davis: “I hear everything you’re saying but the standards of the region are not high, are they? And there are people on your side of the argument – you support Hamas, you’re a member of the Muslim Brotherhood – people on your side of the argument of course who do cruel things, assassinations. These are not techniques that are kind of, you know, unique to the Saudis.”

Tamimi: “Are you accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of doing this?”

Davis: “No, but Hamas certainly.”

Tamimi:  “The Muslim Brotherhood today is paying for defending democracy. We have today forty thousand prisoners in Egyptian jails because they stood for democracy.”

Refraining from challenging Tamimi’s absurd portrayal of an Islamist movement as ‘defenders of democracy’, Davis went on:

Davis: “And Hamas of course, in its struggle against Fatah and against Israel…”

Tamimi: “No; Hamas is a national liberation movement. Hamas is struggling for liberation of Palestine which is occupied by the Zionists. But that’s a different issue. Let’s not confuse issues.”

Davis: “Well I don’t want to…I don’t want to get in there but I was just wanting to make that point.”

Not only did Davis not “make that point” but his introduction of the unrelated and irrelevant topic of Hamas actually served no purpose other than to provide Tamimi with a cue for an inaccurate portrayal of Hamas and its aims which went completely unquestioned by Davis.

Like Hamas, Azzam Tamimi’s definition of ‘occupation’ includes every square metre of Israel. And thus – with no challenge whatsoever from the BBC’s presenter – an extremist terror supporter got a free pass to mainstream the concept that the eradication of the Jewish state is ‘liberation’ on prime time British television.

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BBC World Service’s ‘Newsday’ gives ‘open mike’ to Azzam Tamimi’s Hamas propaganda


BBC World Service’s ‘Newsday’ gives ‘open mike’ to Azzam Tamimi’s Hamas propaganda

Azzam Tamimi is a Hamas-linked, terror-supporting, suicide bombing-lauding racist who thinks that Jews are not entitled to self-determination and that Israel (or “this cancer” as he refers to it) should be destroyed.

Azzam Tamimi is also the person the BBC World Service apparently considered most suited to answer the question appearing in the bizarrely phrased promotional Tweet below for the July 1st edition of its radio programme ‘Newsday‘.

Tweet Tamimi interview

The interview is available here.

Azzam Tamimi: “Nobody knows who kidnapped them and who killed them. No Palestinian faction has so far claimed responsibility and on record Khaled Masha’al a few days ago on Al Jazeera said that he had no information whatsoever.”

The unidentified presenter does not bother to clarify to ‘Newsday’ listeners that Masha’al’s actual words were:

“No one claimed responsibility so far. I can neither confirm [Hamas’s responsibility] nor deny it,” Mashaal said, quickly adding that the circumstances of the kidnapping were more important than the perpetrators.

“Blessed be the hands that captured them,” Mashaal said. “This is a Palestinian duty, the responsibility of the Palestinian people. Our prisoners must be freed; not Hamas’s prisoners — the prisoners of the Palestinian people.”

Neither are listeners informed of other statements by Hamas officials, including Mushir al Masri’s Facebook comment.

 “The body of three settlers discovered,” wrote Hamas MP Mushir Al-Masri on his Facebook page. “Better luck next time, God willing.”

The interview continues:

Presenter: “But, Israel has actually named two men – prime suspects – with links to Hamas.”

Tamimi: “I don’t think this is the issue. The issue today is that Israel is punishing the entire Palestinian population in the West Bank collectively.”

No effort is made to correct Tamimi’s false allegation of ‘collective punishment’ which, coincidentally or not, has been one of the themes promoted by the BBC throughout its coverage of the kidnappings.

Presenter: “It is an issue though. Sorry, can we just get onto this point though. If three young men – you know – teenage boys have been murdered and the prime suspects they say are members of Hamas in Hebron. Well, are they?”

Tamimi: “I have no knowledge. I’m not a Hamas leader. Don’t ask me a question I don’t have an answer to.”

Presenter: “You say this isn’t the main point but it is the main point at the moment: who was responsible for this. And am I right in thinking that Hamas praised the kidnapping earlier?”

Tamimi: “The people responsible for any atrocities that are taking place, whether against the Jews or against the Arabs, are the occupiers of the West Bank. Had there been no occupation none of this would have happened.”

Presenter: “Do you condemn it then? As a… you describe yourself as an independent journalist; an independent Palestinian journalist….do you condemn the kidnapping of these teenagers?”

Tamimi: “These teenagers are settlers. They shouldn’t have been in the West Bank.”

Failing to clarify to audiences that only one of the three boys lived in what the BBC would describe as a ‘settlement’, the presenter goes on:

Presenter: “So you don’t condemn it?”

Tamimi: “The Israelis shouldn’t be in the West Bank. If they withdraw from the West Bank, none of this would have happened.”

Presenter: “Right, so if you don’t condemn the kidnapping, do you condemn their murder?”

Tamimi: “I condemn the Israeli occupation and persecution of the Palestinians.”

Presenter: “Why is it so difficult to condemn the murder of three innocent young boys just trying to hitch a ride and get home after their studies?”

Tamimi: “They were not at home. They were in an occupied territory.”

Presenter: “Well their homes; they’re buildings. You know their parents maybe came as settlers, but they’re just children going home.”

Tamimi: “All Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal according to international standards.”

No effort is made to conform to BBC standards of impartiality by pointing out to audiences that there are differing legal views on that topic.

Presenter: “Your view is then that these young boys are somehow guilty. Do you believe that many Palestinians in the West Bank have the same view as you? Not just that they’re settlers but they deserve to be killed for being there even if they’re teenagers.”

Tamimi: “The Israelis have been persecuting and oppressing the Palestinians for more than sixty years. The Palestinians have been the victims of the Israelis.”

Presenter: “So it’s OK to take on a soft target like a teenager. I mean the upshot is gonna be, if Hamas takes the same tone as you, that Israel is gonna strike back very forcefully. That’s what we seem to be hearing from the prime minister and the defence minister. What do you think the impact will be?”

Tamimi: “If the Israelis attack Gaza or attack the Palestinians it will not be the first time. They have done it before. They assassinated many leaders of Hamas. You see, luckily in Islam we believe that you only die when your time is up so you cannot live an hour extra if it is the time to go.”

Presenter: “Do you think this unity government between Hamas and Fatah that is only relatively recently put together – that’s going to collapse now?”

Tamimi: “It’s possible because it’s been strained by a number of developments, the last of which has been this affair of the three settlers. My view right from the beginning is that reconciliation is unlikely to succeed if you have two parties that do not agree on the basics. The Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas is a partner with the Israelis in a peace process that is considered illegitimate and [unintelligible] by Hamas, so it is highly likely that reconciliation cannot be delivered.”

Readers will probably not be surprised to learn that parts of this interview with its occasional contributor were also featured on the Guardian’s live page covering the funerals of the three murdered boys.

Beyond the presenter’s failure to correct Tamimi’s many inaccurate statements and to clarify important points of impartiality to listeners, the real issue here is why the BBC World service considers it appropriate or helpful to give an unhindered ‘open-mike’ to a known associate of an internationally designated terrorist organization with a long track record of expression of support for just such terrorist acts as the one this item purports to discuss.