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BBC 5 Live – unfair to Islam

Islam Channel has complained to Ofcom about being treated unfairly during BBC Radio 5 Live's Breakfast Show in September last year.

A caller to the show said the television channel, which broadcasts via Sky, was one of the problems that led to radicalisation of Muslims.

The station was discussing as to whether “Britain’s foreign policy was likely to lead to terror attacks in the future”. The programme featured a number of callers who gave their views as to whether Britain’s presence in Afghanistan and Iraq was likely to lead to further terrorist attacks in Britain.

One of the callers said that a lot of radicalised Muslims had cable television with access to Middle Eastern channels, which contributed to their radicalisation. The presenter, Nicky Campbell, said he had watched mainstream British Muslim channels “where the notion that the CIA perpetrated 9/11 has gone unchallenged”. Ed Husain, a guest on the programme, who was described as a “former radical Muslim” who now campaigned against extremism, then said: “…there’s a channel here and I’ll name it, Islam Channel, Sky 813, when suicide bombings occur, they refer to them as human operations, taking the sting out of the issue, partly funded by Saudi Arabia…”

Islam Channel, which is licensed by Ofcom and provides news, current affairs and entertainment programming from an Islamic perspective, complained to Ofcom that it was treated unfairly in the programme as broadcast, and that it was not given an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond to the serious allegations made about it in the programme.

The BBC said that the remarks rested on direct observation by Mr Husain and (in the case of referring to Israel as “the Zionist state”) Mr Campbell. The BBC believed them to be statements of fact in respect of the terms used in Islam Channel broadcasts and considered that there was no unfairness in making them.

But the BBC did acknowledge that Islam Channel should have been offered an opportunity to respond, and therefore Ofcom upheld the complaint that Islam Channel did receive unfair treatment.

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