The members of the Muslim Council of Britain were outraged at the BBC after the broadcasting of the popular program, ”Panorama” last week which tackled the failure of the council in its supervision of 400 mosques and Muslim organizations in Britain to curb extremists. The ”Panorama” special dealt with interviews with Islamic leaders in Britain who expressed their support for suicide operations against Israeli civilians yet condemned the London attacks. The episode also discussed the Islamic view of Christians, Jews and Hindus and the reality that some Muslims consider members of other religions as atheists.
The BBC program was full of questions that preoccupy Europe today, who are the enemies living among us, why do they label others as infidels and why do they hate us? The question of whether or not the perpetrators of the London attacks were Muslims still puzzles and concerns many at the same time. Consequently, since the atrocities took place, the BBC and other western media networks have been engrossed in trying to answer this question, a task that would be uncomfortable for us as Arabs and Muslims to endure. The proof that we are uneasy about this matter is apparent in our Arab media as the question is hardly addressed. Despite the importance of the Palestinian and Iraqi issues, with which our media is so preoccupied, they should not overshadow the need to address this issue, which is related to the London bombings and attacks in other parts of Europe.
What was interesting about this particular Panorama episode was the battle between the journalist John Ware and British Muslim leaders concerning their viewpoints of suicide operations and non-Muslims. Such topics when tackled on foreign TV stations in languages other than Arabic raise suspicions about the credibility of the promoters of such acts. The same familiar face frequently features on our Arab screens. There remains the belief that "We are the believers and the people of paradise and they are the unbelievers and the people of hell". Such is a language that is present on a daily basis and hardly any broadcasting channels are free of such dispute. Yet within the minds of those who propagate these acts, lies the belief that the world will not heed their message when repeated in Arabic on Arab broadcasting channels. These very people, however, will use different terminology when speaking in English on foreign television networks. For this reason, when they are confronted with what they have previously argued in Arabic, they seem confused and frantically search for other arguments, which was exactly the case on the Panorama special.
However, the world is closely watching. There are western institutions that specialize in translating material that is used by all forms of Arab media. The majority of programs are recorded and later broadcasted, therefore when a Muslim cleric features on some broadcasting channel referring to Jews as "grandchildren of monkeys and pigs," it is inevitable that such words will reach millions of people around the world. Such a portrayal of these extremist attitudes causes the Muslim and Arab immigrants and their children in the west to pay the price for such words.
The accusations that British Muslims have made against the BBC of having a Zionist agenda are easily refutable in comparison to the statements made by Muslim leaders themselves. The problem does not lie in what the BBC said, but rather in what we say.