Tuesday 21 May 2013

A Problem like Sharia.

By the time Jane Corbin’s Panorama programme about Sharia was aired we’d already seen the most sensational snippet of footage in the programme because it had been trailed, several times, during the preceding week. In it, an aged bearded Muslim elder, a sort of Islamic marriage councillor, advised an undercover reporter posing as a battered wife that unless there were visible bruises, she must keep her fictitious husband’s domestic violence to herself, rather than report it to the police.

Jane Corbin found this extremely shocking in the puffed-up way the BBC has of being shocked - shocked - whenever they’ve decided it’s about  time they showed the public something shocking, in order to make us all marvel at Panorama’s cutting edge.

On reflection, it seemed pretty understandable that the bearded Muslim cleric wished to keep it in the family, because he knows, as do you and I, that once the police get hold of something like that theres‘s no turning back.
One day the BBC might discover that police and the social services treat family matters in an insensitive, ham-fisted manner, and perhaps they will be shocked - shocked,  and decide it’s time to make an equally groundbreaking programme about that. 

The editorial whimsy that governs choice of material to be subjected to the BBC’s eagle-eyed gaze is a mystery, but that time the spotlight was directed at Sharia. The beam alighted upon the profound disservice Britain’s Islamic councils do to Muslim women. This topic was long overdue, which perhaps took much of the edge off the shock.
Jane Corbin has an erratic CV when it comes to Panoramas. One minute she’s taking a walk in the park in Jerusalem, saying all kinds of disparaging things about Israel, next she’s investigating the Mavi Marmara and actually supporting the Israeli version of the event, and doing so against the extremely hostile prevailing wind that’s constantly blowing in from the BBC and surrounding media. She’s showing footage of the incident instead of outrageous fantasies that pro-Palestinian activists are inexplicably able to wangle onto BBC news programmes disguised as factual reportage.

Those who are always careful to distance themselves from the EDL, Geert Wilders or anything Islamophobic while simultaneously - if half-heartedly - espousing many of their sentiments, inevitably tie themselves into knots. If you’re not a fan of Shari’a and you recognise the danger of an effectively unregulated parallel legal system, and if you accept that this was a legitimate subject for the BBC to tackle, but nevertheless found the programme unsatisfactory, you might want to ask yourself whether it was perhaps Islamophobic. But if you were honest, you’d have to concede that the flaws in the programme lay elsewhere.

The problem was that the subject deserved a deep and fundamental scrutiny rather than the superficial shortcut on offer. Furthermore, it was unnecessarily sensationalised by using a modus operandi plagiarized from channel 4‘s Undercover Mosque, with a provocative honey-trap style deception grafted on. Jane Corbin took the easy route, cheating viewers by depriving us of the grown-up programme we deserve, one that takes a wider look at the  situation with the common sense perspective the BBC is supposed to take.  
The folly of the implication that ‘going to the the police’ or ‘not going to the police’ was the crux of the matter and a kind of cure-all for domestic violence was brought home, so to speak, with the news surrounding the police’s mishandling of the case of Maria Stubbings who was murdered by her violent partner despite unequivocal warning signs. 

Must we always reach the point of no return before we dare admit we might have been wrong?

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