When the BBC appointed a Muslim to be its Head of Religion in 2009, concerned voices (at blogs like Biased BBC) wondered whether he might start advancing his own Muslim faith.
Bearing that in mind, Ian Burrell of the Independent has a scoop:
"Muslim viewers want more programmes... where they see themselves"IAN BURRELL MEDIA EDITOR Friday 26 December 2014
The head of religious programmes at the BBC has complained that a lack of diversity and religious literacy at the top of British public service television is letting down modern audiences.Aaqil Ahmed, the BBC’s head of religion and ethics, complained of a “lack of religious literacy” in modern society and said viewers from minority faiths complained that television often failed to understand their beliefs and reflect them in its output. “We have got to do better,” he said.Mr Ahmed noted that census statistics showed that 2.7 million people in Britain and about one tenth of babies are born into the faith. “What [Muslim viewers] want is more programmes that explain what they believe in and more programmes where they see themselves,” he said.Highlighting the lack of religious diversity at senior levels of the industry, he said: “I’m not the first person to commission religious programmes for the BBC or Channel 4 but I’m the first person to have done [programmes on] the Koran and the life of Muhammad.”Noting that the UK is also home to substantial populations of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews, Mr Ahmed said religious-based programming was a way for the BBC to connect with minority audiences. “One of the things we have seen in the research is that these hard-to-reach audiences think that religion is important,” he said.
Though (being charitable) it may partly be down to the way Ian Burrell structured and worded that passage, it does seem nonetheless, doesn't it, that Aaqil Ahmed's concern for the feelings of minority faiths is overwhelmingly focused on just one of those faiths - his own Muslim faith? The others (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews) seem like afterthoughts.
And for any of you who might be thinking that Muslim voices are presently over-represented on the BBC's religious affairs output, Aaqil clearly disagrees:
“What [Muslim viewers] want is more programmes that explain what they believe in and more programmes where they see themselves”.
So it's probably safe to assume that we can expect to hear much more about Muslims and Islam on the BBC under Aaqil Ahmed's continuing watch.