Sunday 11 January 2015

Where the focus lies

I do worry sometimes that by focusing so much on the issue of BBC bias I might be seeing far too much through the eyes of my own bias against BBC bias. 

It's a grim fact that a Muslim has also been a victim of the terrorist atrocities in Paris - namely policeman Ahmed Merabet, murdered despite pleading for his life. It's also a blessed fact that a Muslim supermarket assistant working in the Jewish-owner grocery, Lassana Bathily, helped save 15 French Jewish people by guiding them to a freezer when all 16 of them hid from the terrorists and survived.

Is is significant vis-a-vis BBC bias or is it merely an example of me wearing my 'BBC bias'-tinted glasses then that I've been hearing the BBC vigorously pushing these stories (showing Muslims in a good light) at the expense of the stories of the five Jewish victims of the jihadist gunman? 

Because I can honestly say that I've not seen or heard very much about the Jewish victims of this atrocity anywhere on the BBC beyond their names - Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada. Have you?

I was discussing this with Sue earlier, before listening to Radio 4's Broadcasting House. As I was about to listen to Broadcasting House, it crossed my mind to wonder - thanks to my 'BBC bias' obsession - what Islamophile angle the programme might adopt.

Within seconds of the programme beginning came this from BBC correspondent Emma Jane Kirby: 
As Paris prepares for its show of unity, I'll be reporting on the days of terror that have shattered this country and I'll speak to friends of the murdered Muslim policeman who died defending the cherished French right to say whatever one wants to say no matter who it offends.
So, is this my bias, or BBC bias? Or both?


Listening on, Emma Jane gave a fascinating account of her own feelings towards Charlie Hebdo. She has a cartoon mocking Nicholas Sarkozy, drawn by a CH cartoonist, on her wall. He drew it for her during her visit to Charlie Hebdo.

She discusses France's attitude to Charlie Hebdo too - the way is was seen as the embodiment of the post-1968 French spirit, making people laugh, being defiant. That's why so many are saying, 'I am Charlie'.

She then posed a question:
There is no link insisted the French president Francois Hollande between Islam and these attacks, but many here are asking themselves if this can really be true. Can you be Charlie is you are Muslim?
Immediately, she supplied her own answer to that question:
Among the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre was a Muslim policeman, Ahmed Merabet. He was shot dead at point-blank range as he tried to intercept the fleeing gunmen. Trending on Twitter now is another hashtag, I am Ahmed. In a couscous restaurant close to the offices of Charlie Hebdo, his bereaved friends told me who Ahmed was and what he stood for.
And very moving it was too.

Of course, it still doesn't dispel my feeling that the BBC is on a mission here. Especially as Emma Jane went on to ask them about the 'backlash' and the possibility of the far-right taking advantage of the situation. The message was that 'I am Charlie' and 'I am Ahmed' are one and the same, and that "if ever France needed to unify it's now".


  1. The BBC needs to play down the Jewish angle as much as possible for two reasons. First, it's clear from reporting and what the various presenters have been saying that it's a non-starter angle for them. The story is the danger of a backlash against Muslims, and talking about Jews detracts from that. Secondly, there will certainly have been editorial discussions beforehand about maintaining a safe distance from showing too much concern over what happens to Jews because, as we know, the BBC is deathly (no pun intended) afraid of provoking claims of pro-Jewish/Zionist bias.

  2. It's one thing to explain that Islam forbids images of the Prophet...quite another to explain that the Koran (as all these intelligent BBC editors will know) is rabidly anti-semitic (or if you prefer, anti-Judaic). I think that might explain, in part at least, the reluctance of the BBC to focus on the Jewish victims.
    Also it might lead on to a discussion of the irony of the Palestinian President - who wrote a thesis denying the reality of the WW2 Holocaust - taking part in a march in remembrance of Jews.


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