Friday 20 March 2015

The BBC and half the story

The headline on the BBC News website is one of those BBC headlines that can, if you come at it unprepared, read like a cryptic crossword clue:
Soldier beheading plan teen jailed 
The Sky News headline, in contrast, makes sense straight away:
Teen Gets 22 Years For Plot To Behead Soldier
Sky publishes the shocking letter Brusthom Ziamini wrote declaring his intention to behead a British soldier. In it, he quotes Surah 2:216: "Jihad holy fighting in Allah's cause is ordained for you Muslims though you dislike it and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you..."; he talks of ISIB, "Islamic State of Ireland and Britain"; he writes, "let's kill them, slaughter them and implement Sharia in our lands and kill every gay, every Shia..."; he advises his parents not to mix with Christians, Jews and non-believers...

Sky also quotes his statements to al-Muhajiroun about buying a black flag "to rock it everywhere I go in the Kaffir's face"; how he posted comments on Facebook saying he was "willing to die in the cause of Allah" and that "Sharia law on its way on our streets. We will implement it, it's part of our religion." 

Sky also reports him as saying that "he first became interested in Islam at the age of 15 through rap music and decided to convert again in the months before his arrests".

The BBC article is characteristically much less informative. 

The letter is missing, as are most of the quotes revealing the depth of his religious motivation and its sheer viciousness. There's no mention of the surah; no mention of his hatred for specific groups (gays, Christians, Jews, Shia Muslims); no mention of 'Islamic State of Ireland and Britain'; no rocking of the black flag "in the Kaffir's face; and no mention that his 'support for Sharia law' is for Sharia law on Britain's streets.  

Here's a flavour of the BBC's report: 
Ziamani was born in London to Congolese parents and went to school in Peckham. His mother worked as a nursery nurse and his father was a psychiatric nurse. 
The defendant told the court that his parents, who are Jehovah's Witnesses, had found out he was a Muslim only when they had seen pictures of friends in Islamic clothes on his mobile phone.
During the trial, jurors heard how Ziamani had fallen in with members of the extremist organisation al-Muhajiroun, after he was "kicked out" of his home after converting to Islam.
Police say the group played a "major role in influencing and shaping his radical views" and he attended their demonstrations.
The jury heard Mr Ziamani also put posts on Facebook supporting Sharia law and stating he was "willing to die in the cause of Allah".
Poor lad: his parents chucked him out and he fell in with a bad crowd. A classic hard-luck story - except for the bit about him wanting to behead British soldiers. 


  1. The convolutions BBC subs go through to avoid connecting dots in headlines would be funny if not clearly going to a serious problem on what is handed down from above.

    To a long line of impersonal vehicles and buildings that appear to cause mutilation or death all on their own, we now have this.

    Sky describes it; the BBC does all in its power not to. And looks ever more ridiculous in the attempt.

    1. I wish I'd properly got to grip with absolutely nailing this here.

      We've spotted plenty of examples of this at 'Is' - and Alan and B-BBC have spotted lots of other examples too - but I really, really like to pin things down over time, cross ts and dot is, provide exhibits A-Z ,etc..

      It's just managing to be on top of the BBC website's voluminous output - and all the news - though.

      It would be wonderful to be able to systematically track what the BBC does, in contrast to other media organisations (like Sky) and prove, one way or the other, a systematic bias.

      That would mean spotting every such story - and there are so many of them at the moment.

      It's hard to keep an all-seeing eye on a massive Kraken-like media beast like the BBC though. (Do Krakens have tentacles? I can't remember, but the BBC has more tentacles than a North Korean mass rally of 'Octopuses for Kim'.)

    2. One does one's best, and that is really all that can be expected, and serve.

      Amazingly, given the resources mere bloggers have, vs. those ranged against them, (especially BBC resorts to secrecy when detail is needed, and they are the ones guarding it... I have an FOI in progress whose outcome is forgone, but at least the BBC's inevitable reaction is very public, and that is an Achilles Heel of exposure they do not like one little bit), the thousand cuts are now starting to have an impact.

      People are seeing the bias, seeing the exposures of it, and noting the BBC's inability to answer... in fact most times refusing to do so.

      Claiming the Fifth is a precious right of the individual. Supposedly open and transparent media behemoths with pretensions of trust... I don't think so.

    3. ps: I think Krakens originally had tentacles (lots of big squid dragging ships down), but CGI-blockbusters moved them more to Godzilla status. Maybe Hydra would serve the analogy better, especially give obliterating one BBC line of argument, or biased outlet, simply sees three more spring up elsewhere.

  2. If I was writing the headline I would make it "Teen Jihadist Gets 22 Years for Beheading Plot". That's clear enough.

    I actually feel more sorry for him than a lot of others. He was brought up by religious nutjobs, and so would not have been given any equipment for rationally assessing the world. But on the other hand a message does need to be sent and 22 years sends a message.

    1. I suppose a lifetime of standing outside subway entrances passing out leaflets can drive one to madness, but to jihad?

  3. The BBC is implying blame on the parents. They frame it as an innocent lamb was radicalized only after being kicked out of his home for converting to Islam. Meaning his initial move to conversion wasn't informed by the radicals at all, and he was actually going to be just like one of the kids on Citizen Kahn, if only those vicious, Islmaophobic religious fundamentalists had shown him love instead of hate. It doesn't work like that in the real world. Nobody converts for normal, peaceful spiritual reasons and then joins the violent extremists within weeks, and it's dishonest for the BBC to leave out the kid's actual path to extremism.

    1. Exactly, it's not a credible story they're trying to tell here. It's literally unbelievable.

      The parents being Jehovah's Witnesses probably made it a lot easier for them. BBC reporters don't fear smearing that kind of believer. They may ring doorbells but they don't detonate themselves when you answer.


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