Saturday 15 August 2015

Songs of Displeasure

So the answer to the question, 'Who exactly at the BBC decided to broadcast parts of Songs of Praise from the illegal migrant camp in Calais?, turns out to be the BBC's head of religion Aaqil Ahmed

He's written a blogpost defending his decision. In it, Mr Ahmed describes how he himself first thought up the idea and reveals that he himself also went to the camp on behalf of Songs of Praise.

His blogpost, however, appears to be proving almost as controversial as the original decision - at least if some of the this morning's newspaper headlines are anything to go by:

Here's the bit where Aaqil Ahmed compares the Calais migrants to the flight of Joseph, Mary and Jesus from King Herod:
In churches up and down the country the subject is an important one.  For centuries Christians have related to the vivid image of the Holy family becoming refugees themselves when Joseph, Mary and their baby son had to flee persecution from King Herod and escape to Egypt. The Gospels themselves are full of stories and teachings of Jesus to help those in need, to find the dispossessed and vulnerable and to love your neighbour as yourself, whether that’s close to home or in a global context. There is also another powerful concept in Christian thought that comes from the occasion when Jesus said to his followers that when two or three were gathered in his name, he would be among them. The knowledge that the migrants had built a makeshift Church is exactly the kind of action that Christian communities everywhere will relate to.
There will be two items on tomorrow's Songs of Praise about it, according to Mr Ahmed. The first will focus on the make-shift church, talking to a priest and one of his fellow Christian migrants. The second will involve interviews with Christian volunteers from the UK and France. 

The BBC head of religion insists none of this will be political:
The programme is looking at how people express their faith, it is not a political statement on the situation or a judgement on migration, and to suggest so is wrong. Songs of Praise is simply reflecting the conversations going on in many churches and Christian households around the country. 
The dialogue in that Church was one of faith - not politics; and that's why a show like Songs of Praise is still important.
Presumably, therefore, the initial rumours that Giles Fraser was scheduled to feature on the programme were untrue, given that Giles's presence (and likely statements) would automatically disprove Aaqil Ahmed's point. (Aaqil doesn't mention him in his post).

However, if the first item only shows a couple of benign Christians (in what most reports portray as a predominantly Muslim camp), perhaps telling their tales of suffering and the second items features nothing but Christian volunteers describing how right it is to help these people in need (i.e. with no counterbalancing Christian voices suggesting that tougher action is needed), then it's surely very hard not to see the programme as making a political intervention.


  1. Everything the BBC does is blatantly political and this is no exception.

    1. I tend to agree. Whether it's treating women's cricket on a par with men's, soap opera storylines, drama output or whatever - there is often a proselytising political message somewhere.

  2. Sadly, this illustrates how dangerous it is to have followers of Sharia in places of influence: whether it be heading up BBC departments, or in our highest courts, leading the Police Service or heading up Civil Service departments. Their decisions will always be made within the framework of enabling Sharia long term - whether or not they are consciously intending to do so.

    Ahmed's defence is sententious nonsense - patronising and fundamentally

    It is particularly dishonest in not acknowledging that to put up a Christian Church is a criminal offence in most Islamic countries.

    1. Mary and Joseph were not migrating but returning for a censuses in accordance with the law. Anyone who sees a similarity with the Calais migrants is a big liar. But, then lying is what the BBC do on a daily basis.

    2. This isn't the first time a Beeboid with twisted morals used Mary and Joseph as an analogy to push their agenda. Remember Aleem Maqbool and his biased retracing of their steps from Nazareth to Bethlehem?

      Of course, if Mary and Joseph were trying to get into Britain today, it would only be to flee anti-Semitism in France or whatever Muslim country. Bet that won't get mentioned.

      There's a great comment on Ahmed's blogpost from "ThePhysicalWorld":

      I'm sorry, but I really do not approve of Songs of Praise going to Calais. Firstly, as the BBC is the national TV channel, it gives them the impression that the UK welcomes illegal immigrants. Secondly, it legitimizes criminal activity ie. people illegally breaking into the UK, including those that threaten and use violence to do it.

      Ahmed is openly admitting to the first point. Whether or not one agrees with the message, it is a message. He is using the BBC and his interpretation of Christian thought to push an agenda, full stop, no question about it.

  3. Joseph's & Mary's first journey to Bethlehem was indeed for a census. They were not refugees or asylum seekers then; it was within their own country. Their flight to Egypt with their baby was indeed as refugees & asylum seekers.

    However, all those who have an ulterior motive or no ulterior motive for using their situation as an example conveniently or accidentally overlook the small fact of a prophecy many years before: "I ..//.. called my son out of Egypt". [Hosea Chapter 1 verse 11] This prophecy has resonances for God's people because both Joseph & Moses are seen by theologians as 'types of Christ' or, if you like, 'picture prophecies in action' pointing to how God would send someone who would save people, in this final instance from their sins, not just from famine or oppression.

    God used Herod's hostility & the need to escape as a means of underlining the status of His Son as Messiah.

    Those with ulterior motives also conveniently overlook that national borders were no obstacle to freedom of movement approximately 2020 years ago (+/- 2 years) and that Visas, Passports (as we know them) & Residency or Work Permits were relatively unknown for ordinary people.


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