Saturday 23 April 2016

John Humphrys: Was Mahomet inspired with a dove?

It must be one of those 'confirmation bias' things....

Some people are in an absolute frenzy about John Humphrys's interview with Sadiq Khan on Today this morning, and some people aren't. 

Some people are vociferously complaining about it (hurling around words like "offensive", "bigoted", "partisan", "objectionable", "unpleasant", "rude", "disgraceful", "disgusting", etc), while others are saying absolutely nothing about it. 

What happened was that John Humphrys gave Sadiq Khan a strong grilling. 

He pressed him on why he continued to share platforms with extremists after becoming a politician and whether he regrets doing so. He pressed him on his own Muslim faith and how that would effect his mayoralty. He pressed him on Sharia law and whether he'd close down Sharia courts. And then he pressed him over holes in his housing policy. 

70% of the interview was spent on his personal positions on Islam and extremism; 30% on housing. 

It was quite an interview, even though Sadiq Khan dodged his punches. When Sadiq said that London is such a great place because it doesn't just tolerate and respect religious differences it celebrates it, JH remarked 'But Islam doesn't necessarily, does it?'

Letters will be flooding into Feedback, and Twitter is already ablaze.

All the questions are listed below.

  • A lot of people would share David Cameron's thoughts on that, wouldn't they?
  • (interrupting) But the fact is you have shared platforms with people that many regard as very unsavoury indeed. You must regret that?
  • (interrupting) No, I'm talking about after you became a politician. I know you were a human rights lawyer, whatever. I'm talking about after you became a politician, you were still doing that.
  • But it's not just your Conservative opponents who've criticised that sort of thing, is it? That attitude? Yvette Cooper, as you will know, attacked Jeremy Corbyn, criticised Jeremy Corbyn when he became leader, during the leadership campaign. "I would not have taken those decisions, "she said, "to sit on platforms or meeting in the way that he did".
  • (interrupting) All right, we'll come to that in a minute...
  • All right, but do you regret any of those meetings that you attended where there were people there that you not regard as acceptable?
  • (interrupting) You don't regret anything you've done yourself in the past?
  • (interrupting) Yes, I know. I asked you whether you regretted anything you've done as a politician, any platforms you've shared and you think now, 'I wish I hadn't done that'.
  • (interrupting) But you don't regret anything?
  • How will your Muslim faith influence your time if you become Mayor? How will your Muslim faith inform your period as Mayor?
  • Well, but..but..Islam doesn't necessarily, does it ["tolerate. respect and celebrate difference"]? And if you are...Well, let me ask you how you would describe yourself on the Islamic continuum, if I may put it like that. Are you a very observant Muslim, if that's the right expression to use?
  • (interrupting) Would you shut down Sharia courts for instance, to the extent that they exist?
  • (interrupting) Oh indeed, but we also know what we mean [by 'Sharia'] and we also know that in some of these tribunals, where a woman can go along, she's divorced because her husband says she's divorced. You'd try and close them down, would you?
  • (interrupting) Right, to be quite clear, you would do your best to close them down where they exist?
  • (interrupting) Yep, heard that, heard that! [Sadiq's 'son of a bus driver' story]
  • All right, end of PPB. How...but, in practical terms, what would you do to tackle extremism that is not being done at the moment?
  • There is one thing that many, many people - young people in London - care about more than anything else...we heard a report from Sima Kotecha earlier in the programme...and that is the price of housing. Again, in practical terms, what can you do to bring down the price of houses for people who can't afford them?
  • (interrupting) So what are you going to do about it?
  • (interrupting) Another meeting!
  • (interrupting) And every politician I've talked to says since God was a boy has said exactly the same!
  • (interrupting) Didn't say you were.
  • (interrupting) You'd stop that?
  • (interrupting) So, hang on. How would you stop that happening? I'm a developer. I build homes...when you say 'public land'...for instance, Transport for London land that happened to be sold off to a would say that developer...Go on!
  • (interrupting) And you would allow developers to build those houses only if they sold them to local people?
  • (interrupting) That could be tiny! That could be...well, for instance, if we were looking at £1,800 a month then the rent would be £600 a month!
  • (interrupting) £600 a month rent!
  • (interrupting) What developer would build housing if he's only going to get £600 a month for renting it?
  • (interrupting) So how soon will there soon will there be new homes in London available to rent at £600 a month?
  • (interrupting) You can't stop it.
  • (interrupting) You'd order them to do that? You haven't got the power.
  • Final quick thought: If Donald Trump becomes president, does it worry you that you might not be allowed into the United States because you're a Muslim?


  1. As long as it's equal opportunity grilling that's fine by me, although, personally I prefer interviewers who let interviewees speak, at least for a reasonable length of time. It's the quality of the question that counts.

    1. I prefer the 'let's hear what they say' approach too. That's never really been John Humphrys's thing.

  2. Today will be getting a load of hate mail and angry phone calls from the MCB and various advocacy groups, for sure. Whether or not the complainers will be loading AK-47s as they write, I couldn't say.

    Most of what Humphrys asked related to Islam and the unsavory characters was legitimate, yet this will still be held up as an example of Complaints from Both Sides.

    I say most, because I don't think it was right for Humphrys to focus only on shutting Shariah courts down, rather than allowing or leading Khan to discuss reforming them. Humphrys wouldn't ask someone about shutting down Jewish community Bet Din courts, which have the same sort of authority and reason for existence as Sharia courts. Discuss the problems of Shariah courts as much as you want, but if those get shut down, Jewish ones will also for the same reasons. An unfortunate line for the BBC to take there. Did they think through the logical consequences first? Or will we get a future episode where they go after Bet Dins?

    That last question is a load of unmitigated, biased, delusional sh!te. They just can't help themselves sometimes. Trump endorsed Comrade Mayor, so the BBC and Khan can get bent.

    This is not a legitimate question, as Khan is a known public figure and would be visiting legally rather than immigrating as part of a large anonymous group. Yet my complaint will be valued the same as a complaint about Humphrys asking Khan about Islam not necessarily celebrating diversity.


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