Tuesday 22 November 2016

Islamic extremism

H/T commenter Sisyphus. 

I must admit that when I stumbled across the BBC’s An Extremist in the FamilyI was immediately struck by the overtly sympathetic narrative by the BBC’s Dominic Casciani. The production was  disconcertingly lavish and seductive.
Nicola Benyahia’s ‘extremist’ son had been killed in Syria, having run off without any warning, to fight for Islamic State.

Casciani portrayed Nicola Benyahia as an innocent, moderate - liberal even -  Muslim woman who was completely baffled by her son’s sudden radicalisation. For some reason that didn’t ring true, and it turns out that the reason was a very good one; she was no such thing. 

Which brings me to the second BBC film mentioned. "The Hunt for Classroom Extremists". It was shown yesterday on BBC Midlands, and will be on again on the BBC News Channel on Saturday 26th at 00:30 and 14:30. It’s a documentary about the so-called Trojan Horse plot, and it takes even-handedness to the extreme; nary a value judgment in sight.

Even the blurb contains a couple of slightly alarming signals, which could be so subliminal as to be imaginary. But don’t forget, just because one is paranoid it doesn’t mean they ain’t out to get you.
“Documentary that examines the truth behind an alleged plot by 'hardline' Muslims to seize control of British schools. With interviews from those at the centre of the story, the programme asks what really happened and whether the authorities got it right.”
I won’t spell it out. On the whole, if you are with me and you’re alarmed at the prospect of an Islamised Britain, you’ll come away from the programme feeling uneasy. If you’re against me, and you accept Islam as part of life’s rich pattern and view it as benign, peaceful and endearing, you might feel a little less uneasy after seeing it than I do. 
I’m not sure if the BBC’s indulgent attitude towards people who hold views so antithetical to theirs is because they’re  afraid of causing offence and starting a riot, a breach of the peace, and/ or all- out civil war, but whatever it is, it’s not going to be helpful in the long run.

Cue the people who say “You don’t want impartiality, you want your own bias.” and I have to admit they’re onto something. It’s just that my bias is rational and theirs ain’t. 

Oh, and by the way Nicola Benyahia happened to be one of the school staff sacked following the Trojan Horse enquiry. It’s a bit like that poor chap whose daughter ran away to be a jihadi bride.  Not so innocent, with or without the teddy bear . 

Will the BBC ever learn?

Well, to counterbalance this, there was an excellent programme on radio 4 today. If you didn’t hear it, catch up here. "A Freedom Too Far"

Melanie Phillips addressed one particular problem that the Trojan Horse film touched on by implication, the establishment’s desperate imposition of a false concept, which is that there’s a distinct difference between violent extremism and plain old extremism. This enables them to insist that terrorism is nothing to do with Islam.  

The Trojan Horse film did exactly this by showing footage of terrorist atrocities in the opening moments, when the issue they were supposed to be addressing was entryism, not terrorism. In this context terrorism was almost a red-herring.

Melanie Phillips understands this, but sceptics perceive her objectivity to be compromised by her pro-Israel activism and criticism of Islamism.  This no-win scenario itself shows what an uphill struggle we face.


  1. I found A Freedom Too Far quite thought provoking. As much as I sympathise with Melanie Philips I couldn’t help thinking the real problem of subversion that she so succinctly identified is the failure of the liberal establishment to recognise it, rather than whether or not it should be outlawed. But it was a good programme. I can’t imagine how it slipped through the BBC net.

    I don’t always agree with Melanie Philips, she can be a bit of a prude at times, but as far as the gradual erosion of Western values by kowtowing to Islam she is absolutely right. Unfortunately her critics will discount her views as a supporter of Israel, and even worse a Daily Mail journalist!

    1. Is that what she really said? I have two criticisms of Melanie Phillips:

      1. She avoids grasping the nettle that says mainstream Islam as an ideology (as taught by the four main schools of Sunni Islam and by the Ayatollahs of Shia) is predicated on extreme violence against recalcitrant unbelievers and nominal believers who want to leave the religion or otherwise not follow all its strictures. Instead she talks about Islamism or radical Islam.

      2. She doesn't see that by arguing against free speech for Islamists, she is inviting the Left-Liberal PC elite to eliminate free speech in its entirety. It is vital that we retain free speech - without it there can be no functioning democracy. What we have to do however is distinguish between free speech (e.g. saying IS have got it right, or arguing that Sharia would be good for the UK) and conspiracy (violent or peaceful) to introduce Sharia into the UK (the latter should be a criminal offence). Also, in allowing free speech that must include the freedom to argue against Islam, and the requirement that public broadcasters allow the arguments to be put. I would go further and argue that a critical review of Islam and Sharia law should be a compulsory part of the national curriculum.

    2. I completely agree with you, particularly about the importance of free speech. Melanie Philips is indeed wrong on that point. I don’t quite know how we get back to a position where education and openness could be seen as a solution. I fear that there are too many agendas within the BBC, and the “progressive” establishment that drive self-censorship on the subject of Islam. One might add to that list plain simple cowardice. There is certainly less free speech now than there was fifteen years ago.

  2. Sue and Craig. I'd be interested to see you both write a summing up article about the BBC bias from when you first started this blog to now - my perception is that the bias has got far worse but I'd eagerly read your take on things.

    1. I'd second that. Would be interesting to have their views. Has bias increased? Or have events (Islamic terrorism, the rise of UKIP, the Merkel Migration, Brexit, Trump) brought the bias into sharp relief?

      I'd say bias has increased, to such an extent that the dead hand of political correctness is now laying waste to BBC comedy. I used to love The League of Gentlemen for its absurdist view of life. Little Britain made me laugh quite a bit. Could either be made now? Neither was right wing in its inspiration. But everything has to somehow fit the PC straitjacket. So I doubt it.

    2. I've been considering the comedy point you made for a couple of years. The best of the US comedians could simply not appear on the BBC as it is today - Louis CK, Bill Burr, Daniel Tosh..... even some black stand-ups. It's a massive shame because good comedy breaks down stereotypes (Bill Burr's flaky skin bit comes to mind).
      So we end up with Michael Mcintyre and his 'life observations' and an Australian wearing loaves of bread on his feet and dangling a false appendage into the audience to much hilarity. It feels a lot like the 70's.

    3. On the other hand, the late 60s & the 70s gave us Spike Milligan's 'Q' series which paved the way for Monty Python. Plenty of Milligan's sketches on You Tube - anything that the BBC doesn't like...

    4. I'd love to see Milligan's agent trying to sell Q now..... to anyone, frankly.
      Maybe that's the issue, the pre-chewing of things rules out the possibility of sparks of genius.
      Frank Zappa had it right....


  3. Sue, in response to your "I’m not sure if the BBC’s indulgent attitude towards people who hold views so antithetical to theirs is because they’re afraid of causing offence and starting a riot, a breach of the peace,..".

    I've wondered about this too. It maybe that there are those in the BBC who hold this view (secretly, because I've never heard it stated) and it maybe that there are those who have been taken in by the idea that "Islamophobia" is akin to racism (it isn't!).

    But my considered reflection is that there must be, absolutely must be, senior figures in the BBC who want to actively promote Islam. It's the only explanation for the consistent avoiding and hiding of negative comment or examination of Islam, it's precepts and practices.

    The Beeb is always happy to have reports on "hate preachers" rom the USA, but never manages to look inside the Mosques here.

  4. Yes, so many news items have been 'pulled' or suppressed that I fear it must be coming from on high.
    It is very revealing to watch the 1pm news and then see what has been edited or expunged by 6pm.


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