Sunday 29 January 2017

Echo chamber

This morning's Sunday began with an intra-BBC discussion of the Trump executive order between the BBC's new religious affairs correspondent Martin Bashir and the BBC's chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet.

Of course, they didn't give anything approaching a disinterested, hands-off, neutral, impartial take on the story. 

They both made their disapproval very plain indeed, and piled on argument after argument against the presidential move. 

Mr Bashir, in particular, appears not to have entirely broken free from his old 'MSNBC opinionated host' practices. ("Lyse, the seven nations chosen by Trump appear to be less than carefully selected"),

And I had to smile (grimly) at Lyse, without batting an eyelid, citing the internet to fuel damaging conspiracy theories about Mr Trump's motivations. 

Again, the whole thing is worth transcribing for posterity:

Martin Bashir: At a signing ceremony in the White House on Friday President Donald Trump's signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and blocking all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. Mr Trump said the ban was necessary to protect the United States from terrorists. Yesterday, civil rights organisations issued lawsuits to release several individuals being held at US airports and last night a federal judge issued an emergency ruling to prevent the deportation of any travellers from those seven Muslim-majority countries who'd already entered the United States. Around the world allies and critics have voiced concern about what the new American policy could mean. Mr Trump told reporters yesterday that the policy was "working out very nicely". Just before coming on air I asked the BBC's Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet what reaction there'd been from Islamic Nations.
Lyse Doucet: I'm in Saudi Arabia where that the leaders are the custodians of the holiest shrines - the two holy shrines in Islam - Mecca and Medina, and talking to people here some say, well, that the right of the United States but other are very, very critical. They say it's racist, it's illegal and it's a huge black mark on the United States. So, and I think, as more and more stories continue to come out of people stopped at the airport, people whose lives will be torn apart. The stories you're hearing now are heartbreaking. People have waited years and years for their green card or to be accepted as refugees now literally been turned back.
Martin Bashir: Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the executive order, and I'm quoting a statement, "a clear insult to the Islamic world and a great gift to extremists and their supporters."

Lyse Doucet: Many said that, those who study groups like this so called Islamic state and Al Qaeda, who have long seen their mission to make the West to turn against Islam, so that this would provide fodder for recruitment, it would give more fuel to the fire - and, literally, they are fires in the Middle East caused by the so-called Islamic State fighters and this proves their point. So it is a very, very dangerous, a very potent weapon, in the hands of a so-called Islamic state. And I think the distinction has to be that former president Clinton, former President Barack Obama, Western leaders, have talked about about the need to fight against those elements who used Islam, the religion of Islam, for violence, for political reasons, But it is not the same thing as condemning a whole religion on the basis of religion. But we've seen now, not just in the United States but across Europe as well, far-right leaders, populist leaders, using this as a political weapon to tarnish an entire religion because of actions carried out by those...and those who know the faith well say that it is a distortion of of the religion.
Martin Bashir: Lyse, the seven nations chosen by Trump appear to be less than carefully selected, given that many of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, not on the list, and Pakistan, which is known to have been the location for the training of hundreds of terrorists and also housed Bin Laden for ten years, also not on the list.
Lyse Doucet: And Afghanistan. I've been speaking to Afghans since this order was issued and they're surprised and relieved that they're not on the list, because some of the attacks that have been carried out in the United States have been carried out by people with links to Afghanistan - second generation immigrants to the country. And, of course, Pakistan - the tribal areas of Pakistan -  are said to be Al Qaeda Central. And I'm in Saudi Arabia. 15 of the 19 hijackers in 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, which had led the cynics to say - and you can find now on the internet the maps which show the countries which had been banned and the ones which haven't, and some other countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, are places where Donald Trump does business. I visit places like Syria and Iraq. We see what groups like so-called Islamic State has done. But the reaction is not to ban everyone on the basis of their religion, to condemn an entire religion, because the United States and other countries have to work with Muslim leaders worldwide to try to counter this extremist threat
Martin Bashir: Lyse Doucet.


  1. I am literally speechless...but I can still just about type. Lyse Doucet is in SAUDI ARABIA. The country which will not let a single Jew live there permanently! The country that won't let in Israelis!! The country that bans all manifestations of Christian worship!!! The country that executes apostates!!!!! The country that supplied half the 9-11 attackers and funded Al Queda!!!!!!!!

  2. Why isn't Doucet worried that we're not paying enough attention to the humanity of Trump?


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