Saturday 10 March 2018

Sir John Sulston and the BBC Hijab Project

C. elegans

It was typical of the BBC's flagship news bulletins on BBC One (News at Six and News at Ten) that they each devoted just 14 seconds to the death of Sir John Sulston, the scientist who led the human genome breakthrough:
Sir John Sulston, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on the Human Genome Project, has died. Sir John's work in decoding the sequence of human DNA, the building blocks of life, saw him awarded the prize back in 2002.
Bizarrely the BBC even managed to get this wrong, twice in the space of two short sentences! 

Sir John won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for work on 'genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death' through his study of a particular species of worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) - work which led to innovations in cancer research - and not for "his work on the Human Genome Project".  

Very poor journalism.

The death of Sir John Sulston (real news) got relegated to a mere quarter-of-a-minute footnote on both the News at Six and News at Ten in order to make way for the 'news' that a modelling agency has just signed its first British catwalk model who wears a hijab - an item which took up nearly four minutes of both prime time BBC One bulletins. 

Nomia Iqbal

Here's a transcript. Note the very heavy imbalance in favour of those who take a positive view of the hijab:
Nomia Iqbal, BBCThe spotlight is on the hijab. Many Muslim women choose to wear it proudly. For some, it's an act of modesty. For others, in countries like Iran, forced to wear it, it's a symbol to remove in protest. It may divide opinion, but the hijab is going high fashion. 20-year-old model, Shahira Yusuf, has been signed up by Storm, the agency that found supermodel, Kate Moss. Shahira is one of the first British models with a hijab taking to the catwalk. 
Shahira Yusuf, modelYeah, definitely don't want to be considered a token girl. I don't want these models like ethnic models or models from different religious backgrounds to just pave the way, I want the way to stay there, become the norm within society. Because it is the norm outside of the modelling sphere. 
Shahira is becoming the face of Modest Fashion. At the show in London, Muslim designers have come from all over the world to promote their clothes. The market for Modest Fashion is on course to be worth billions. I grew up in a Muslim family and none of the the women in my family wore the hijab. None of my Muslim friends wore it either. But now, more and more young women are wearing it. 
Shahira YusufThe reason why I wear it is to number one, cover my hair. And number two, to be honest, I actually enjoy wearing the hijab, I enjoy covering my hair, I enjoy the hijabs I have today. I feel like it makes a statement. It's part of who I am, it's my crown.  
Unnamed womanThe hijab to me is empowerment and it's feminism and it's taking control and ownership of what I choose to show to the world. 
Being online has given some women a powerful platform. Social media star, Mariah Idrissi, has a huge following on Instagram. 
Mariah Idrissi, online personalityThe hijab is a part of me, it's part of my career and its representation. You know, we shouldn't be ashamed or shy to represent who we are. 
Nomia IqbalIf you are a model wearing a hijab, and you're on Instagram and having thousands of people following you, aren't you doing the opposite of what the hijab is supposed to be about?  
Mariah IdrissiThe mainstream media, western media isn't representing Muslims on TV, in fashion, anywhere. The only time we are represented is for something bad. I just saw this as, you know I'm going on the news and I'm talking about something that's not about terrorism, not about women being oppressed, I'm talking about fashion. 
Some campaigners for Muslim women's' rights think the hijab's popularity is a political statement. They feel uneasy about its use as an expression of identity. 
Ahlam Akbar, Basira Women's Rights Group: Modest does not mean you need to wear the hijab. Modesty goes beyond that in your behaviour and your way of dressing. I don't need to prove to anybody what I am, but in the hijab, you are singling yourself and proving something unnecessary, especially in the Western world. 
The hijab means different things to different people. Shahira believes you can wear it and be a successful model. Her dream? The cover of British Vogue, wearing her hijab. Nomia Iqbal, BBC News. 


  1. Hijab wearing is part of Sharia law, whether it happens in the UK or Saudi Arabia or Iran and this was a classic example of lengthy Sharia promotion inserted into the news. The fact that the reporter indulged in the classic BBC pasttime of faux balance does not detract from that. The overall effect is to normalise, in fact glamourise, the Hijab.

    I laughed out loud when I heard the model say:

    "The mainstream media, western media isn't representing Muslims on TV, in fashion, anywhere. The only time we are represented is for something bad."

    If only that were the case, but no - I have read/seen/heard many BBC items and other MSM material promoting Hijab wearing.

    The Hijab is part of Sharia. If a woman "chooses" as a matter of personal choice to wear such a garment, it's simply a headscarf - very similar to the sort that used to be popular among French women of a certain age - and is no more deserving of comment than if we were to look at how many women wear bobble hats in Britain.

    But no, this is all about normalising Sharia, boiling the frog slowly. I think it means we are going to see a lot more Sharia-aproved Hijabs coming our way on the BBC.

    1. Thinking some more about this, this sort of report is definitely a form of subterfuge.

      In order to normalise Hijab wearing, so as not to frighten the general population when they start seeing it appearing ever more frequently on their screens, they have to suggest it is a compatible part of Western culture. That is why it is so vital for them to confuse categories by suggesting the Hijab is a fashion item (personal choice) as opposed to a legal requirement (Sharia law). It is of course the latter, albeit that law is enforced in different ways and in differing degrees whether you are in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, or the UK. And of course that is the one thing the BBC will not admit.

      Looking at the transcript again, it's noticeable how the reporter avoids any suggestion that wearing such a garment can be anything to do with a legal system called Sharia. There is a reference to it being a requirement in Iran. But nowhere is it explained that just about every Imam on the planet will tell you that a head covering of some sort for women in public is a requirement of Sharia law.


    I thought the above seemed apt.

    1. The BBC are always quick to apologise and amend when complaints come from that quarter.

  3. Is this the one someone on BBBC noted the (female) megabucker got a bit flustered when a scientist guest reckoned money was not everything if you had a great job you loved?


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