Sunday 23 January 2022

Talking to people

This morning's Sunday programme on Radio 4 returned to the subject of the antisemitic attack on a synagogue in Texas. 

As that attack was perpetrated by a Muslim man from Blackburn, the BBC attempted some bridge-building between the Jewish and Muslim communities there: 
Edward Stourton: We asked two people from Lancashire's Jewish and Muslim communities to reflect on what happened. Saima Afza is a Muslim from Blackburn. She's a former local councillor and a former Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire. Jeremy Dable is Jewish and lives in Preston. He used to be a member of the town's interfaith forum. 
Though doubtless well-meaning, it struck me as a rather pointless exercise. 

It involved the wrong people. 

Saima is a former Labour councillor who fell out with some male Muslims in her party because they didn't like her progressive views on homophobia, racism and sexism. Jeremy ran as a Liberal Democrat in several council elections, and led an interfaith forum, campaigned against the far-right and was involved with a refugee support group. 

[I had to Google around to find most of this out. Sunday told us only what I quoted Big Ed saying above].

Saima and Jeremy are nice, BBC-friendly people - as liberal a Muslim as you can get, and a liberal Jew. They could even be on Thought For The Day

These aren't the people from either community who need bridges building between them. Particularly as Jeremy ran an interfaith forum, reaching out to each other was just the kind of thing they'd naturally do anyhow. 

This is typical BBC, talking to 'people like them', people who the BBC can relate to, & thinking that they are in some way representative of the Jewish and Muslim communities in Blackburn.

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