BBC Responds to Criticism of Panorama Documentary

8 May 2013

 

The Leyton Islamic Sharia Council, the institution which was the subject of a recent BBC Panorama documentary on sharia councils in Britain, has criticized the BBC for its undercover reporting and for editing the footage out of context.

 

The documentary features an undercover BBC reporter posing as a woman complaining of domestic abuse, and shows members of the Islamic Sharia Council staff urging her to go to the police only as a last resort. The documentary alleges that some women who turn to these sharia courts are not aware that their rulings on such matters as child custody disputes are not legally binding. The Islamic Sharia Council has challenged the impartiality of the BBC investigation, asserting that the Panorma crew had a “pre-determined agenda and stereotype of how shariah councils operate.”

 

For its part, the BBC has rejected accusations of impropriety, saying in a statement to the Guardian, “Panorama fully stands behind its investigations into the workings of some of Britain’s Sharia Councils.” The documentary, entitled: “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils” has garnered the attention of many British politicians and was heavily referenced in a recent parliamentary debate on the role of sharia courts in the United Kingdom.

 

The UK Government Comes Under Heavy Criticism for its Failure to Deport Muslim Cleric Abu Qatada

19 April 2012

 

A Muslim cleric, Abu Qatada, who is accused of having links to al-Qaida has caused a stir in UK politics. Successive UK governments have become entangled in a long legal battle to deport the “extremist Islamist cleric” to Jordan; however they failed thanks to Jordan’s poor human rights record. It was the ECtHR that had been stopping the UK government from deporting Abu Qatada, hence along with a few other similar high profile cases, the case prompted British politicians to question Britain’s commitment to the ECHR as the final decision maker on domestic issues. The debate went so far as to call the UK government to withdraw from the ECHR and stipulate sterner laws to crack down on “Islamic extremism”.

Last week the UK government got very close to scoring a significant victory when they managed to get Abu Qatada rearrested by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. The court that deals with national security deportations revoked Abu Qatada’s bail, which gave Home Secretary Theresa May an opportunity to swiftly deport him. While the Home Office was gearing up to deport the cleric it became apparent that Abu Qatada’s lawyers had appealed to the ECtHR before the deadline which resulted in further delays in the cleric’s deportation process and a major embarrassment for the UK government as they failed yet again to deport the “radical Islamist”.

Government minister under fire for walking out of segregated Muslim wedding

A government minister was accused today of bad manners and political expediency for walking out of a Muslim wedding in London after being told he could not sit with his wife.

Jim Fitzpatrick, the minister for food, farming and environment, left a constituent’s wedding at the London Muslim Centre, next door to and run by the East London mosque in Whitechapel, after being told that male and female guests were to be segregated.

Fitzpatrick said it was “strange” he could not sit with his GP wife Sheila at the ceremony on Sunday. “We’ve been attending [Muslim] weddings together for years but only recently has this strict line been taken. We left so as not to cause offence,” he said. But the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) accused the minister of turning a private matter for the families concerned into a political issue.

Blair Promises to Improve Teaching of Islamic Studies

By Stephen Bates and James Meikle — PM says politicians should listen to moderate voices — Report calls for more UK-trained Muslim clerics Tony Blair yesterday pledged to spend _1m improving the teaching of Islamic studies at universities, as Downing Street said more imams should be trained in Britain to reduce reliance on foreign-trained clerics. In a speech to a conference of moderate Muslims in London, the prime minister accepted that British politicians should listen more carefully to the views of “the calm voice of moderation and reason” within the community. He insisted that his government’s foreign interventions had not been based on religion. Mr Blair said: “The voices of extremism are no more representative of Islam than the use in times gone by of torture to force conversion to Christianity represented the teachings of Christ.” Among those invited by the Cambridge inter-faith programme were the grand muftis of Egypt and Bosnia, but not representatives of more extreme or politicised lobbying groups. The guest list was criticised by the radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, and also by the Labour peer Lord Ahmed, who told the BBC: “The conference is fronted by Cambridge University but organised by Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the communities department, who have deliberately chosen to exclude those Muslims who disagree with Government policy … It’s a colonial style of governing.”

Blair in moderate Muslims appeal

Tony Blair says he wants the “voice of moderation” among Muslims to be heard, as $1m funding was announced to boost Islamic studies at UK universities. Ministers hope the money, announced as a report criticised teaching quality, will help train more imams in the UK. At a conference on Islam, Mr Blair also called for closer links between Islamic schools and mainstream state schools. Critics said the London conference had excluded Muslim groups opposed to government policies. In a speech at the conference, hosted by Cambridge University, Mr Blair said British politicians must listen harder to the “calm voice of moderation and reason” of the majority of the country’s Muslims.