Ofcom examines appearance of Islamic cleric Anjem Choudary in TV coverage of Lee Rigby murder

Ofcom has launched an investigation into whether appearances by the radical Islamic cleric Anjem Choudary on BBC, ITV and Channel 4 after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby were editorially justified. Mr Choudary was interviewed on the BBC’s Newsnight and Channel 4 News the day after Fusilier Rigby was killed on the streets of Woolwich on 22 May. He also featured on Daybreak on 24 May, refusing to condemn the attack. His comments during the appearances drew criticism from the Faith and Communities minister, Baroness Warsi, and Jim Murphy, the shadow Defence Secretary. Ofcom must decide whether Mr Choudary’s comments were justified by the context of the story. This falls under rule 2.3 in the Broadcasting Code, which states: “Broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.”

 

Tony Blair’s Muslim sister-in-law fears attacks

Cherie Blair’s half-sister, 45, said she felt like men want to hit her when they see her wearing her traditional Islamic dress and a hijab head-covering. Ms Booth told ITV’s Daybreak: “When I came to Islam two years ago and I first put on the scarf I was nervous about going on the Underground, I thought everyone is going to see me differently, and everyone was beautiful towards me. “I was invisible for a few weeks and then I noticed that British people were smiling, same as we always do, we’re really good at that, we’re really good at absorbing and accepting people. “But honestly, in the last two weeks I’ve been getting public transport and there are grown men looking like they want to hit Muslim women, and I’m a tall, white woman, I’m not easily threatened, but I have felt scared at times, so there is a change unfortunately.”

 

Ms Booth’s brother-in-law, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, previously said there is a ‘problem within Islam’ which allows the seeds of extremism to be sown in the wake of the killing. Asked if he was right, Ms Booth replied: ‘Absolutely not, and I think it’s very dangerous to take a summary of a religion from a man who’s overseen the invasion of several Muslim countries, and overseen a war where a million people whom are Muslim have been killed and millions displaced, so I wouldn’t take that as a kind of basis for any information on Islam.’

BBC boss says Islam should be treated more sensitively than Christianity

Islam should be treated more sensitively by the media than Christianity, according to the director general of the BBC. Mark Thompson claimed that because Muslims are a religious minority in Britain and also often from ethnic minorities, their faith should be given different coverage to that of more established groups. His comments come after the comedian Ben Elton accused the BBC of being scared of making jokes about Islam, while Hindus have claimed it favours Muslims over other religions. But Mr Thompson, speaking at the annual public theology lecture of the religion think-tank Theos, insisted the state broadcaster would show programmes that criticised Islam if they were of sufficient quality. The director general, whose corporation faced accusations of blasphemy from Christians after it allowed the transmission of the musical Jerry Springer -The Opera, also said his Christian beliefs guided his judgments and disclosed that he had never watched the Monty Python film Life of Brian which satirises the story of Jesus. In his speech last night, Mr Thompson claimed there are now more programmes about religion on BBC television and radio than there have been in recent decades, whereas coverage has declined on ITV. Martin Beckford reports.