Leading UK Muslim body accuses BBC of ‘failing to sufficiently report’ Conservative Party Islamophobia

Leading UK Muslim body accuses BBC of ‘failing to sufficiently report’ Conservative Party Islamophobia
3 min read
10 December, 2019
The Muslim Council of Britain has slammed the BBC for neglecting 'institutional and widespread' Islamophobia in the Conservative Party while platforming 'far-right' pundits who deny the existence of anti-Muslim hate.
The BBC has come under fire for its pre-election coverage [Getty]
The UK’s leading Muslim representative body has accused the national broadcaster of failing to report on the full extent of anti-Muslim hate in the Conservative Party in its election coverage.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) penned an open letter to the BBC Director General Tony Hall on Tuesday, in which it also slammed the broadcaster for giving a platform to “far-right” figures, amounting to “incitement” against the country’s Muslim population.

The letter emphasised the BBC’s duty to be impartial and consistent, requesting that “racism against Muslims be given equal importance to racism against others,” alluding to the  coverage of the anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party.

The group said its media monitoring arm has been tracking the “number, tone and prominence” of BBC pieces on the issue, concluding it has received “precious little attention” despite senior Conservative Party figures, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself, apologising over the affair.

Comment: There's no Islamophobia in the Tory party, because they don't believe it exists

The MCB Secretary General Harun Khan said in a statement on Tuesday: “The Conservative Party has an institutional, widespread problem with Islamophobia, which has been clearly documented both by the Muslim Council of Britain and other individuals, organisations and media outlets.”

“Not only has the BBC not covered the full extent of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party that many in society feel should be being discussed this election, it has given platform to individuals who have used far-right Islamophobic hate,” he added.

Khan singled out an occasion where commentator Melanie Phillips, who has previously called Islamophobia a “fiction”, was invited as a guest on the Politics Live programme on 5th December, just days after she said that deception is a mainstream Muslim belief in a column for The Times.

Phillips' appearance on the panel discussion attracted criticism from many, accusing the channel of "normalising" Islamophobia.

“License payers, who include millions of British Muslims, are essentially paying to facilitate the incitement of hatred against themselves,” Khan said.

In its 2018 report, Islamophobia watchdog Tell MAMA UK identified a siginificant spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the country in August after then-foreign secretary and current Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote a newspaper column referring to veiled Muslim women as “letterboxes” and “bank-robbers”. 

In the week following his article, anti-Muslim incidents increased by 375 percent.

The council has previously called out the Prime Minister and his party for failing to deal with Islamophobia among their ranks.

Its criticism prompted Johnson to apologise for “all the hurt and offence that has been caused" and promised an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party despite claims by some the inquiry has been watered down. 

The MCB has also published its own election policy manifesto, detailing how parties' policies affect Muslims across the UK. 

The report said British Muslims care about issues that are "no different to those facing fellow Britons", such as Brexit, the National Health Service and the state of the economy.

But "there are serious concerns of the resurgence of the far right, together with growing Islamophobia from the governing party to sections of the media, which have shaped social attitudes about Muslims".

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