“Significant strands of thought” at the BBC

As we have noted here before, Abdel Bari Atwan – the Gaza-born editor of the London-based Arabic language newspaper ‘Al Quds Al Arabi’- is a regular guest on several BBC programmes on both radio and television, despite his frequent voicing of often frankly offensive opinions. 

Readers will probably not be surprised to learn that Atwan is now promoting the notion that:

“… the French military intervention in Mali is designed not only to protect its own interests in the region but to benefit Israel.”

Atwan’s latest tinfoil hat moment is, however, unlikely to dissuade BBC producers from inviting him to contribute what passes as analysis.  Indeed the BBC sometimes appears to actively court bizarre opinions, as was the case in the February 4th edition of ‘Start the Week’ with Bridget Kendall which focused on “the roots and reach of Islamist terrorism from Afghanistan to Africa”.

Start the Week

In that programme (available as a podcast here) listeners were informed (at 13:57) by guest Christina Hellmich that the  Al Qaeda attacks on the US in 2001 were the “consequences” of the West’s actions “in Palestine” and elsewhere. Later (from around 22:20) guest Nadeem Aslam opined that the passengers and crew on the United Airlines flight 93 on September 11th 2001 shared the same motivations as Islamist suicide bombers. Neither of those remarks was adequately challenged by the presenter. 

The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on impartiality state that:

“We are committed to reflecting a wide range of opinion across our output as a whole and over an appropriate timeframe so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented.”

One cannot help but sometimes wonder whether the BBC’s idea of a “significant strand of thought” matches that of its audiences. 

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