BBC Arabic avoids correcting biased terminology

Following communication with the BBC and based on material flagged up and translated by CAMERA Arabic, on May 4th the Jewish Chronicle prompted BBC Arabic to take action on several news items published between April 18th and April 22nd.

All the items – three video segments and one webpage – referred to Jews visiting Temple Mount during Passover as “settlers” who “intruded” (Arabic: Iqtahamu, can also be translated as “stormed”) into “al-Aqsa Mosque” (in one case: “al-Aqsa courtyard”). Two of the items did so even when they paraphrased Israeli sources.

The BBC made two of their YouTube videos private and consequently unavailable to the general public. BBC Arabic Jerusalem correspondent Muhannad Tutunji was instructed to remove a third video of him reporting for a BBC Arabic live broadcast which appeared on his own personal Facebook account.

The action taken regarding the webpage was less straightforward. Instead of following the model of other outlets and simply correcting the inaccurate terminology, BBC Arabic editors opted to delete all evidence that Jewish visitors were ever present on Temple Mount, thus changing the news item retroactively. Below is a detailed account of the edited parts (original version is available here, deleted text in red, amendments in green):


“Israeli settlers police forces intruded on the morning of April 21 the courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque in the city of Jerusalem, amidst a close guard by the Israeli police with clashes between police and worshippers having occurred.
The intrusion lasted about three and a half hours, punctuated by clashes between worshippers and the Israeli police, which spread in the al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards, prior to the police and the settlers departing al-Aqsa.
The Islamic Waqf Department in the city of Jerusalem has said that the number of settlers who intruded into the Mosque has reached 762 settlers.

Shortly before the settlers intruded, the police forced the worshippers to evacuate the Mosque’s courtyards, which caused the clashes to erupt.
“Palestinian media outlets have reported that the occupation Israeli forces shot gas grenades and rubber bullets to get the worshippers out of al-Qibli house of prayer [i.e. al-Aqsa Mosque, the southern building of the compound]”

Hundreds of settlers storm al-Aqsa Mosque on a daily basis since Sunday, in coincidence with the Jewish holiday of Passover, which began last Friday evening and ends on Thursday.
The intrusions were carried out by group, with each group including dozens of settlers, guarded by Israeli police officers, causing the occurrence of clashes with Palestinians who opposed this. Dozens of Palestinians and several Israelis got wounded during the clashes, and the Police arrested several Palestinians.
“Israeli Broadcast Corporation said that the police will stop Israeli intrusions beginning Friday, April 22 until Eid al-Fitr, to mark the last ten days of Ramadan.”

This ‘online correction’ from BBC Arabic presents an account of events detached from reality. Not only does the report now exclude the Jewish visitors to the site, it also obfuscates the fact that violent reactions to their presence were the reason for the clashes between Palestinian “worshippers” and the Israeli police.

With the Jewish civilians removed from the story, BBC Arabic’s version implies that the police spontaneously clashed with Palestinians throughout Passover and, more bizarrely, subsequently announced it would stop “intruding” the sanctuary. In fact it was visits by non-Muslims via Moors’ Gate that were suspended during the last ten days of Ramadan.

This edit indicates that BBC Arabic has not reached the appropriate conclusions. Indeed an item dating from Thursday, May 5th used the same method of reporting clashes between the Israeli police and Palestinians without mentioning that they occurred after the site was reopened to Jewish visitors.

Related Articles:

BBC ‘justifies violence’ by calling Israelis ‘settlers’ (Jewish Chronicle)

More from Hadar Sela
BBC News ignores Gaza maritime weapons smuggling as usual
BBC reporting on Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip has followed...
Read More
Join the Conversation


  1. says: Neil C

    My Egyptian father-in-law, once told me to ‘Never ever trust the words of an Arab’ and this is an example of why, these reporters are just racist bigots who have been fed myths and lies all their life and were ‘taught’ to hate Jews by a so called religious Islamic upbringing who now continue to poison their readers with yet more lies. Islam is not a religion it is a murderous cult #defundthebbc

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *