Camera Arabic prompts corrections to BBC Arabic coverage of murders

A post by CAMERA Arabic.

(All translations, emphases and in-bracket remarks are by CAMERA Arabic unless otherwise specified)

Sarit Ahmad Shaqur was an 18-year-old Druze woman from northern Israel whose murder on the afternoon of June 9th came after years of her brothers threatening her life because she was gay.

Several hours later, when the background to the murder had already been reported by various Israeli media outlets, BBC Arabic’s “producer in Israel and the West Bank” Michael Shuval tweeted the following from his personal twitter account:

Shuval made a general reference to “a wave of violence against the [LGBTQ] community” in order to promote his coverage of the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv pride marches but his pre-recorded report – and his Tweet – did not mention Sarit Ahmad Shaqur at all. 

The next day (June 10th), BBC Arabic’s live updates webpage added the following background to a 10:30 AM bulletin about former police chiefs protesting against the record-breaking crime rates amongst Israel’s Arab and Arabic-speaking citizens:

“Among the issues that raised concerns recently is the sharp increase in the rate of criminal killings in Israel’s Palestinian [i.e., Arab and Arabic-speaking] society – 100 people were killed since the beginning of the year. The latest of which was the horrifying criminal killing in Yaffa an-Naseriyyeh which was described as a ‘massacre,’ causing the death of 5 young men.”

In fact, Sarit Ahmad Shaqur’s murder occurred after that incident: she was the 99th victim of a criminal killing since the beginning of 2023 (the 100th was Bedouin ‘Atiya Abu Sabila, who was stabbed to death the following morning by foreign workers after he allegedly attempted to steal an agricultural vehicle from a farm).

BBC Arabic thus failed to introduce the young woman’s story into its news cycle twice in less than 24 hours – once when it was relevant as an LGBTQ story and a second time when it was relevant as a crime-related story.

Calling out BBC Arabic on this matter on the morning of June 12th, CAMERA UK pointed out the outlet’s history of normalising homophobia and instrumentalising LGBTQ stories from Israel and the Palestinian Authority:

Six days after the murder of Sarit Ahmad Shaqur, on the afternoon of June 15th, BBC Arabic finally allocated some airtime to that story in a “BBC Trending” item covering social media comments relating to her murder. However in that item she – a member of Israel’s Arabic-speaking Druze minority – was misrepresented as “a Palestinian”.

Following a complaint from CAMERA Arabic, the video and the webpage were edited last week to note that Ahamd Shaqur was Druze rather than Palestinian. Additionally, the June 10th reference to the Yaffa an-Naseriyyeh massacre was also corrected in order to clarify it was not “the latest” at the time of publication.

Notably, at the beginning of April BBC Arabic corrected two similar references, also in response to CAMERA Arabic complaints. One was to an Arab citizen of Israel as “a Palestinian” from “the 1948 territories [i.e., Israel’s internationally recognized territory]” (before/after) while the other was to all of Israel’s Arab citizens as “Palestinians of 1948” (before/after).

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