BBC payout for upset to ‘anti-war’ Muslims

The BBC has apologised and agreed to pay £30,000 to a Muslim group because a panellist on Question Time accused it of supporting attacks on the British armed forces.

The BBC has offered the hefty payout despite the Government’s recent refusal to apologise for expressing similar sentiments about the same group, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

The row centres around comments made by former Daily Telegraph editor, Charles Moore, on an edition of the BBC’s popular debate show broadcast in March.

He was asked about Muslims protesting in Luton against a parade of British troops returning from a tour of Iraq.

Mr Moore said: “I’ve gone to [the Muslim Council of Britain] many times, and said will you condemn the killing and kidnapping of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they won’t.

“Because these wars are in Muslim countries, they will not do this. They do one thing that is perfectly understandable – they are opposed to the war. That is perfectly legitimate.

“But there is a bigger step that they take, they say it is actually a good thing, even an Islamic thing, to kill or kidnap British soldiers.”

The Government recently refused to apologise for similar sentiments expressed in a letter to a newspaper by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears.

Miss Blears had raised concerns that the MCB’s Deputy Secretary General, Dr Daud Abdullah, had signed a document justifying attacks on the Royal Navy.

She refused to pay the £75,000 demanded by a solicitor’s letter from Dr Abdullah and, according to reports, no further correspondence has been received.

Referring to Mr Moore’s comments, the MCB’s Secretary General, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, said: “These kinds of statements are very damaging, and we received many complaints from our Muslim supporters who said they were extremely offended by the comments.”

The Corporation said: “Question Time always has lively and wide-ranging debate. On occasion this results in unfairness to individuals who aren’t there to put their point of view and this is one of those occasions.”

Earlier this year a Danish cartoonist, responsible for one of the caricatures of Mohammed which sparked worldwide anger from Muslims in 2005, accused the BBC of appeasing radical Islam.

Kurt Westergaard said the BBC would not air a recent interview with him because it is terrified of upsetting extremist Muslims.

He said: “I am disappointed on behalf of the freedom of speech. Every time you are afraid I think you make a step backwards. That is depressing me.”

Last month the BBC appointed a Muslim, Aaqil Ahmed, as its head of religious broadcasting.

Mr Ahmed, formerly head of religious programming at Channel 4, has been accused of dumbing down religious TV programmes and displaying a pro-Islam bias.

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