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Muslim programme-maker to be head of BBC religion
Not unexpected but still disturbing.
From The Telegraph.
A controversial Muslim programme-maker has been appointed as the BBC's new head of religious broadcasting.
Aaqil Ahmed will move to the corporation from Channel Four, where he upset Roman Catholic priests by commissioning documentaries that appeared to contain a pro-Islam bias.
His appointment will also raise fears at the top levels of the Church of England, which has expressed its concerns over the BBC's treatment of religion and warned that it must not ignore its Christian audience.
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has met with Mark Thompson, the BBC's director-general in March to challenge him over the corporation's religious broadcasting.
Senior bishops have also written to Mr Thompson to question its commitment to Britain's Christian audience.
Leading church figures suspect that the BBC is giving preferential treatment to minority faiths, with a Muslim now in charge of its programming on television and a Sikh producing Songs of Praise, its flagship Christian show. That a Sikh is producing Songs of Praise does not disturb me so much. One of the best Songs of Praise I ever enjoyed came from a Synagogue and featured some outstanding singing by the Cantor. Like Jews, Sikhs worship God with music and the sound of singing and the worship of other religions is not anathema to them.
Christina Rees, a member of the Archbishops' Council, has warned: " The vast majority of the population identifies itself as Christian and as the established Church in England we would be negligent not to take an active concern in the changes happening with the BBC's religion and ethics department."
Rt Rev Nigel Mcculloch, Bishop of Manchester, said yesterday that Mr Ahmed's appointment came "at a time when the BBC's coverage of religion has caused some disquiet".
Mr Ahmed is understood to have impressed BBC executives by commissioning a series on Christianity that featured high-profile names, including Cherie Blair and Michael Portillo.
However, the series, Christianity, A History, was criticised by Church figures for trivialising the religion. Furthermore, Channel 4 was accused of being biased towards Islam and failing to show enough respect to Christianity under Mr Ahmed, who was head of religious broadcasting.
Last summer, the channel screened a week of special programmes on Islam including a feature-length documentary on the Qu'ran, and a series of interviews with Muslims around the world talking about their beliefs.
Yet the main Christian documentary broadcast for Easter that year, called The Secrets of the 12 Disciples, cast doubt on the validity of the Pope.
Mr Ahmed's appointment follows claims by Mr Thompson that Islam should be treated more sensitively by the media than Christianity.
Even the dozy Revd George Pitcher who blogs at the Telegraph has doubts about the man's ability.