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Melanie Phillips On The BBC's Treatment Of Geert Wilders

From The Spectator:

The world's most dangerous broadcaster

 
17th February 2011
 


I have only just caught up with the BBC1 documentary on the Dutch politician Geert Wilders that was transmitted on Tuesday evening. Did I say documentary? ‘Europe’s Most Dangerous Man' was a vicious hatchet job that was a disgrace to journalism. More than that, it could be argued that by presenting Wilders as a latter-day Nazi who was likely to foment war in Europe between Muslims and non-Muslims, it was in effect inciting violence or the murder of a politician who is already under armed guard 24/7.

There were several aspects of this programme that should have caused any responsible broadcaster to sling it straight into the trash. First and most fundamentally, it simply turned the people threatening the free world into victims and the politician who is trying to defend the free world against that threat into a fascist. Muslims were presented as universally peaceful people signed up to democracy and human rights; Wilders was the presented as the extremist threat to democracy and human rights. Yet as Wilders himself was quoted as saying – even while the script was telling us that these words were ‘extremist’ – he was defending freedom against the threat from Islamists to extinguish those freedoms.

Worse still, look at the two individuals the film-makers used to level the most inflammatory charges against Wilders – individuals who were described as democrats assigned up to human rights. The first, Ibrahim Mogra, is from the Muslim Council of Britain – described by the programme as ‘an organisation seeking to promote a distinct Muslim identity in tune with British cultural norms and values’.

Yet this is the organisation with which the British government has twice broken off relations on account of its extremism. The first occasion was when it refused to take part in Britain’s Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony. The second occasion was in response to the MCB’s deputy general secretary, Dr Daud Abdullah, signing the Istanbul Declaration, a public declaration of support for Hamas and call for violence against the British Royal Navy and Jewish communities.

The film made no mention of this whatever. Instead it used the MCB man to attack Wilders as a dangerous extremist.

The second of these ‘moderate’ individuals wheeled on to attack Wilders was Sheikh Khalid Yasin. The film described Sheikh Yasin as ‘an American Muslim teacher extremely popular among young European Muslims’ who ‘has embarked on a mission to de radicalise them.’ Yasin denounced Wilders for ‘fanning hatred’.

Yet in the Channel 4 Dispatches programme ‘Undercover Mosque’ transmitted two years ago, Yasin was recorded saying:

‘We Muslims have been ordered to do ‘brainwashing’ because the kuffaar [non-Muslims] ... they are doing ‘brain defiling’ ... You are watching the kaffir TVs, and your wife is watching right now, and your children are watching it right now, and they are being polluted, and they are being penetrated, and they are being infected, so that your children and you go out as Muslims and come back to the house as kaffirs...The whole delusion of the equality of women is a bunch of foolishness.  There’s no such thing.’

And Wilders is called ‘Europe’s most dangerous man’?

Worse, the film then adduced as the final proof of Wilders’s perfidy that he was a passionate defender of Israel. His crime, apparently, was to believe that Israel was ‘the last line of the defence of Europe’ – which indeed it is – and that to solve the Middle East impasse, Jordan should become Palestine -- which indeed it originally was.

Worse again, however, the film suggested that Wilders was an Israeli spy – and, in the words of Sheikh Yasin, that it was doing Israel’s dirty work for it:

‘I think that he [Wilders] has taken and embraced the idea of modern Zionism. And he is using the platform of modern Zionism to espouse the same concepts about Muslims in the world and the Koran, that the Jews cannot afford to say in Israel. But Mr Wilders can do them a favour. He can go outside of Israel with those same feelings and he can characterise the way that the Zionists characterise the Palestinians to legitimise their power. Mr Wilders can characterise Islam in the same way. This is what is taking place.’

So the film suggested, in effect, that Wilders was the front man for a kind of Nazi-Jewish conspiracy -- thus defaming both him and Israel in one go. Others smeared by association with him were the distinguished scholar of Islam (and indefatigable supporter of true Islamic reformers) Daniel Pipes, and the heroic Danish defender of freedom of speech Lars Hedegaard – who recently only narrowly fought off an attempt by Denmark’s pusillanimous prosecutors to silence him through a criminal prosecution for raising concerns about violence within some Muslim family life.

This travesty of a documentary was made by two radical Dutch film-makers for a production company called ‘Red Rebel’. Questions need to be asked how the BBC could transmit something on such an inflammatory subject which ignored the most basic standards of journalistic fairness, -- and was effectively the broadcasting equivalent of a flier distributed by the Socialist Workers’ Party.

But of course, we all know the answer to that already. BBC ‘group- think’ means that BBC executives will have assumed the lazy and vicious left-wing demonisation of Wilders is axiomatically true and unchallengeable. They will thus have suspended any critical faculties or professionalism to which they might ever have laid any claim.  

We are living in truly evil times.



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