Saturday, December 5, 2020
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Terror suspects and the silence of the BBC

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THE murder of a French teacher, Samuel Paty, who was targeted by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee after he showed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad to his class, has attracted global coverage and equally widespread condemnation.

The French public and political elite were united in grief and shock at the outrage and their subsequent dignified behaviour showed France at its best and most tolerant.  

All morally decent people must have been affected by this event. So former Labour MP Denis MacShane is surely right to ask why Britain remains silent on the beheading of a teacher in France by a ‘foul, murdering hater of freedom of expression’. 

MacShane notes: ‘There was no mention at Prime Ministers’ questions, no condemnation by Dominic Raab or for that matter from Sir Keir Starmer or the shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy. The biggest teachers’ union, the NEU, has published no press release, and neither have the National Union of Journalists or Index on Censorship, the UK’s self-proclaimed NGO whose task is to defend freedom of expression.’ 

He concludes by remarking that ‘the absence of any expression of solidarity in Britain is sad, a reflection perhaps of how inward-looking our society has become under the twin pressures of Covid and Brexit’. He adds: ‘We are uncomfortable about confronting the freedom-denying aspects of organised faith – Christian churches not so long ago, Islam today.’ 

There has also been near-silence here about a further terrorist event in Paris less than a week after the teacher’s murder. On October 21, the Guardian and and the Mail reported that seven Britons, said to be Londoners of Pakistani origin, had been arrested on terrorism charges two days after a policeman was attacked outside the Israeli embassy in Paris.

The BBC appears to have ignored this story. A global news operation cannot be unaware of its interest and implications for our country. Such silence amounts to censorship. Is it to conceal from exposure those who are accused of committing the act? Or does a terrorist attack against an Israeli embassy not come high on the BBC’s news agenda? You would have thought only state-controlled broadcasters in dictatorships permit such censorship. 

Could it be that they are scared of the racist tag? Saturday’s Times reported that the national inquiry into child abuse refused to investigate Britain’s most notorious sex-grooming scandals and barred key witnesses from giving evidence.

It said: ‘Victims and experts blamed the decision not to examine mass offending in Rotherham and Rochdale on a “cowardly” reluctance to look at a pattern of group crimes in which men of Pakistani heritage have been over-represented.

‘Those dismayed by the public inquiry’s failure to hear their evidence include Sarah Champion, the campaigning Rotherham MP, and Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor who brought to justice the Rochdale sex-grooming gang.

‘Maggie Oliver, a former Greater Manchester police officer who exposed the alleged cover-up of sex-grooming crimes in the region, accused the inquiry of being “too frightened to open the hornets’ nest”. 

‘Sammy Woodhouse, a Rotherham victim, claimed that those running the statutory inquiry, which began in 2015 and has cost £143million so far, “have not placed survivors at the forefront” and are “selective in what they decide to look at”. She added: “If you are going to get to the root of gang-related child sexual exploitation you need to go right to the heart of it. They are trying to bury what happened in places like Rotherham and Rochdale because they’re scared of being called racist”.’

Despite widespread knowledge of the grooming, the story was hidden for years until the men were jailed. How many of the victims would have been spared the horrors they experienced had mainstream media, especially the BBC, fully investigated and reported the story at the earliest opportunity?

It is in this context that we are asking why the BBC is silent on this latest incident. Is it afraid of accusations of racism or does it have a misguided belief that it needs to protect those accused because of their ethnicity – to protect them from racism? Would the BBC be so coy had the alleged perpetrators been white working class or from the Jewish State of Israel?

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Peter Baum
Peter Baum has had a career in international finance, working mainly in the Far East, Middle East and Europe. He is a member of the Institute of Directors and is a Deputy on the Board of Deputies for British Jews.

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