Radio 4 shies away from religion as a factor in terrorism

Reader “Serendipitydawg” called my attention to a new episode of “Any Questions” show on BBC Radio 4 that, after a minute of introduction, began by tossing out some terrorism-religion questions to the listeners: “What are you doing in the age of terror? What are you doing about the threat? Can there ever be an end in sight?”

Serenditypitydawg was exercised because, he said, “I was struck when listening to the programme live how much they really didn’t seem to want any mention of religion in connection to the Nice attack… the first caller was sidelined and the second shut down all mention for the rest of the programme.”

He added that perhaps he was overly sensitive to this issue, but having listened to the first 10 minutes (that’s all you need), I think he’s right.

The first caller, Melanie from Manchester, is worried about the Islamic nature of terrorism, but is immediately interrupted by the host, who asserts that terrorists are adhering to “a very perverted form of Islam not recognized or condoned by any other followers” (??). The host then turns for help to the second caller, who, to her surprise, agrees with the first caller! O noes! And then so does caller #3, who says that education won’t help the issue because terrorism depends not on level of education, but on religious faith, which he calls “indoctrination.” The host then decides to deep-six the issue move on to other things.

The callers seemed knowledgeable, educated, and not at all racist yobs; they were clearly concerned about the religious factor in terrorism. The host (I don’t know her name) was uncomfortable with this, and resorted to the “NOT REAL ISLAM” trope about terrorism. This is, of course, not only wrong, but an irresponsible statement by a journalist. And it’s a violation of Nawaz’s Principle. (See the last post.) She also mentioned one terrorist incident that didn’t involve religion—but so what? That’s a herring of the reddest tint.

But listen for yourself. Could it be that Radio 4, or the BBC in general, has a policy to avoid mentioning religion? I don’t listen to the station, so perhaps other readers can comment.

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  1. Cindy
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink


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  2. jesusandmo
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    It was Sheila McClennon. I heard the show. She seemed genuinely afraid of making the link between Islam and terrorism.

    • serendipitydawg
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      What a relief,I seriously thought I was getting hyper sensitive in my dotage🙂

      As PCC(E) stated, the callers weren’t simply bigots calling to score points and Ms McClennon seemed genuinely discomfited by what they were saying, though it seemed perfectly reasonable and cogently stated.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      I suppose, like many, she doesn’t seem to see that by refusing to acknowledge this link, it’s just going to result in the backlash that she most likely fears. When people are not heard by reasonable people, they’ll turn to unreasonable people who will embrace them and the results just can’t be positive when that happens.

  3. Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  4. Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink


  5. Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Could it be that Radio 4, or the BBC in general, has a policy to avoid mentioning religion?

    No it doesn’t, indeed overall it is very pro-religion. For example it does a religious “thought for the day” slot every morning.

    Now, if you meant policy of mentioning anything bad about religion, then yes it does. I still remember the deference the BBC showed the Pope on his visit, and its near censorship of voices critical of him.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      And here is the site that tries to provide some sort of counter to the relentlessly apologetic TfTD:

    • David Harper
      Posted July 17, 2016 at 1:15 am | Permalink

      There’s also “Prayer for the Day” at 05:43 each morning on BBC Radio 4, but “Thought for the Day” is the prime-time religious platitude slot, right in the middle of BBC Radio 4’s flagship morning news and current affairs programme. The BBC has repeatedly refused to allow humanist and other non-religious speakers on “Thought for the Day”.

  6. Posted July 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I noticed that early in the (Mountain Time) morning on the day of the truck-murder, the BBC and the French had repeatedly made the truck-terrorist’s name (Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhle) puplic, but that USA’s National Public Radio’s Morning Edition refused to publicise the name.

  7. Filippo
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    ‘ . . . the host, who asserts that terrorists are adhering to “a very perverted form of Islam not recognized or condoned by any other followers” (??).’

    I’m still waiting to see a list, generated by supremely learned Islamic scholars (the only ones qualified to do so, I gather), of not-perverted forms/denominations of Islam. (Am reminded of a list of cults generated by the Southern Baptist Convention some years ago.)

  8. somer
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    I think particularly in the parliamentary system Anglo countries – and I suspect in many west european countries too – public broadcasters view multiculturalism and anti racism legislation as meaning a version of national unity where aspects of the religion or culture of minorities can never be discussed in problematic terms. To do so is seen as divisive, antisocial or even illegal. I think they are possibly also afraid that social justice warrior types or even pro religion people in a conservative government may invoke anti discrimination or anti racism legislation or anything else to say that the broadcaster has infringed their charter and penalise them financially. However they really have to take a stand on this and more politicians should be expecting them to do so, whilst continuing to support equality under the law, and freedom from harassment etc. of minorities.

  9. Posted July 17, 2016 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    The BBC doesn’t seem very different from other news media, or politicians, in this, um, respect.


  10. Posted July 17, 2016 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Apparently supporting Sharia law, refusing to have non-Muslims as friends, and believing that Christians will burn in hell forever for their faith in the Trinity and associating the word “begotten” with Christ are also “not real Islam,” although the relevant passages appear in the Quran over and over again.

  11. Mike
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    On the whole, the BBC when it comes to Islam is pretty honest about the reasons behind the terrorism , but with the exception of appearances by Nawaz, the rest of their “experts” tend to be islamic accommodationists.

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