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.