Egypt on the Nile, BBC in Denial (Cohen on Pollard on “Sunday”)

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    4th January 2011


    Yes, I’ve been moved to respond yet again to a gem of a programme at that great bastion of liberal thinking, inclusiveness and understanding  – Auntie Beeb – as the BBC used to be called in the days when aunties fed you sweets and cakes, and not lies and distortions as much of its time today (though still in a subtle, gentle, auntie-ish sort of way, of course.)

    Apologies for the length of this post but after next Sunday you will not be able to access this ‘Sunday’, podcast, and not even until then if you’re not in Britain.  Unlike those of us who actually PAY for the BBC’s ‘impartiality’ and ‘balance’ through its licence fee, non-Brits cannot access movies or audios from the BBC, as I understand it. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong. They usually do.

    I have taken the time to transcribe much of the podcast, just for the record. You need to read it, see its political angles and emphases and notice the political bias of its contributors. (the font emphases throughout are mine.)

    From the BBC Sunday website:

    On the first Sunday of 2011, Presenter Edward Stourton will be joined by Stephen Pollard, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Sarah Joseph OBE, Editor and CEO Emel Magazine and Paul Vallely, Columnist on the Independent on Sunday and the Church Times. They’ll be reflecting on some key issues from the past year and looking ahead to the future.

    Ten years on from the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, our Reporter Kevin Boquet explores the relationship between Islam and the West.

    Journalist Nick Cohen, who despite his name, has mentioned at his site that he is NOT Jewish. (if that makes his writing more palatable to some)

    At his post here Nick Cohen points to this on ‘Sunday’ on BBC’s Radio4 on Sunday morning (listen here in a new window.)  I’m afraid I was still in the land of nod at 7:10am so I missed it. But I’ve caught up, which is just as well. We need to be wide awake to notice the brainwashing that goes on all around us. Fast asleep brings more than sweet dreams.

    Nick Cohen highlights the 9/11 anniversary discussion which starts at 24:50 minutes in. He points up Stephen Pollard’s contribution and the conversation around it, which had Pollard up in arms and rightly so –

    Cohen: “The BBC began its report (here 28 minutes in) on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by saying that after the attack “some in the west felt personally threatened by Muslims. They believed that Muslims had nothing[sic] hatred for America and its allies.” Note how at once the BBC avoids discussion of radical Islam, which does indeed have nothing but hatred for the West, for the Jews, for the Hindus and for the free thinkers, atheists, agnostics, liberals, secularist and democrats. Hatred that is complemented by its loathing for those Muslims or ex-Muslins who do not share its fascistic values, and whom it is slaughtering and oppressing wherever it has the power to kill.”

    But Mr Cohen didn’t pick this out, and the subtleties within, which is just one minute in –

    Highly respected BBC presenter Edward Stourton

    Edward Stourton: “The attack on a Coptic Christian Church in Alexandria this weekend was the deadliest incident of its kind in Egypt for many years. The explosion killed 21 people and wounded many more, several of them from the mosque across the street.”

    What did Nick Cohen miss?

    Two points of bias and/or strange representation/misrepresentation of the facts, just in these two opening sentences.

    One, it wasn’t the deadliest for “many years”. It was the deadliest since Christmas LAST year. In more accurate words – the deadliest in twelve months. (And last Christmas’s attack had been the deadliest in a decade.)

    Two, why point out that Muslims were also injured “from the mosque across the street”? Should that information detract us from the fact that 21 had been killed and 79 injured? Should our concern over this Islamist outrage be lessened or, with any BBC luck, even heightened because some Muslims too were injured? By other Muslims!?

    The aftermath of the suicide bombing in Alexandria last week, when 21 people were killed and 79 injured

    We KNOW that Muslims as well as the rest of us die and are injured at the hands of radical, fundamentalist Muslims. Or most of us do. It’s hardly a surprise. It happens every day!

    Odd how this is considered worth mentioning by the reasonable-sounding and I’m sure very likeable Mr Stourton. As though it’s something new, something unexpected, something of great consequence. It isn’t. But such an observation is par for the BPC BBC course.



    The fact that Muslims kill Muslims in ongoing attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Pakistan and Somalia, in Yemen and Egypt (to name but few) is seldom if ever highlighted as significant by the BBC. Odd, isn’t it?

    Or is it odd?  As far as Iraq and Afghanistan are concerned the BBC’s underlying and often even overlying zeitgeist is that none of this terorism would be happening if the west hadn’t gone into Iraq and/or Afghanistan in 2001/2003.  Presumably it suits the Beeb to extend that ‘blame the west’ thinking to the atrocities, including Muslim upon Muslim, on all the other regions and countries of the world where Islamist fascism is attempting to take root.

    That zeitgeist is false. Fake, shameful and disgraceful. It is utter rot, but is sadly the light guiding the BBC’s approach to much regarding Islamist fundamentalism/terrorism. It is a shared belief right across much of our press, literati, commentary, opinion, universities, and “informed” opinion.

    But it is worse than that. Our present politicians of all parties, those sworn to protect and defend us, have swallowed the zany zeitgeist hook, line and sinker.

    In Tony Blair’s memoir he said we should be angry about ongoing Muslim upon Muslim murders in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sorry, Mr Blair, the zeitgeist in the west and particularly in our own country says we should be angry about other things – you, America, Bush, Iraq, Israel, Obama. There isn’t enough anger to spare, or enough balanced thinking, to be angry at the real perpetrators of death:  radicalised murderous Muslims.  Or at the very least at so-called Muslims. People who, so-called or not, yell “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greater) when God’s people lie dead or dying as a consequence of their actions.

    You can hear the yells of  “Allahu Akbar” in this video inspired by the Christmas 2010 atrocity in Egypt which tells of decades-long, centuries-long discrimination against Egypt’s Copts. One Christian Copt says “why do they think God only listens to them?” Amazing how Mr Stourton assumes that last week’s atrocities  – 100 dead or injured – came out of nowhere.

    Back to Ed Stourton’s conversation with Yolande Knell. [Stourton in red, Knell in blue, and my thoughts in grey – very grey. MY bolding]

    Edward Stourton: We’re joined from Jerusalem by the BBC’s Yolande Knell, who was until recently based in Egypt.  Yolande, it has by all accounts been a very difficult year for relations between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

    Yolande Knell. This woman was the only BBC journo contributing who seemed to know what she was talking about

    [“by all accounts a very difficult year”? Where has this BBC presenter been in recent years? On Mars?]

    Yolande Knell: Well in fact it’s been a difficult past few years in Egypt. There’s been a rise in the number of incidents of sectarian violence and there’s a very credible Egyptian monitoring group that says there are now a couple of violent incidents taking place every month. Also that the geographical scope has widened so that they occur across the country, in the cities and in the countryside and in the north as well as in the south and they do seem to be getting more serious. It’s just one year ago that there was this attack on Christians that was then the  worst in a decade,  that was in Nagaa Hammadi to the north of Luxor in southern Egypt,  and six Christians were killed and one Muslim security guard when there was a drive-by shooting after worshippers came out of church from mass on Christmas Eve. There was also a November violence in Cairo with Copts protesting restrictions on building a church.

    ES: And what is driving it?

    [“what is driving it?” Those nasty murderous Christian Copts, of COURSE, Mr Stourton!]

    YK: Well, it’s difficult to say exactly. We should point out first of all I suppose that this attack was dramatically different from anything we’ve seen before in Egypt. There have not been serious bombings targeting Copts let alone a suicide bombing as this is said to have been. And the Egyptian authorities are blaming foreign elements for this attack and we know that Al Qaeda in Iraq has, following recent attacks against the Iraqi Christian community there, it’s made threats against the Copts. But yes there are underlying causes of sectarian tensions in Egypt and even if a foreign link is proven we can’t ignore that there was a very fertile ground for such an attack in Egypt, that people have been warning about this. And you can trace it back as far as the 1970s when there was a rise in Islamism in the country which in turn caused Copts to turn inwards towards the church. Many experts say people started to define themselves more by their religious identity than their national identity, and to mix less as well. And feeding into this you have the state of political stagnation, emergency law which closes off civic spaces apart from churches and mosques as places to gather. And then you have education, the media also playing a part, and Copts who are of course indigenous to Egypt are now getting more vocal in their complaints that they’re treated as second-class citizens and they point out that they need special permission to build a church which is not required for building a mosque, for example.

    [Notice how Ed Stourton does not follow up on her profusion of information with any digging on such as ‘Islamism since the 70s’ or the ‘second-class citizen’ reference? Instead we have this, whose answer is fairly obvious anyway -]

    ES: How effective have the authorities been in catching those responsible for past incidents of this kind?

    YK: Not too effective at all it has to be said and one thing that’s often complained about is that this is put on the security services with the authorities often denying that there is an environment of sectarian division and you have people just calling for national unity even in response to this attack and not looking at the fact that there are  serious sectarian differences there. The security services, what they will typically do when there’s a community dispute is to round up almost equal numbers of Christians and Muslims indiscriminately and then have them attend some sort of reconciliation meeting and they avoid criminal charges most of the time. In the Nagaa Hammadi case there were local muslim men who were arrested and they are still on trial to this day for the attacks against Christians, but this was linked to a parallel case where a Christian man is on trial from a neighbouring town for allegedly raping a Muslim child. So there again these things are being done in parallel, there’s a political balance which is kept.

    Do you notice how Mr Stourton seems to huff and puff as Ms Knell speaks? Why does he seem to steer the conversation away from any recognition that this terrorism is perpetrated by the actual terrorists? He gently focuses on questions such as “what are the authorities doing”, as though the authorities can actually manage Islamist extremist terrorism. They can’t or won’t even admit it exists. Now THAT should be of interest to neutral, investigative journalism.

    Even here in Britain our present prime minister managed to warn us in his New Year speech about “internationalist terrorism” before he got around to mentioning the “M” word. Though, to be fair he got there, eventually:

    Cameron: “But we must ask ourselves as a country how we are allowing the radicalisation and poisoning of the minds of some young British Muslims who then contemplate and sometimes carry out acts of sickening barbarity.

    And the overwhelming majority of British Muslims who detest this extremism must help us to find the answers together.”

    Yes, Mr Cameron we must ask ourselves “how we are allowing…” – starting with our universities and our press. But you’re even more right to call on the “majority” of Muslims. It might help if you hadn’t started off your premiership by distorting the picture over Gaza and the Mavi Marmara incident. Gaza, according to Mr Cameron, is a “prison camp”. The sort of prison camp where the inmates lob grenades at the guards and wonder why the guards aren’t too keen on opening the gates?

    A man gazes at the blood-splattered scene outside the Coptic Christian church in Alexandria after the Islamist attack last week, which killed 79 people



    Around 25 mins in Sunday’s 9/11 coverage starts. This is where Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle enters the picture, as mentioned at Cohen’s.

    Ed Stourton starts off this section by reminding us that we will mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 this year … “if you want a measure of how much changed when two airliners were flown into the Twin Towers you need only reflect that we will also be marking a decade of British military involvement in Afghanistan this year”.

    (Yes, Mr Stourton – we got that message about British foreign policy. Yes. Move on, please.)

    ES continues: Islam’s relationship with Christianity and Christian culture with the west more generally indeed has held centre stage for much of the past ten years. Kevin Boquet reports.

    (For some reason best known to its own bias, after George Bush’s words – “two aeroplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country” – Mr Boquet moves as if by instinct, so we could hardly see the genetic join, to the first contribution – by an American Muslim, Zahed Amanullah. He is editor of and has been based in London since 2003.

    Yes, Mr Amanullah is American, so of the west. And he is a moderate Muslim.  So two BBC contributions to “balance”, we take it.

    But he has a particular viewpoint or/and represents those who have a particular viewpoint on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Since this piece was introduced as a prelude to commemorating 9/11 when, REMEMBER, a Christian country was attacked by Muslims, couldn’t the BBC for ONCE in its jewelled and honoured existence have as its leading voice someone who takes a stance showing how it is NOT the Middle East wars that are causing this terrorism? Doesn’t it have the phone number of anyone who supports THAT argument? Of course it does. If not they can e-mail me. But spilling the zeitgeist by offering a new and more reasoned zeitgeist is not in the BBC’s interests, clearly.

    So off we go with Mr Amanullah bemoaning the fact that Muslims still see the invasion of Iraq AND Afghanistan as “unjustified”. This, the victim mentality of those associated if only by religion to the actual perpetrators of murder, neatly sets up the main theme and emphasis of this whole piece.


    Kevin Boquet: Nearly a decade later the memories are still painful. After 9/11 there were some in the west who felt personally threatened by Islam. They believed Muslims the world over had nothing but hatred for America and its allies. But Zahed Amanullah executive director of the online news magazine says the truth was very different. He claims the majority of Muslims admired and still admire much of what America stands for. But they think the invasions, first of Afghanistan and then Iraq, were unjustified.

    (Yes, Mr Boquet – we got that message about British foreign policy. Already. Mr Stourton reminded us. Yes. Move on, please.)

    Zahed Amanullah: We still see that dichotomy in the Muslim world today. I mean, we still see the anger toward American foreign policy, but poll after poll also shows how Muslims around the world still value some of the things that America has provided for its own people Muslims included,  the opportunities, the freedoms and so forth. So this is still going to be a dichotomy that continues past the ten-year anniversary of September 11th.

    (Note the inverted logic here. This is the same dichotomy that permits Muslims to argue that their increasing presence in Europe, where they live in freedom, is in fact the opposite. Any recent non-Muslim uncertainties about Islam’s intentions, though intentions confessed by many Muslims – a caliphate/sharia law/end to democracy – are somehow undeserved uncertainties. See videos here.)

    Boquet’s piece then cuts to the voice of Terry Jones (“the pastor of an obscure church in Florida”) – who threatened to kill every Muslim, oops sorry, burn the koran. Jones is saying –

    “When do we stop giving in to Islam, or radical Islam? When they burn the flag, when they kill Christians, when they burn churches?”

    KB: This is the voice of Terry Jones the pastor of an obscure church in Florida who until recently was barely known outside his own tiny congregation. But four months ago he stepped into the centre of world attention with his threat to burn the koran on the 9th anniversary of 9/11.

    (WHAT? Burn the koran? Is that like burning the bible? This bible burning is done on a regular basis, by Muslims. But nobody pays attention. And anyway, since Muslims are not expected to take responsibility for other Muslims’ actions, while every Christian is held responsible for another Christian’s actions, this does not enter the ‘Sunday’ debate. Another dichotomy? You bet. We now enter a never-never land phase about “extremism on ALL sides”!)

    KB: Zahed Amanullah said it’s an example of another significant development over the last decade –  the ease with which extremists on all sides can now make their voices heard.

    (WHAT? extremists on ALL sides? And now they really have some fun, shifting goalposts and blaming the internet for this extremism on “ALL sides”. How many websites do you find suggesting Christianity or Judaism should take over the world? That Muslims must convert or die? How many times do you see Christian or Jewish sites saying such as “kill the Muslim infidels”? How many indiscriminate suicide bombings of Muslims by non-Muslims have you been encouraged to take part in recently, via web invite?)

    ZA: It’s no co-incidence that the rise in extremism is correlated with the rise of the use of the internet. And that’s the real challenge – is that it’s amplifying the extremes of society on all sides. Islam is unique in the sense that we have no hierarchy and therefore the  internet is making a bit of chaos within the Islamic world theologically. Every single individual that has access to the technology feels empowered to have their say and as a result you have extremist imams who are misleading people and, you know, the challenge for the rest of us is to counteract that.

    (A “bit” of chaos. That’s the nub of the chaos. The lack of hierarchical direction.  This is something the BBC and most on the liberal left have yet to take into account.  It is a fact that every Muslim can decide for himself what Islam is, and no other Muslim can challenge him. Of course, no she is allowed to offer an opinion as regards what Islam is. Oh, no. Let’s be sensible, now.)

    KB: Faced with extremism on ALL sides (yes, extremism on ALL sides AGAIN! Mr Amanullah’s words echoed for the second time  by this BBC employee) governments have responded in a variety of ways.  Security has been their priority. The anti-terrorist measures now in force at most airports are evidence of that. But there have been other changes in the way that governments think. Dr Sara Sylvestri is a senior lecturer in religion and politics at London’s City University.

    SS: These governments and other European governments in particular have actually worked very hard to try to work with Muslim communities. They’ve realised that actually religion and identity and ethnicity are playing an important role in shaping relations within society.  So there has been a sort of rediscovery of religion. On the other hand also Muslim communities have been trying to reconsider again the possibility of co-existence between Islam and democracy.”

    (WHAT? Reconsider the possibility of co-existence? Again? Does she mean that Muslims have been considering it in the past and found it wanting? And they forgot to tell us, while they lived under its securities? That blasted democracy! News for you, Ms Sylvestri – democracy and peaceful co-existence are not opt-in/opt-out/add-on/ but-only-if-you-choose options in democracies. They come with all the rest of the comfy package.)

    KB: It’s that relationship between Islam and democracy that often causes tension. For example in April 2010 when  the Belgian government banned women from wearing face-covering veils in public.  The Belgian politician Daniel Bacallan -“I think niqab and burka are symbols of fundamentalism. To live with the other people I have to be recognised, and it’s not possible to encounter each other if I can’t see the other face.”

    (And why, Mr Boquet, does the BBC fail to challenge the ‘tension’ that Muslims find in the relationship between their religion and democracy? Is secular, all-encompassing democracy less important than a religion when it comes to working out how our society functions?)

    KB continues: But some women saw the ban as an attack on their culture. They organised a campaign and according to Dr Sylvestri that demonstrated something very interesting. Not just that they were devoted Muslims. They were also  steeped in western values.

    SS: They have actually been very vocal, very capable to stand up for themselves to present their own cause and to defend themselves and to organise themselves into demonstrations in the streets and so on. So paradoxically although the very fact of wearing religion symbols and religious clothing pointed out by external observers as an example of how Muslim women are apparently detaching themselves from European values and European society and European lifestyle, in fact those very actions, the very ability of Muslim women to articulate their views has actually shown how they are fully integrated into European society.

    (Er no. Not necessarily. It shows that women are PERMITTED to organise etc in the west!)

    To the background of emergency vehicles, 7/72005 – and the broadcasting news –

    KB: July 2005 the London Bombings. Throughout the decade a whole catalogue of terrorist incidents and atrocities threatened to undermine the efforts of those trying to promote peace and harmony between Islam and the west. Canon Alan Race runs the St Phillips Centre in Leicester Britain’s most diverse city in terms of its different faiths and  ethnicities.

    (Missing word: Islamist terrorist incidents and atrocities.)

    Alan Race: There is a sense in which the kind of media reporting of a lot of these things just piles on an agony that could very well undermine community relations. But every time something international like this happens the community rallies round very strongly.

    (Is Canon Race suggesting the press stop reporting these atrocities, ‘these things’, as he calls them? Would that be more comfortable and less painful for his mixed community? For all of us? Some of us describe that as censorship. Not exactly “liberal”, Canon Race.)

    KB: Late in 2010 a plot by Al Qaeda in Yemen targeting synagogues in the United States served as a reminder that it’s not just Christians who are under threat from Muslim extremism.

    (WOW! A reminder! Do YOU need reminding? Where does the BBC get these informed journalists?)

    KB: Canon Race who spent the last decade trying to promote interfaith harmony says there are many complex lessons to be learned from 9/11, and he says the process has only just begun.

    Alan Race: There are many levels of response to 9/11 that have been kind of going on over the last 10 years: scholarly levels, people wanting to help others understand what a religion is all about, there’s a level of the local community, there’s a kind of  government level of the promotion of community cohesion, for example. And I think within that an important recognition but a very slow one that actually religion matters for a whole lot of people and that it’s central in the definition of their identity.

    (Surely complex, and surely the process of learning has only just begun. The BBC is in the slow-learners’ queue. For a start – 9/11 was perpetrated AGAINST the west, not BY the west. And here endeth lesson 1.)

    ES: Canon Alan Race ending that report from Kevin Boquet. Sarah Joseph, we began this programme with the story of the attack on the  Coptic church in Egypt. It’s pretty depressing that we’re beginning with a story like that as we prepare to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11, isn’t it?

    Sarah Joseph: It is, it’s very depressing but I do believe that people of faith should never be depressed and that the notion of despair is actually an attribute of a …  a sort of … the Satan in the Islamic discourse.  But, you know, in relation to the notion of Islam and the west, where I want to begin is with that “and”.

    (Yes, it’s best to move away quickly from the “sort of Satan in the Islamic discourse”, isn’t it, Ms Joseph?)

    SJ continues: The idea that Islam is a monolith and the west is a monolith is difficult and the idea that there’s an “and” as opposed to an “in” or a “with” or “of” the west. There are 25 million Muslims living in Europe and we are of the west, I am “of the west”. It’s not something distinct for us and I think that once we constantly kind of create these dichotomies, this separation, this polarisation, and these are some of the biggest issues and that’s what we really need to fight against.

    (“Dichotomies”. A favoured word for the Muslim contributors here. But – “we create these dichotomies”? Who is “we”? Not that I am creating dichotomies, you understand, Ms Joseph. But Muslims came to Europe in numbers in recent decades and centuries, were responsible for international terrorism in recent years and for decades, and settled in European democracies. Now they question those democracies. It was NOT non-Muslims going to Islamic countries and expecting or imposing . So whose dichotomy?)

    ES: But isn’t that what 9/11 to some extent did?

    SJ: I don’t know whether it did that. I think that that’s what perhaps the perpetrators of it hoped to achieve.  And we’ve got to make sure that we’re not singing from their hymn sheet, if I want to cross my religious cultural reference points. But it’s that idea that we have to create this gap, and it’s about I think people who are … and the vast majority of people from all faiths are reasonable, sensible and engaged human beings, to cross those divides and reach out as human beings.

    Stephen Pollard of the Jewish Chronicle found himself the only one present who seemed to think perhaps, just perhaps, Muslims and Islam have a case to answer for the world's terrorism

    Ed Stourton: Stephen Pollard, do you feel at all optimistic about the possibility of closing that gap in the light of what we’ve seen in the last ten years?

    Stephen Pollard: Not when one is confronted with what I thought was a deeply misguided report that we’ve just had to listen to (a “hah!” from a male voice. Stourton?) I mean the idea that there is some sort of by equivalence of extremism here as was put forward by one of the interviewees. Terry Jones may be a nutcase, he may be a lunatic, who nobody sensible would associate with, but in the end what he was threatening to do was to burn a book.  He wasn’t threatening as Islamic extremists are doing …

    ES(?) A Holy book.

    SP: A holy book, yes, but in the end that’s what it was. Yes, but he wasn’t threatening to instigate a network of global terror which Islamic extremists are doing.  And I think the idea that … we also heard a phrase of  surprise from Kevin Bouquet that it’s not just Christians under threat. Well hold on a minute, there’s an Islamic country Iran which is developing a nuclear weapon with the specific purpose of removing the Jewish state from the map.

    ES: Poor old Kevin, I’m not sure he was sort of addressing that area particularly but…

    SP: Well, no but I think it actually typifies the way that we deal with this. We live in fantasy land.

    ES: All right. Paul Vallely.

    (Mr V – your turn to argue the BBC’s side, PLEASE!)

    Paul Vallely

    Paul Vallely, Columnist on the Independent on Sunday and the Church Times: Well we do like polarisations, I mean it used to be kind of white versus black . One of the things that 9/11 did it turned Asians into Muslims in our eyes or in their own self-definition, although if you look at some of the mill towns round here it was happening anyway. But what’s most alarmed me about 9/11 is the fracture within the liberal elite which once kind of embraced values of freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, culture and so forth and that’s now very much under threat and there’s a really kind of intolerant streak in some of our liberal establishment.

    ES: Are you aiming that partly at Stephen Pollard?

    (Between lines – ‘Hope so, cos I daren’t be so blatant – independent and balanced as I am am supposed to be‘)

    PV: No I’m thinking more about the idea that multiculturalism is dead – multiculturalism was the idea that we could celebrate all the cultures that we’ve got here. And suddenly the discourse has shifted to talking about oh, you know, people need to learn to speak English, it’s about Britishness it’s er. … those are all things … of course people need to learn to speak English, but that’s code for saying, you know – we don’t like you – you are other,  and there’ s a kind of … there’s a … people talk about Islamophobia but I think it’s actually broader than that, it’s a hostility towards religion which we’re seeing manifested in anybody who kind of sticks their heads above the news parapet like the Pope or the Muslim community, suddenly gets all this kind of  hostility directed at them.

    (Er, no. Mr V. Speaking English is NOT code for “we don’t like you”. What Utter rot.)

    Sarah Joseph

    ES: Well let me ask Sarah Joseph …

    Sarah Joseph OBE, Editor and CEO Emel Magazine, (a convert to Islam) opined that “I do think that religion within our society and I think there is a form of extremism, a sort of secular extremism which we have to make sure in a liberal secular democracy we get rid of that extremism, we don’t allow it to the fore.”

    (WHAT? Secular extremism? You mean the kind that kills people in the name of secular democracy? Daily? OMG! How AWFUL!!)

    SJ continues: One point I’d like to make … was a poll by Gallup … at Georgetown University  – ‘what a billion Muslims really think’. And when they were asked what they admired about the west they gave items like  “freedom, democracy, free speech”  – things that we accuse Muslims that they don’t actually like. And what they said that what upsets you most about the west  – and they said – a lack of respect for Islam. When the same poll asked bog-standard Joe Blogs Americans what they most admired about Islam, the response was  “nothing”.

    (A background “tch…”  and sigh from another present)

    Looking ahead to what they think is the big story in the year coming –

    Stephen Pollard: I think clearly that’s going to be a huge issue (Iran’s nuclear ambitions) over not just 2011, but over forthcoming years.  It’s an issue both in terms of how we deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. It’s also an issue in terms of what happens if Iran does actually get the bomb, I mean that’s a huge geopolitical issue.  On a more domestic level I think one of the issues that we are not confronting at all is the issue of radical Islam on campus and the impact it’s having. Even when there is clear evidence of it.  Universities UK for instance promised a report last year. They began their report and it’s been delayed and delayed and delayed. UCL denies that there’s any form of  problem on campus. We now have, on the Jewish Chronicle, we now have a campus correspondent, and we are – to say we’re flooded with stories of anti-Semitism on campus,  it understates it. It is a difficult time to be Jewish on campus now almost exclusively because of the rise of radical Islam on campus.


    Paul Vallely: Iran needs very careful handling, but you’ve got to remember that Iran has India, Pakistan, Russia, Israel all round it, all nuclear powers, so it’s not quite as  straight-forward as is sometimes made.

    (Mr Vallely seems to suggest that since Iran is surrounded by other nuclear powers, it is right for it to want/need its own. So that’s all right then. Saudi Arabia doesn’t agree with Mr Vallely – “cut off the head of the snake” – Selective, aren’t we, Mr V?)

    Paul Vallely is the associate editor of The Independent and was once at the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’.  Whoops!


    Stephen Pollard refers to his ‘Sunday’ experience at The Jewish Chronicle – Radio 4: The threat from Christian extremists is as bad as jihadi terror

    “Christian extremists”? Perhaps Mr Pollard should have expanded on this thought. Personally I think that headline is too broad-sweep in the Christian direction and at the same time frankly inadequate. Religion hardly comes into the twisted thinking of most of those who knee-jerk   “Israel – bad / anything Islam – good.”

    If religion DID come into their reckoning, and not just this naive and fond belief that there is an honest equivalence emanating from all the world and its peoples and its religions and its moral certainties there may be a touch more rationality coming from those jerks.

    Excerpts from Nick Cohen’s article follows –

    ‘Far-left’ and ‘far-right’: distinctions without differences

    Sunday, 2nd January 2011

    The common ideology is that democratic countries are the source of all the evils of the world, which is where Wikileaks fits in, and that democracy and human rights are shams. As is traditional, all parties to the compact spew out the Jewish conspiracy theory.

    The second reason for my discomfort with the old labels is that I know too many people who will, rightly, condemn the Tories for allying with nationalist and xenophobic movements in Eastern Europe while staying silent about the liberal-left’s alliances with the misogynists, homophobes and racists of radical Islam.


    Alas, whenever you believe that you have nailed British hypocrisy, the BBC comes along and proves that it is worse than you thought. If there were an award for intellectual cowardice, a gold medal for journalistic double standards, this morning’s effort by Radio 4 deserves it.

    The BBC began its report (here 28 minutes in) on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by saying that after the attack “some in the west felt personally threatened by Muslims. They believed that Muslims had nothing hatred for America and its allies.” Note how at once the BBC avoids discussion of radical Islam, which does indeed have nothing but hatred for the West, for the Jews, for the Hindus and for the free thinkers, atheists, agnostics, liberals, secularist and democrats. Hatred that is complemented by its loathing for those Muslims or ex-Muslins who do not share its fascistic values, and whom it is slaughtering and oppressing wherever it has the power to kill.

    Instead of acknowledging radical Islam’s existence, the BBC politely ignores what was in front of its nose and implies that to oppose radical Islam is to incubate a racist hated[sic] of all Muslims.

    The only fanatic it quotes is Pastor Jones, the Florida preacher who wanted to burn the Koran. He is a nasty piece of work, to be sure, but an insignificant figure whose global notoriety owes everything to media corporations such as the BBC. The fanaticism we should worry about is Christian fanaticism not Islamist fanaticism, the suggestion runs. At the very least there is a moral equivalence between the two. The BBC then mentions the 7/7 bombings, which as I remember them were perpetrated by men with “nothing but hatred for the West”. Instead of finding someone who can talk about the killings with honesty and intelligence, it drags up a vicar so wet you could wring him out. His contribution is to blame the media for “piling on the agony” – as if journalists were the suicide bombers – and to describe the atrocity in tellingly woozy and illiterate language as “something international,” when it was all too clearly “something domestic”.

    I am glad to say that in the studio discussion afterwards, Stephen Pollard exploded. “The idea that there is some kind of equivalence of extremism” between a Florida pastor with a tiny congregation and a global clerical fascist movement was “fantasy,” he boomed.

    Here is my first prediction for 2011. Radio 4 will not invite Mr Pollard back for a very long time.

    It seems you can e-mail the Sunday programme at – – if you’re interested, or think the BBC will pay attention. I won’t bother.

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