Wednesday, June 29 2016


BBC Radio 3 programme on Islam's Golden Age of Learning

BBC Radio 3’s programme on The Islamic Golden Age, which was broadcast yesterday evening, can be found on BBC iPlayer here.

The programme, one in a twenty-part essay series on the Islamic Golden Age presented by historian Dr. Amira Bennison, explores two great cities of learning, Baghdad and Cairo.

Tune in here.




Councillor urges Lincoln police to support ban on EDL protest

The Grantham Journal reports on new developments concerning the planned English Defence League demonstration in the city against a mosque planning application with local councillor, Ray Wootten, writing to Lincolnshire Police with a request that they support a ban on the protest.

Wootten, chairman of Grantham East Neighbourhood Policing Team, has asked Lincolnshire Police to write to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, and urge that a ban be invoked on the EDL demo.

Lincolnshire Police have responded to say that they will not seek a ban on the protest and that the EDL will be met “with enough manpower to ensure the people of Grantham can go about their daily business”.

Cabinet rift over stop and search overhaul

Rachel Sylvester in her column in The Times (£) today covers the storm brewing between the PM, David Cameron, and Home Secretary, Theresa May, over the latter’s determination to review the use of stop and search powers by police forces across England and Wales.

The Home Secretary announced a review of stop and search last July with a number of subsequent reports by the Equality and Human Rights Commission establishing the extent of disproportionate use against BME people.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in a report also published last year stated that almost a quarter of all stops were ‘unlawful’.

Sylvester reports on the clash between the Home Secretary’s attempt to curtail the use of the powers, in order to improve trust between police and ethnic minorities and cut back on wasteful costs associated with the profligate use of the powers, and the PM’s fear of appearing ‘weak on crime’ as he battles UKIP’s appeal in the Wythenshawe and Sale by-election.

Sylvester notes the significance of ethnic minority voters to the Conservative Party as “a group that will be crucial at the next general election” and whom Cameron regards as of “paramount importance”.

With the Conservatives working hard to appeal to ethnic minorities ahead of the next election, doing away with discriminatory policing powers would be a judicious move.

Grantham mosque targetted in EDL protest

Local paper, the Grantham Journal, reports on a planned English Defence League demonstration in the town against planning proposals submitted for a local mosque.

The Facebook page of the local branch, EDL Lincolnshire, urges supporters to join the anti-mosque protest which, it claims, “will reinterpret Islamic architecture in the 21st century in modern Britain”.

The Journal also reports news of a counter-protest, led by John Morgan, the husband of local Labour councillor, Charmaine Morgan.

It’s the second such protest to take place in Lincolnshire. The East Anglian Patriots held a protest against the proposed conversion of Boultham Dairy into a mosque and Islamic centre last month.

BBC Trust upholds complaint over breach of impartiality rules

Hilary Aked on Electronic Intifada draws attention to the ruling by the BBC Trust in the case of Jonathan Sacerdoti, a former Zionist Federation official who was invited onto BBC programmes in November 2012 to partake in discussions of Israel's bombardment of Gaza with no allusion to or sign-posting of his pro-Israeli bias.

Complaints by Aked on behalf of Spinwatch, and by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and ENGAGE, resulted in a partial apology in October last year when the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit

acknowledged that "viewers should have been made aware that he was not a neutral commentator."

However, the ECU's dismissal of the complaint that Sacerdoti's affiliations breached the BBC's impartiality guidelines led to an escalation of the complaint to the BBC Trust which has, a year on, accepted that BBC News channels did indeed breach impartiality guidelines.

The impartiality guidelines, clause 4.4.14, states:

"We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations… are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made."

The BBC Trust ruled that the BBC "had not made clear to the audience that the interviewee was associated with a particular viewpoint and this had resulted in a breach of impartiality guideline 4.4.14."

The process has involved complaints through the various channels: BBC Complaints, Controller of the BBC News Channel, Editorial Complaints Unit and finally, the BBC Trust and has taken over a year to resolve. Aked writes that "The process leading up to the decision was lengthy, time-consuming and frequently exasperating; at every stage, the BBC appeared unwilling to investigate properly."

The silver lining appears to be a change in procedure with the BBC Trust noting "the assurance from the Controller of the BBC News Channel that all BBC News Channel production and presentation teams had been briefed in very clear terms both in writing and in face-to-face meetings about the importance of clearly signposting interviewees when necessary."

How well the new procedures are implemented will depend on the rigour and tenacity of viewers who continue to hold the BBC to account over its output.

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 February 2014 22:24

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