Saturday, February 04, 2006

Searching for the real Mohammed...

I searched the BBC's site today for 'Muhammad', and something struck me. Every single return referred to him as "the Prophet Muhammad". Really, I didn't know the Beeb were so religious. To call Muhammad 'the Prophet' is a tacit endorsement of Islam's claims. It is analogous to the pious term 'the Lord Jesus Christ', which you will not find the BBC using (In case anyone thinks this is just to distinguish that Mohammad from all the others, I would point out that Jesus is a first-name too in countries like Spain; an interesting quirk for a post-Islamic state).

Now I have no problem with secularism, as long as it's even-handed- but in the BBC's case, quite obviously it isn't. The BBC might respond that the West is far less religious, so it's an appropriate distinction in their address. That's not a good response though. In the UK, for example, 70 percent or so regard themselves as CoE, so that the difference can be better seen in terms of tolerance. Many people I've known who've termed themselves Christians have enjoyed Monty Python's Life of Brian, for instance.

Now, I would have no problem with the BBC saying that it wasn't their business to enforce western tolerance as a lodestone for its coverage, taking a moralistic liberal tone as a standard from which to judge all events, but that's exactly what they do on many issues that concern certain groups and countries- it's one of the staple inspirations for this blog. They often fly in the face, for example, of US sensitivities, and Israeli sensitivities, and white people's sensitivities, and western conservative sensibilities etc etc. One could point out that the majority of Africans are Christians, and often passionate ones, but this somehow doesn't seem to weigh in the BBC's balance.

Well, one could respond that there are dominant sensitivities in need of challenging (ha ha- western conservativsm 'dominant'!), but really, in Iran Muslim sensibilities are thoroughly dominant, and in Saudi, and in Indonesia, and in these countries such sensibilities are often enforced through great injustices- the banning of christianity, the imprisonment of converts, and so on. And the BBC styles itself as a world broadcaster, spends taxpayer's money in this cause (yes, the licence fee was recently designated 'a tax'), and therefore has a responsibility, at least, to be 'world impartial'

So what I want is for the BBC to be evenhanded; that is all. Oh, and to get rid of the licence fee which complicates and exacerbates all their faults.

Google Custom Search