The Channel 4 deputy head of news and current affairs, Kevin Sutcliffe, today dismissed accusations of Islamophobia in the broadcaster’s programming, stating that it would remain “fearless” in its coverage.
Mr Sutcliffe, one of five panelists involved at a sometimes heated session at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh international television festival about the portrayal of Islam in the media, said critics would be “hard pressed to point to Islamophobia” in Channel 4’s programming.
“We have a rounded view and approach to this issue … we are quite fearless about what we want to say and when we want to say it,” he added. In response to the Crown Prosecution Service criticism that the controversial Dispatches documentary Undercover Mosque had “distorted” the views of those filmed, Mr Sutcliffe said it was a “phoney argument”.
Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, agreed that following events such as 9/11 and the bombings in Madrid and London it was “inevitable” there would be an “increased scrutiny of Muslim organisations and mosques”.
However, he said that he was “entitled to ask if it is fair”. He then stated that Muslims and Islam “does not have a level playing field in the media in this country”. Mr Bunglawala expressed concern over “authored documentaries” in which “journalists have an axe to grind”. He cited a Panorama documentary by John Ware as an example.
Maryam Namazie, spokesperson of the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain, strongly disagreed, arguing that the UK media was too soft in its coverage of Islam. “Media doesn’t cover the realities of Islam at all, it is very soft,” she said. She added that the political Islamist movement in Britain and Europe had engineered a “victim status”, whereby criticism of Islam was being equated to racism against Muslims. “Criticising a belief is not racism, it is not the case that that Muslims are being vilified,” Ms Namazie said.
If there’s one thing that illustrates the problem with the attitudes to Islam to be found in liberal media circles, it’s the fact that a sectarian lunatic like Namazie who represents nothing and nobody is given a platform at an event like this, as if she had something serious to contribute to the debate.
See also Inayat Bunglawala’s post at Comment is Free, 24 August 2007