MCB demands BBC apology

Flooded by a torrent of support e-mails and messages from Muslims and non-Muslims, Britain’s biggest Muslim group demanded the BBC Tuesday, August 23, investigate and apologize for a “dishonest” piece of journalism made by the broadcaster on the respectable Muslim organization.

“Today, we sent a formal letter to the BBC with a point-by-point response to the Panorama program, demanding an investigation into the dishonest and distorted piece of journalism and a clear apology,” Inayat Bunglawala, media officer of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), told by telephone. “It is a calm and factual letter about the distortions in Panorama,” he added. “The BBC must apologize not only to the MCB but to all British Muslims.”

The program was broadcast Sunday night, August 21, entitled “A Question Of Leadership.” It suggested the MCB is “in denial” about extremist views among its members. The BBC program quoted former MCB member Mehboob Kantharia as saying the MCB was unwilling to accept the reality of the situation and therefore unable to deal with the issue in hand. But when contacted by the MCB, Kantharia said his statements were taken out of context.

“We have spoken with Mr. Kantharia, who asserted to us that he did not mention the MCB by name but his remarks were edited by the BBC to create suspicions about the MCB,” Bunglawala told IOL.

Earlier, MCB Secretary General Sir Iqbal Sacranie said in a statement e-mailed to IOL that the program was “deeply unfair”. He said the program used “deliberately garbled quotes in an attempt to malign the Muslim Council of Britain and with the barely concealed goal of drawing British Muslims away from being inspired in their political beliefs and actions by the faith of Islam.”

After Sunday’s broadcast, the MCB has received a torrent of support e-mails and messages from across the UK, denouncing the program for tarnishing its image, Bunglawala said.

“It has the opposite effect to what the Panorama team and the pro-Israeli lobby intended to do,” he said. “Instead of dividing British Muslims, it brought about an unprecedented unity and even Muslim organizations that have been critical of the MCB in the past like Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamic Human Rights Commission have issued statements of support on their Web sites.”

Islam Online, 23 August 2005

For the MCB’s letter to the BBC, see (pdf) here.