Monday, 19 November 2007

Taken out of context? (Part 2)

Back in August I blogged that "There was a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary a while back called "Undercover Mosque" which showed several Muslim preachers using rather inflammatory language. You can watch the documentary on You Tube from this page, either in bits or as one piece.

The West Midlands Police investigated the preachers but the Crown Prosecution Service decided that there was no case to answer by the preachers and to instead report Channel 4 to Ofcom over the way the programme was edited. This is clearly a sensitive subject, so before I comment I think you should watch the original programme"

Today we read that "Channel 4 has been vindicated by the media watchdog Ofcom after police complained about an investigative programme that exposed extremism in British mosques. West Midland's police had faced criticism for targeting the producers of the show rather than the controversial preachers depicted in it. Ofcom added fuel to that debate by praising Undercover Mosque as a "legitimate investigation, uncovering matters of important public interest." The watchdog added: "Ofcom found no evidence that the broadcaster had misled the audience or that the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity. "On the evidence (including untransmitted footage and scripts), Ofcom found that the broadcaster had accurately represented the material it had gathered and dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context."...Following today's ruling, the Channel 4 called the police's actions "perverse" and said they had, in some people's eyes, given "legitimacy to people preaching a message of hate"."

The Telegraph report reminds us that "The programme featured undercover recordings from speakers alleged to be homophobic, anti-Semitic, sexist and condemnatory of non-Muslims. Excerpts from preachers and teachers included "Allah created the woman deficient" and "by the age of ten, it becomes an obligation on us to force her (young girls) to wear hijab and if she doesn't wear hijab, we hit her". Other statements included "take that homosexual and throw him off the mountain" and "whoever changes his religion from Al Islam to anything else - kill him in the Islamic state"."

The Telegraph report concludes with the unsurprising news that "Ofcom also rejected the 364 viewers' complaints it received after the programme was broadcast, which it said appeared to be part of a campaign."

You might to want to take a read Media Watch's reporting on Undercover Mosque.

Maybe an apology from Inayat Bunglawala and the other professional Islamist complainers would be in order.

Inayat Bunglawala who wrote this back in January.

Dr Usama Hassan, who is vice-chairman and one of the imams at Masjid al-Tawhid, in August described the police's assessment as entirely accurate. He said: "We have given thousands of hours of positive, wholesome, sensible teaching, teaching people to be good citizens as well as good Muslims. It's egg on their faces for Dispatches and Hardcash. It was a very poor documentary cobbled together in a great hurry, and hopefully they'll learn from it and be more balanced and professional. "We should be able to have honest dialogue and that includes criticism. People should be able to politely make their point. Journalists have to have a sense of responsibility. Things like this can be as dangerous as religious fanatics causing problems.""

Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, Rochdale, in a letter to The Guardian in August welcomed the complaint made by West Midlands Police to Ofcom, thus "We totally condemn Channel 4 for its arrogance in defending this programme, when it was clear to us that the makers had taken contributions out of context and edited speeches. We urge Channel 4 to suspend all the Dispatches programmes immediately so that corrective action can be taken to ensure that this sort of journalism is eliminated. The Ramadhan Foundation has always been very clear that the mosques have an important role in promoting tolerance and peaceful coexistence, but to use these sensitive issues to demonise Muslims shown in the programme is shocking and deeply disturbing. There can be no justification for this kind of journalism. The complaint is total vindication for the Muslim organisations which complained that the Undercover Mosque programme had taken the views of contributors out of context. Channel 4 should apologise immediately for the hurt they have caused those people. Channel 4 has given journalism a bad name and this adds to their failings over the past few months. We will also be urging Ofcom to investigate Channel 4's behaviour."

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