Anjem Choudary: fury at 'idiot' cleric's BBC Today interview
BBC under fire after radical cleric says PM and UK 'foreign policy' is responsible for Lee Rigby murder
THE BBC is under fire again for giving air time to the radical cleric Anjem Choudary after two self-styled jihadists were convicted of the murder of fusilier Lee Rigby.
When Choudary was invited to appear on the BBC's Newsnight programme in May, he refused to condemn Rigby's murder despite repeated requests by presenter Kirsty Wark, The Guardian reported. His appearance was condemned by several politicians including the faith and communities minister, Baroness Warsi, who said she was "angry" that the BBC had given a forum to "one appalling man who represents nobody".
Choudary was interviewed again on the BBC's Today programme this morning in the wake of the convictions handed down to the soldier's killers Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, yesterday afternoon. Once again, he repeatedly refused to condemn the brutal killing of the 25-year-old.
New Statesman's Sunder Katwala says the BBC made the wrong decision giving Choudary its "prestigious" 8.10am slot. Why? Because the day after the convictions "was not the morning" to give the cleric a platform. Was this really the morning to offer an apologist for murder, and an associate of the murderer, the most prestigious broadcast slot on British radio? asks Katwala. He clearly believes it wasn't.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph's Tom Chivers says giving Choudary air time wasn't "free speech", it was "trolling". The BBC will doubtless say that all voices in the debate should be heard, Chivers writes, an explanation he describes as "nonsense".
"Choudary no more represents mainstream British Muslims that the Westboro Baptist Church represents American Christians," writes Chivers. "He is a fringe voice in a fringe community." Chivers adds: "He [Choudary] is an idiot and a thug, who wants to exploit the horror of Woolwich to make his own fatuous points about British foreign policy."
I'm all for free speech, but inviting Anjem Choudary on the BBC to rant for five minutes the day after Woolwich trial is out of order.
— The G-Man (@_TheGMan) December 20, 2013
Anjem Choudary was on Radio 4? Fairly sure the Muslim community would be horrified to think that he claiming to be a mouthpiece for them...
— Natalie Cox (@natalieScox) December 20, 2013
Choudary told the Today programme's John Humphrys that the "cause" of Rigby's murder was "David Cameron and his foreign policy". He added: "There is a war against our brothers and sisters around the world and I want to change that."
Choudary said his radical views did not mean he acted outside of the law. "I'm not inciting people to do anything, otherwise I'm sure I would be sitting behind bars," he said.
@BBCr4today Why didn't you interview one of the hundreds of young/old Muslims who are working hard to combat violent extremism?
— Baroness Hussein-Ece (@meralhece) December 20, 2013
Paul Waugh, the editor of the PoliticsHome website, tweeted his disgust at the BBC's decision saying: "Can't believe Today prog has lowered itself into giving Anjem Choudary air time".
The Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Carlile, also voiced his disapproval when he appeared on the Today programme after Choudary. He described the cleric as "an outrageously bad influence on young Muslims in this country" and said Choudary "offends the law-abiding Muslim community that is proud to be British".
The BBC invited me to give 'the Muslim perspective' on Lee Rigby case. I didn't feel qualified- if only Anjem Choudary had similar qualms.
— Sarfraz Manzoor (@sarfrazmanzoor) December 20, 2013