Tuesday, April 01, 2008

More pious mohammedan hagiography from the BBC

As the other occupants of the household rose early and departed for work, Melancholicus lay abed this morning, enjoying a late snooze and listening to BBC Radio 4. This is partly a consequence of end-of-job indolence, since Melancholicus will, upon the expiry of his contract, be leaving the university at the end of this month of April to seek his living elsewhere.

Regular listeners of Radio 4 may be familiar with Woman’s Hour, which is broadcast daily (Mon-Fri) after the news at 10am. Woman’s Hour, as its name implies, is a programme by, for and about women, often with a strongly feminist slant. This morning’s edition was presented by Jenni Murray and included a feature called Women of the Qur’an. This is a serialised item, and this morning’s instalment was on Aisha, one of Muhammad’s many wives and a prominent influence on early Islam.

There was nothing particularly offensive in this feature (although Melancholicus did not listen to it all the way through once he realised it would be a hagiography). The feature was more significant in terms of what was omitted rather than what was included. Nothing offensive to the politically-correct reverence in which the BBC holds Islam was ever mentioned. Muhammad was referred to throughout as ‘The Prophet’, even by Jenni Murray (who is not, to my knowledge, a Muslim). The feature was presented by an academic woman who was herself a Muslim, so we knew straight away there would be no remarks or judgements hostile to the Islamic religion or to pc-orthodoxy. She narrated that somewhat amusing tale of Aisha losing her necklace in the desert, going back alone to look for it, and her empty litter being carried on by the Muslims unaware that she was no longer in it. It was all very charming and homely, which is precisely the effect the BBC wanted to achieve. Aisha was also a strong character, and being Muhammad’s favourite she could carry on with a certain licence not available to other Muslim women. Naturally, being so close to Muhammad, she could exert a considerable influence over the whole community. This portrait of Aisha as the stereotypical ‘strong woman’ likewise enabled the Radio 4 people to feel good about themselves, and allowed them to indulge in the leftist fiction that Islam really doesn’t endorse or encourage violence against women, nor relegate them to the status of chattels under the absolute dominion of their male relatives.

The fact that Muhammad ‘married’ Aisha when she was only six years old and consummated the marriage when she was only nine was of course discreetly omitted. The fact that Muhammad had several other wives (of whom Aisha was merely his favourite) was likewise not mentioned. It is ironic that in a programme devoted to promoting sexual equality as well as the social and political advancement of women, the degraded position of women in Islam should be glossed over so completely. Rather than doing its own research and adopting what should be an impartial approach to women’s lives under Islam, the BBC is instead given to repeating the pious nostrums it has heard from Muslim clerics and Islamic scholars.

It is fashionable in leftist circles to talk about how Islam has somehow “elevated the status of women”, and that Islam is a religion that is good for women. This is of course utter nonsense, and is totally at variance with the facts on the ground. These facts are so obvious that one wonders how they could be overlooked. Even the BBC itself has reported repeatedly on the plight of women in many Islamic countries (and even Muslim women in western countries like Britain), but has so far failed (or refused?) to make the connection between the Islamic religion and the misery in which these women’s lives are spent.

So on today’s edition of Women of the Qur’an, there was no mention of the harsher Qur’anic injunctions against the fairer sex—no mention of the fact that the Qur’an permits a Muslim husband to assault his wife, or that it permits the rape of female captives taken in war, or that it makes divorce a male prerogative, or that it permits a man to take a plurality of wives and have sexual relations with his slave-girls as well.

None of this was even mentioned by the BBC, so the listener might be forgiven for assuming that Islam is a peaceful and benevolent religion that promotes equality and harmony between the sexes. Not for the first time, the BBC has allowed its ideological views to dominate its attitude to the evidence, with the result that its presentation of the Islamic religion is one-sided, deferential, partial and to a certain extent dictated by the leaders and spokesmen of the Muslim community.

Unfavourable coverage of Islam or Muslims is deemed to be ‘racist’. Any evaluation of the current political situation, in which we see young Muslims—even Britons—radicalised by their religion to the point of attending terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and seeking to blow themselves up on the London tube, that attempts critically to study the relationship between their acts and their religion, is strictly off limits. The politically-correct position is that Islam must never be blamed for the misdeeds of its adherents.

Contrast this deferential approach to Islam with the BBC’s hostile treatment of Christianity, in which the Church is lashed—often with generous helpings of satire and mockery—for her teaching on such issues as contraception, abortion and sodomy. Any journalist may adopt this stance with total impunity and be as spiteful and sarcastic as he or she likes, without fear of the slightest rebuke from Broadcasting House.

So much for impartiality, and for standards of professionalism in broadcasting, even at the vastly-overrated BBC.

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