Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Aaqil Ahmed – can a Muslim be head of BBC’s religious broadcasting?

In a nation which (according to the last census) is 72 per cent Christian, and which (according to parliamentary statute) has a state broadcaster financed by a compulsory taxation upon this religious majority, is it right and proper that a Muslim (which, according to the last census, constitute two per cent of the nation) might be appointed the BBC’s new head of commissioning for its re-structured Religion & Ethics Department?

When the Religion Editor of The Daily Telegraph reported that Aaqil Ahmed was favourite for this post, all purgatory broke loose.

It wasn’t hell, for that would have been ‘racist’. But it was certainly – how shall Cranmer put it – not received warmly by The Barclay Telegraph. Mr Pitcher (or the Reverend George) is persuaded that this appointment is pivotal and will determine whether or not the BBC ‘takes religion seriously’.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has already met with the corporation’s Director General Mark Thompson, a Roman Catholic, to express his concern that the BBC – the state broadcaster – should not downplay or marginalise Christianity – the state religion.

As the Reverend George observes: Mr Thompson ‘may have taken the view that no prelate was going to dictate the BBC’s religious policy to him and the silly old fool needed to be taught a lesson’. And so Mr Thompson decided to appoint a Muslim to affirm the Archbishop’s support for shari’a law.

Aaqil Ahmed is presently commissioning editor for religion at Channel 4. He is highly qualified, suitably experienced, and by all accounts consummately professional. But the Reverend George states on the one hand that ‘an agnostic or atheist might bring an interesting objectivity to religious broadcasting. And so might a Muslim to Christianity’. But on the other hand he is persuaded Mr Ahmed ‘shouldn’t have the job because I doubt he is up to it’.

The Reverend George is desperate to avoid an accusation of ‘Islamophobia’, and is fence-sitting, like all Anglicans for The Telegraph are compelled to do. He is quite right to observe ‘you don’t have to be a footballer to be a football commentator’, but you certainly have to have a passion for it, to live and breathe it, to believe in it as a worthwhile pursuit. The Reverend George thinks Mr Ahmed should not have the job simply because ‘his work to date seems lightweight’. Some might say that of the Reverend George. He cites the C4 programme ‘Christianity: A History’ as evidence of Mr Ahmed’s religious ineptitude. It was, he asserts, ‘a showcase of dumbed-down religion, a History of Platitudes’.

Cranmer agrees that that particular series was ‘banal’. But he would like to ask his readers and communicants to consider what has become of the BBC’s Christian output while a Christian (Methodist) has led religious broadcasting and while a Christian (Roman Catholic) has been the corporation’s Director General.

The marginalisation of the state religion has been systemic and inexorable. It is not only that ‘Jerry Springer - the Opera’ was broadcast on their watch, but a Sikh was appointed to produce ‘Songs of Praise’, minority faiths are treated more respectfully than that of the majority, an atheist has been appointed to the board which oversees religious output, and the Church of England has been sidelined to the point of irrelevance. The corporation has been guilty of religious cleansing on a scale comparable with that of the Balkans. The BBC’s spiritual war machine has reduced Christianity to a harmless and toothless myth which can do nothing but suck at the pervasive ecumenical pantheism which genuflects ever so slightly to Islam. Under ‘Christian’ leadership, the BBC has become a secular humanist organisation which now propagates its own objective worldview through its own biased history and its own version of truth. It has a self-styled mission to inculcate the ignorant masses with the Gaia spirituality of the New Age, and it has embraced the pseudo-gospel of environmentalism to that end.

If religious broadcasting under ‘Christians’ has become such a secular joke, why should a Muslim not be given a chance to redeem the situation?

He might even prove to be more respectful of Christianity, the Bible and Jesus than the ‘Christians’ have hitherto been. He might feel compelled to make some hard-hitting programmes about the Islamic world – the treatment of Muslim women, the persecution of non-Muslims, the human rights breaches, the destruction of churches, the cleansing of Christians from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Israel...

With reports that an Aaqil Ahmed ‘dossier’ has been compiled, the contents of which will be disseminated in the event of his appointment, there is more than a hint of anti-Muslim prejudice in some of the reporting on this story. Minority bashing is unacceptable (as unacceptable as minority-favouring). An Asian Muslim is just as capable of making religious programmes about Christianity as a Caucasian Christian is about Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or the Jedi Knight fraternity.

Why on earth should a Muslim head of commissioning for religion be any more unacceptable that a Roman Catholic director general?


Anonymous anon 2 said...

So there we are. Now we have the ABBBC [Anything-But...]

I think it's time Christians showed a bit of solidarity and refused to underwrite this farce. After all: its news is either untrue or a distraction from what the euros (our enemies) are up to; opinions are all obsessive or propaganda; programmes are lightweight and poor quality, or about all these foreign invaders who've decided that they're English and British and we're not!

I don't have a TV. There must be a way to refuse the radio license as well. That way they can pollute the channels till their debates drive them crazier than ever. But I needn't pay for it.

Oh - and I also refuse treatment from them in hospitals; and service from them in shops. They can scream racist 'til the cows come home: the issue's not race, or even religion. It's about colonization, and degradation of the colonized people.

22 April 2009 at 08:31  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

This is not about anti-Muslim prejudice.

A Muslim, Sikh, Jew or Hindu cannot with conviction impress the values of the state religion through the BBC.

Christianity is deeply offensive to a Muslim. Merely to say to a Muslim that Jesus is the Son of God – is to light the blue touch paper – stand back – and wait for the explosion.

You cannot expect a Muslim to project through programming the values of the Christian religion – to invite him to do so would (or should) offend his conscience.

22 April 2009 at 08:38  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The BBC has certain obligations predicated upon its status as a public corporation - most people think that means it reflects the culture of the United Kingdom - however it sees itself as an elitist organisaton in tune with the Zeitgeist.

There is a problem when elites get too far out of touch with those funding the circus as the political parties are discovering and since the BBC is part of the political elite - do see where BBC Strategy Directors move between Whitehall and Broadcasting House - irrespective of party. it would do well to reflect on Disraeli's adage that "the palace is not safe when the cottage is not happy"

Appoint a Muslim as Head of Religious Broadcasting and dump down Songs of Praise into a folk concert, but do not expect to continue to receive taxpayer funds by extortion....cocking too many snooks at those who pay the piper can be very painful indeed

22 April 2009 at 09:10  
Anonymous Duh.... said...

anon 2 said

"I don't have a TV. There must be a way to refuse the radio license as well. That way they can pollute the channels till their debates drive them crazier than ever. But I needn't pay for it."

There isn't a radio license. So, if you don't have a TV, and therefore don't pay the TV license, then you're done.....

22 April 2009 at 09:44  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Is anybody surprised? It's just the sort of thing the BBC would do.

Now with digital television coming in, there is absolutely no excuse for not having pay-per-view. When it comes I would prefer to pay by the second, so if I dont like the programme, I can turn off.

That will be the end of the BBC as a monopoly and then they can do what they like, but not with my money.

By the way Your Grace, Simon Heffer in the DT praises your soul-mate Henry VIII for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Well we can all do with a good laugh....

22 April 2009 at 09:47  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
The title of the job says nothing about being Christian, for decades this country has been allowed to slip into the secular soup we now find ourselves in, the Archbishop of Canterbury is a Druid, the Queen is a citizen of the EU & the heir to the throne is a new ager who wants to be defender of faiths. Is it any wonder the country is in the state it's in. Our leaders & those responsible have sold us out to any Tom, Dick or Harry who walks in the door. Not only that but they have turned their back on God, the God who says " I am the truth" thus embracing a lie. Our only hope is to turn back, preach the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ & repent before God & ask His forgiveness. Only then do we have any hope of surviving. All true disciles of Jesus Christ should now be ready to obey His commands & work in the harvest fields while their is still time.

22 April 2009 at 10:22  
Anonymous len said...

Why we, the longsuffering British public have to finance this organisation ( the BBC) is beyond me.
This organisation cannot be financially viable or it would be able to stand on its own two feet.
Who`s views is the BBC expressing?

As Preacher says christians need to preach the truth that is Jesus Christ because there is a spiritual battle to silence the christian voice.

22 April 2009 at 13:35  
Blogger Demetrius said...

The BBC should stay away from religion, full stop. And the license fee should go as well. Let it become a subscription based set of channels for purposes other than religion.

22 April 2009 at 15:05  
Blogger Microcosm said...

The Bill of Rights should come into play here, the system needs reigning in by our Constitutional Laws.

Albert Burgess in his talk at Stoke, earlier this year, towards the end in a question and answer session, suggests that we only need to hang three politicians.

Maybe your Grace or communicants could suggest the three.

Its not that Minority bashing or Minority favouring is right or wrong, the Marxist ideology of a Minority Status is wrong.

22 April 2009 at 15:11  
Anonymous Sydneysider said...

The worst of it is having to pay for a radio and tv license... now that really is unchristian....even we don't have that..and the Pope said that Australia was the most irreligious, secular country in the world!

22 April 2009 at 16:12  
Blogger The Half-Blood Welshman said...

"He might even prove to be more respectful of Christianity, the Bible and Jesus than the ‘Christians’ have hitherto been."

Well let's face it, Your Grace, he could hardly be less respectful...

22 April 2009 at 17:49  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

22 April 2009 at 19:01  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr McKenzie,

His Grace has been musing your last sentence. It is an offensive and unworthy comment.

There are a very great many perfectly rational and utterly nice Muslims in this country - some of whom despise aspects of Islam (if not in its entirety) and even call themselves 'secular'. They do not attend mosques, and repudiate any association with an oppressive religio-political construct. There is a generational shift going on: quite possibly the vast majority of teenage British Muslims have little time for the practices or beliefs of their parents and certainly not their grandparents.

Of course, the media has little interest in informing you of this.

His Grace understands that perhaps you are not acquainted with any such. But he respectfully asks that you consider retracting the final sentence of your last comment.

22 April 2009 at 19:14  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

22 April 2009 at 22:49  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr McKenzie,

His Grace has no wish to delete it - although he does not agree with it - for he is not overly censorious. He asks you to consider that your Christian witness, if it be, is hardly enhanced by such a comment. Do you believe that Jesus would declare that the only good Muslim is a dead one? Did he not exhort you to love even your enemies? Are you not bound to obey his command, or do you conveniently set it aside where Muslims are concerned? Why did Jesus not proclaim you message to the equivalent of his day - that the only good Samaritan is a dead one?

Christianity is nothing if it is not based upon love. That may occasionally speak forcefully and even offensively, but it never hates to the point of wishing death upon a child of God.

22 April 2009 at 22:58  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

22 April 2009 at 23:15  
Blogger Wrinkled Weasel said...

Years ago I met the Head of Religious Broadcasting with a view to commissioning a series of programmes. He was supposedly a Christian, which at the time, I doubted very much.

This story comes under the banner of my "political correctness will east itself" theory.

If someone with sincerely held and profoundly dogmatic religious views is appointed, sooner or later all the gays at the BBC are going to have their wrists put out of joint by a man whose religion forbids homosexuality.

They cannot have it both ways. Either get somebody who believes nothing (which hitherto has been the case generally)and carry on with a great BBC Religion tradition of glop with an extra helping of saccharin or get someone who means business and watch the meltdown.

I can't wait!

23 April 2009 at 01:32  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

A Roman Catholic director general is probably more unacceptable than
a Muslim head of commissioning.Catholics are the only minority group specifically legislated against (the Act of Settlement) in the UK and historically perceived as the greatest threat.Also the religion is far too dogmatic and not designed for populist pandering.The appointment of an Anglican would be the most appropriate choice as Anglicans seem generally amenable to almost anything.

23 April 2009 at 05:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As every single posting is deleted when I indicate that I am on the other side of the Atlantic reading your blog, I expect that the same will happen this time. Still, I have hope.

Reading this latest news sends a shudder down my back. A Muslim in charge of religious programming is not just a threat to the heritage of Great Britain, it sends precisely the wrong signal to the Muslim umma. It will be interpreted as yet more proof that Allah, working through history, is transforming the world. Are the leaders of the BBC so naive that they do not understand the consequences of their decision?

I fear for Britain these days. Your government and a large portion of your political/cultural/social elite seems to be sleepwalking toward disaster.

23 April 2009 at 11:53  
Blogger POLIS said...

Brilliant post. The epitomy of Liberalism.

15 May 2009 at 16:06  

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