The Other Side of the Cartoon Story

I am sure everyone at Biased BBC would like to say that they’ll make an effort to buy Danish in the light of the Islamic boycott of Denmark (and Norway, apparently). I plan to scout around for some Danish bacon… mmmm.

The BBC’s responsibility to report this news should extend to critically examining whether cartoons should merit an apology, just for depicting a religious icon in an unflattering light. But, even more, they should analyse the phenomenon of hatred based on such a flimsy pretext- for pretext is what it surely is. That’s why I was interested in DFH’s convincing observation about a BBC report using footage which included a fake cartoon of Muhammed as a pig. You’d have thought the BBC might have noticed (because aware of the backstory DFH outlines), and pointed out the fact that many out there are just propagandising. Would it be too much to point out in some way that the raid on the EU building was just a particularly egregious bit of propagandising by a group linked to Fatah, the losers in the Palestinian elections? BBC text report here.

UPDATE 17.45GMT Jan 31st: just a cut n’ paste from DFH this time (same post as linked above, worth revisiting). The BBC are wrong about the cartoons, and thus helping to spread propaganda. By any standards that’s terrible journalism, and a disservice to Europe. There is no Mohammed-as-a-pig cartoon amongst the ones involved in the controversy. Apology time, Beeb? These things can cause riots y’know.

Update 2 pm January 31.Rob Broomby on BBC Radio 4’s PM last night (and well spotted Eammon):

The blue touch paper had been lit by a series of cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in September. One portrayed the Prophet Mohammed with a turban shaped like a time bomb. Another showed him with a face of a pig.’

Wrong Rob. Very wrong. Now let’s have a report which answers these questions:
1.Why are Muslims spreading fake Danish cartoons?
2. Why did the BBC fall for the propaganda?

There is no romance to Ha(mass) killers

Please could someone tell Jim Muir. He doesn’t seem to have a clue. He’s unapologetic about it though.

Look, we’ve had the tears for Arafat episode. How many times does the BBC need to hear that they are notto take sides?

Where to start, where Muir gives us the film-set intro or where he describes the origins of Hamas’ success as being among ‘men of undoubted and bearded piety’?

Right there, I’m angry. Does Muir not know what happened to men who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) grow beard in Afghanistan, another land of men of ‘undoubted and bearded piety’?

According to the BBC’s beloved, Amnesty, ‘Men whose beard or hair length was found not to conform with Taleban regulations were beaten, often with metal cables.’

That’s the piety of radical Islam. It’s only a bad novelist who would pretend otherwise.

But hang on a moment, is Muir implying that the movement was essentially launched through Israeli injustice in the 90’s (a vague backdrop never clearly explained)? He doesn’t bother to mention that the ‘spiritual’ leader Yassin registered it in 1978! Romance, combined with anti-factualism.

Also, against this heroic backdrop, what does it mean to talk about the ‘relatively benign’ Muslim Brotherhood. Relative to what?

And what does it mean, in what time frame, to say ‘as the situation worsened’? There is no reference point for this vaguely described trend. He surely can’t he mean as Bill Clinton bent over backwards to give the Palestinians what they wanted (excepting the destruction of Israel) through the Oslo process?

And, for Muir’s information, sending homicide bombers to kill civilians doesmake them a terrorist organisation, and not just to the eye.

The numerical argument to justify the Palestinians endorsement of this (which, btw, Muir does not acknowledge) is scandalous. Does Muir not realise that there is a crucial difference at work in the calculations- there is no definition of a Palestinian soldier from which to identify civilian deaths? Even Palestinian women and children have been suicide bombers (and I’d be interested to know, by the way, whether the bombers themselves get counted as Palestinian casualties). One theory I hold to is that the Israelis are just far more competent soldiers, so fewer get killed. Furthermore, when Palestinian suicide bombers attack, they go for cafes, buses, the kind of place only civilians are: Israeli military casualties indicate failure due to interception (at least regarding the dominant means of murdering, suicide bombing). The opposite is the case for Israelis offensives against Palestinians, where civilian casualties are a major propaganda defeat. Muir is so uninformative it is quite literally unreal.

There was no justification for a vote for the murderers. That is the only defence the Palestinians have: that of lack of choice. Which makes a mockery of Muir’s last sentence, ‘And many Arab regimes, on which Yasser Arafat modelled his Palestinian set-up, must also be shuddering at the thought of what might happen if real democracy is let loose on them.’

I could go on. A dozen or so brazen lies demand hundreds of points of refutation; that’s the nature of a real lie. But hopefully people in the comments will continue the work. Fisks away! (there’s so much more to say! And thank you, too, because I’m not sure I’d have found this Muir fabrication without comments- especially DFH, whose excellent blog also makes its point).

A ‘Jolly’ poor show for a model query

. A commenter on B-BBC, Thomas, aka Grumpy Troll, has got a result from BBC Newswatch regarding the now more widely known BBC omission of coverage concerning Iran’s condemned-to-death rape victim (please check out the horrific details if you haven’t yet heard about it properly- we’re not talking about something in doubt here)

I notice that Mr Jolly (the BBC Newswatch man who responded) tries to excuse it by saying the story broke over the weekend, and then says effectively that failure to cover a story initially is reason enough for ignoring it permanently. Another interpretation is that the Beeb ignores stories that are presented to it by the online rabble (stories, in other words, that the Beeb are late to, ignorant of and culpable for omitting from their coverage).

It’s preposterous. Whatever happened to ‘the public interest’- or even a young girl’s? The coverage cited by the Newswatch man is just one instance of BBC coverage, five months back, reliant on one of their beloved transnationals, Amnesty, who voice ‘growing concern’. The rest (following links) tends to be generalised, infrequent, involving criticism mostly by proxy – and they turn up their nose at a specific example!

The Beeb’s Newswatch response:


I don’t think we have covered this story and to be honest, there’s no one reason why that’s the case. For one thing it became known on a weekend, and might not not have got picked up as quickly as it might have done during the week. Also, try as we might, it is impossible to cover every story, and we try to avoid running items simply because they have already been covered widely elsewhere.

To be fair, this particular story seems to have been covered largely on blogs and specialists websites, so may never have made it into mainstream media. However, the fact it isn’t running shouldn’t be seen as an act of censorship – we have covered the issue of Iran’s human rights in the past:…ast/ 4184598.stm

I hope that goes some way to answering your question. I’ll pass your
e-mail on to our Middle East editor so he can check what the latest
situation is.

Kind regards,

Ian Jolly

‘In the past’- oh, ok, we only bother with Iran as a kind of academic, history exercise. It’s not like their business is news or anything. And it was the weekend- the three billions of public money just couldn’t cover that

Thomas’s initial comment:

—–Original Message—–

Sent: 24 January 2006 16:06
To: News General Feedback
Subject: Feedback [NewsWatch]

COMMENTS: I am writing to ask why the story of a 17-year-old Iranian girl sentenced to death by hanging for having caused the death of one of her three rapists has seemingly not been covered by BBC News, at least not on the BBC News website.

(Story reported at the following URL:…601081013.htm.)

I would appreciate an answer and do excuse myself should the story have been covered and missed by my searches.

(This blog mentioned the Iranian girl’s case via links to other sites- here and here, the latter post going back to Jan 11th, just a week after the sentence was handed out.)

Two Ways of ‘carrying on the fight’. An interesting contrast

 The BBC report this story about a widow on the campaign trail for Hamas, but not this story of a suicide matron, also on the campaign trail for the terror group. Typical James Reynolds, I have to say. Typical BBC selectivity.

Meanwhile the Beeb are agog with liberal ambition for the post-Sharon era.

A Couple of Items

First, Rottweiler Puppy has taken up the story of the Beeb’s failings over Iran, and produced a very good post on the subject on his new site. It’s ironic in the light of this that the BBC is reporting experiencing Persian censorship. Why, when they’re doing such a good job (for the Mullahs)? Maybe it’s a case of treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen (just like the women).

The second notable thing I have to mention is the Beeb’s surprise that people are actually optimistic in Iraq and Afghanistan– much more so than those in, say, France, for example, which is only topped in the pessimism stakes by Bob Mugabe’s unhappy citizens (those still around to give their opinions). As Zooblogger says, the explanation is that ‘Them Beebs are out of touch with reality’ (link supplied by jim-jams media)

“The Badly in Need of a Humorous Re-Write, Department”

If the American expat can be sarcy, so can I. Or am I just being mean in seeing this as both prurient and irrelevant? Against Islam, indeed. Like, duh! Surely they’re just trawling for Google hits with titles like ‘Malaysian Naked Squats Condemned’. Ooh er missus. Now we know the secret of those millions of daily hits… Or, er, maybe I am…

Oh well, at least they’re not guilty of ingrained witlessness like Fox News. (thanks comments- yes, I puked too)

Actually, Mr Mosey seems a bit of a prat for another reason entirely (aside from his absurd generalisation that the entire elite of the British media – C4, Paxman, the entire BBC blah blah … anyone he missed out?… can be said to be anti-herd- dummy, they are the herd, of course they are. It’s all so Greg Dyke). At the moment where I am it’s -13 degrees and dropping* (outside, I can assure you I’m nice and cosy with my slippers on in here. No pajamas though), while Mr Mosey, playing to disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells, is suggesting that talk of a cold winter was nonsense (I speak as a Grantham boy, so Mr Mosey’s anecdote roused some thoughts from me). Well, for a slice off the coast of Europe, maybe (fantastic and delicious slice though it is). For much of Central-Eastern Europe the scenery’s been like something from Dr Zhivago, with occasional thaws just to bring home the general frozenness abounding.

*weather figures courtesy of ever-changing BBConline weather, with commonsense added.

Rapid Update: It’s all clear to me now: the Malaysia story must be part of what Tessa Jowell calls a “strong and distinctive schedule” (justifying a strong and distinctive tax). Can’t wait for the documentary…

Israel Alone or The Grand Coalition?

I make no apologies for comparing a Fox News report with a BBC one. The success of Fox speaks for itself, and as Peter C. Glover argues, it’s about time we saw something similar in the UK.

But one of the biggest slanders going today is that Israel is an aggressor, a source of trouble, an arrogant ungrateful unilateral go-it-alone bully.

So I think that a responsible media outlet would look carefully and be wary of reinforcing that impression (which any sane person must see is extremely far-fetched).

That’s why I really didn’t like this article from the BBC, because, for an article concerning an international issue like Iran’s nuclear program, it’s all about Israel.

The contrast I said I’d offer was with this Fox News article:

Yes the lede is about Israel, but the headline indicates the multilateral approach that is in fact taking place. We all know about Chirac’s threat this week to use nuclear weapons to retaliate against a terrorist state- Fox also points out the German Defence Minister’s avowal that “Yes, we need all options.”.

So what we can see from Fox that we can’t from the BBC is that Israel isn’t in fact out of step, that the precisely stated Israeli position is consistent with everyone else’s precisely stated position within the concerned western alliance. It’s obvious there is a concerted effort going on- that is the news, rather than Israelis on the warpath.

Of course, if I were pro-mullah Iranian I would want the headlines to be all about Israel. There’s enough anti-Israeli feeling out there to fuel a pacifist movement towards Iran if Israel is seen to be the cause of an impending war. Not only that, Israel has both a track record (Osirak ’81) and is widely considered the most imminent realistic threat, militarily-speaking, so any pressure that could be applied to her through the media would be welcome.

But I’m not Iranian, and I don’t like the BBC adopting the talking points of the Iranian leadership. In allowing Israel to be in the foreground, and similarly worried (though less directly threatened) nations to fade into the background, the BBC wittingly or unwittingly wields the spotlight for Iranian security.

Obsessing on Death Row

Scott Callahan has put together a detailed post that’s right up this blog’s street. He compares the BBC’s approach to the death penalty in the US and China- and finds a stark contrast.

Just over a week ago I did a similar thing in relation to the BBC’s coverage of the Iranian death penalty- though not as well – on my own blog. The point is that whichever way you cut it, the Beeb basically gives alien cultures a free pass for being alien (playing up every sign of decency, downplaying every barbarism), whereas they feel free to run the USA into the ground over its penal code.