I’m sure everyone here will remember the BBC’s official position during the Egyptian democracy protests, before Mubarak (to his eternal credit, in my view) stepped down, which was that the Muslim Brotherhood is, in fact, “moderate”. Frank Gardener was on air several times saying that the group was “moderate”, and Jeremy Bowen even wrote online that the group was both “conservative” and “moderate”, until he got caught and stealth-edited out the “moderate” bit. (I saw the original myself, and made a comment here at the time, but unfortunately did not take a screen shot.)
A reminder of the BBC’s Narrative on the Muslim Brotherhood:
Egypt’s opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has launched its own Facebook-style social networking site.
A senior member of the banned Islamist group says the aim is to spread awareness of moderate Islamic values.
Through the Ikhwanophobia website, the Brotherhood’s sympathisers aggressively attempt to refute criticisms of the group and to show the world what they consider to be “the true face of moderate Islamists”.
The Muslim Brotherhood is vying to become an official party in post-Mubarak Egypt. The conservative Islamist views of some of the group’s members scare many in Egypt and the West, but, as Tim Whewell has been finding out, many members, particularly young activists, are much more moderate.
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that the BBC is not mentioning the Muslim Brotherhood or fundamentalist Islam or their influence on the military in things which detract from the Narrative. I didn’t notice the MB complaining about the following incident. I thought they were advocates of freedom and democracy. Or does the BBC consider this kind of thing to be “moderate”, too?
Egyptian women protesters forced to take ‘virginity tests’
A leading rights group says the Egyptian army arrested, tortured and forced women to take “virginity tests” during protests earlier this month.
Notice that, while the Egyptian Army has been known during the Mubarak regime to crack down on anti-Government agitators, this is entirely different. The BBC, naturally, is placing blame exclusively on the army, and pointing out problems in the past to spin it away, nothing to do with the new changes in attitude. Granted, the sub-editor is essentially copying and pasting from Amnesty’s own website, but that’s no excuse. It’s not Amnesty’s job to inform people about the larger context, but it is – in theory – the BBC’s.
This happened after Mubarak stepped down, not before. It’s a different type of crackdown entirely. Making sure that protesters are virgins is not the same thing as cracking down on protests. This didn’t happen during the anti-Mubarak protests, but only after Egypt’s top brass asked a member of the Muslim Brotherhood to rewrite the country’s laws on personal freedom. Or does the BBC think this is “moderate” behavior as well?