Professor Aaqil Ahmed, above, the first Muslim to hold the post of the BBC’s Head of Religion and Ethics, said that people should admit the ‘uncomfortable’ truth that Islamic State is made up of Muslims and their doctrine is Islamic.
Speaking to students at an event curated by Lapido, the centre for religious literacy in journalism at Huddersfield University, Ahmed said it was wrong to suggest the terrorist group:
Has nothing to do with Islam.
He also responded to criticism of the BBC’s use of the term “so-called Islamic State” in its programming since last year.
I hear so many people say Isis has nothing to do with Islam — of course it has. They are not preaching Judaism. It might be wrong but what they are saying is an ideology based on some form of Islamic doctrine.
They [Islamic State] are Muslims. That is a fact and we have to get our head around some very uncomfortable things. That is where the difficulty comes in for many journalists, because the vast majority of Muslims won’t agree with them.
In January during an interview on Radio 4, David Cameron criticised the BBC’s use of the term “Islamic State” and said Muslim families “hold their heads in despair” when they hear it.
He was speaking after a coalition of imams and organisations representing British Muslims said it wanted everyone from the Prime Minister down to stop referring to the Islamic State as Islamic State.
They demanded that politicians and the media start referring to the Muslim terror group as the “Un-Islamic State”
In a letter sent to Cameron they said:
We do not believe the terror group responsible should be given the credence and standing they seek by styling themselves Islamic State. It is neither Islamic, nor is it a state
Afterwards, Cameron clashed with BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys over the issue. He said:
I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State because it’s not an Islamic state. What it is, is an appalling, barbarous regime … It’s a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims listening to this programme will recoil every time they hear the words Islamic State.
The naming of the terrorist group has been fraught with difficulties for broadcasters, particularly as the replacement name “Daesh” is taken to be derogatory by many Muslims.
Last month Ahmed accused the BBC of neglecting Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs in its religious programming and catering primarily for Christians.
Muslim critics of the corporation have previously suggested that Friday prayers should be televised and there should be more coverage of Eid festival.
Ahmed joined the BBC from Channel 4 in 2009 and commissioned the award winning documentaries Inside The Mind Of A Suicide Bomber and The Qur’an.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn