The BBC really should try harder.
Think about it.
The BBC uses a Islamophile journalist (who nearly always writes on Muslim-related issues) to do a piece on whether or not Islam is a religion of peace. Indeed her articles and broadcasts are very sympathetic to both Islam and Muslims.
And guess what Sima Kotecha discovered. Yes, that's right: she discovered that Islam truly is “a religion of peace and love”. Well I never!
Would the BBC have used a member of the the BNP to do a report on whether or not BNP supporters are “racist” or “fascist”? Of course it wouldn't!
On the issues of Islam and Muslims, the BBC doesn't even attempt to hide its bias. In fact the BBC (as a whole or editorially) simply takes it for granted that Islam is the religion of peace... and love. Thus it also believes that all Muslim terrorists, bombers, killers, etc. “distort”/“misinterpret” Islam (or whatever soundbite is available at the time).
This BBC's News UK piece is called 'Most British Muslims “oppose Muhammed cartoons reprisals”'. The survey/poll was also heavily featured on Radio 4's Today programme . (That also featured Sima Kotecha.)
Now isn't that an interesting use of the word 'reprisal'? The political activist and writer for the Guardian, Salma Yaqoob, also called the London train and bus bombings of 2005 “reprisal attacks”. (They killed 52 people and injured 700 more.) Clearly, many - or even most - Muslims deem each and every act of Islamic violence to either be “defensive” or to be a reprisal/revenge for some non-Muslim misdeed or other.
What's more, Sima Kotecha has done this kind of thing before. Another article - called Niqabs vs. the West – also comments on a Kotecha piece of positive spin on a different - seemingly negative - poll taken of Muslim attitudes.
And here's a further taster of the kind of subjects Sima Kotecha likes to cover.
In this Internet link she can be found protesting about the imprisonment of (Muslim Brotherhood?) journalists in Egypt, writing about Gaza, Iraq, the Islamisation of British schools and so on. In addition there is Kotecha's report for the Today programme called 'British Muslims react to Charlie Hebdo attack'. The writings of Sima Kotecha are also featured here in the website Islamist Watch. She's also been a reporter in Afghanistan and interviewed members of al-Qaeda.
Islam is a Religion of Peace & Love
Sima Kotecha informs us that “Islam is a religion of peace and love - not violence”.
Later, Kotecha quotes a Bradford College student (one of her many student interviewees), a Musmil Afik, who also informs us that “Islam is about peace, love and harmony”.
Should a BBC reporter - even if a Muslim - really be coming out with such general statements? Surely this is the kind of thing you'd expect from a college wannabe journalist. (Sima Kotecha is 35.)
Over and above the mindless generality of what Sima Kotecha says, the survey itself shows us that many Muslims don't actually believe that Islam “is a religion of peace and love” at all. They believe it's a religion, to use Kotecha's word, of “violence”.
The poll, for example, tells us that 33 out of a 100 Muslims surveyed believe that violence against what Muslims call “blasphemers” is justified. It also tells us that “27% of the 1,000 Muslims polled by ComRes said they had some sympathy for the motives behind the Paris attacks”. The survey also claims that “11% feel sympathy for people who want to fight against western interests”.
Yet in Sima Kotecha's “analysis” (the BBC's term) of the poll, she manages to ignore all this. Instead she offers us the official line on Islam. In other words, she doesn't interview or question any Bradfordian members of George Galloway's Respect party, militant imams, Islamist students or any supporters of Islamic terrorism.
The Poll Itself
The poll itself was carried out between 26 January and 20 February 2015.
One question which needs to be asked is: What is the relation between the Corporate Reputation (ComRes) organisation (which carried out the poll) and the BBC?
What is clear is that Kotecha's summary moves way beyond the results of the ComRes poll.
Kotecha seems to have only interviewed students in her report. This is strange since this isn't from a BBC news piece for young people.
Anyway, we're told by the BBC that “[o]ne thousand Muslims were polled as part of our survey”. The BBC also says that this “number statistically representative of the population of close to three million Muslims in Britain”. (It doesn't tell us why the poll is “statistically representative”.)
Only 1000 Muslims were questioned. That small number of Muslims might have been selected to provoke the kind of responses the BBC and ComRes hoped to hear. (That is certainly true of Sima Kotecha's own interviews; if not the poll itself.) Indeed, as I said, it seems that most of the respondents were students and young people.
What we're not told is the precise wording of all the questions which Bradford's Muslims were asked. That is a very important question when it comes to questionnaires and surveys like this. The ComRes organisation itself doesn't tell us what the questions were (as can be seen in this link). However, it does tell us what its 'methodology' was at the time:
“ComRes interviewed 1,000 Muslims living in Britain aged 18+ by telephone between 26th January and 20th February.”
It also sells it sells itself as “the leading research consultancy specialising in Corporate Reputation, Public Policy and Communications”.
|The BBC's Sima Kotecha & Mishal Husain protesting about the imprisonment of Egyptian (Muslim Brotherhood?) journalists.|
As everyone knows, there are “lies, damn lies and statistics”.
Stats can be used to sell almost any political position or stance. This poll - or at least Sima Kotecha's summary of it - is a classic case.
Almost every cited stat in this survey seems to be designed to put British Muslims in a positive light.
For example, the survey tells us that 93% of the Muslims questioned “feel a loyalty to Britain”. What the hell does that mean? (It's so vague.) What, exactly, was the question that elicited that response?
Of course this all depends on which aspects of Britain Muslims feel loyal too.
For example, I bet that Muslims do indeed feel very “loyal” to Britain's extreme tolerance of all Muslim behaviour. Are they loyal to the “diversity” that is Islam (as Muz Khan, on Kotecha's Twitter page, puts it)?
Note also the phrasing of this statement:
“Muslim clerics who preach that violence against the West can be justified are out of touch with mainstream [Muslim] opinion - 49% [of Muslims] agree.”
That could just as easily have been written this way:
Muslim clerics who preach that violence against the West can be justified are out of touch with mainstream opinion – 51% of Muslims disagree.
Now note the phrasing of this statement:
“ComRes poll for BBC said that two-thirds of respondents said acts of violence against those who published such images could never be justified.”
That means that one of of every three Muslims surveyed (not one out of all Muslims in the UK) believes that violence is justified against blasphemers.
The thing is, I don't think that the BBC and Sima Kotecha have really thought through the consequences of their own statistics.
Let's agree that the Muslims surveyed are “representative of the known [Muslim] population” (as ComRes puts it).
That means that two Muslims in six and three Muslims in nine believe in violence against blasphemers. Put that another way: 33 of the 100 Muslims surveyed by the BBC believe that violence is justified against people who publish anti-Islamic images.
That would mean that if that percentage were applied to 10,000 British Muslims (rather than ComRes's 1000), there would be 3,300 Muslim extremists amongst them.
So now let's jump to 100,000 Muslims. In this case there would be 33,333 Muslim extremists amongst 100,000 Muslims.
That's a very large number of Muslims who believe in Islamic violence.
And this reasoning can also be applied to the “27% of the 1,000 Muslims polled by ComRes said they had some sympathy for the motives behind the Paris attacks”; as well as to the “11% feel sympathy for people who want to fight against western interests”. Again, this is only 27% and 11% of 1000 Muslims – not of all British Muslims.
Think of the possible equivalent case of 33 out of 100 white British people believing that violence against blacks and Asians (simply because of the colour of their skin) is justified; or 27% of Ukip supporters sympathising with the actions of Anders Breivik.