Wednesday, February 08, 2012

BBC tells journalists to stop calling Abu Qatada 'an extremist' - and they can't show pictures of him looking fat either (but we can, so here he is!)

BBC journalists have been told not to call hate preacher Abu Qatada an 'extremist'.

Using such a term to describe the man once called 'Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe', is making a 'value judgment' and should be avoided, bosses have said.

The corporation’s managers have insisted he should be described as 'radical', according to meeting notes seen by the Telegraph.

Journalists were also advised not to use images that suggest the preacher is overweight, the paper says.

Dangerous: BBC bosses have discouraged staff from describing Abu Qatada as an extremist. They have also been told to avoid using pictures of him in which he looks fat
Dangerous: BBC bosses have discouraged staff from describing Abu Qatada as an extremist. They have also been told to avoid using pictures of him in which he looks fat

Earlier this week an immigration judge ruled that the Muslim preacher - who former Home Secretary David Blunkett described as 'extraordinarily dangerous' - should be released from jail.

Despite Home Secretary Theresa May's insistence that 'the right place for a terrorist is in a prison cell', he is expected to walk free from Long Lartin high security prison in Worcestershire on Monday.


    Abu Qatada 'has not committed any crime' and we cannot blame European human rights for his release, Ken Clarke has said.
    The Justice Secretary said it was a British judge who granted him bail, and it did not have 'anything to do with the European Court'.
    Speaking at the Oldie magazine awards in central London, Mr Clarke told The Daily Telegraph: 'I don’t think it has anything to do with the European Court, it is a question of how long you can detain someone who is not accused of committing a crime and no body intends to charge him with anything.'
    Qatada is wanted in Jordan to stand trial for his alleged involvement in a Millennium bomb plot.
    Even his defence team has suggested he poses a 'grave risk' to national security.

    Despite this, BBC journalists were told they should avoided calling Qatada an extremist.

    The guidance was issued at the BBC newsroom’s 9.00am editorial meeting yesterday, chaired by a senior manager, Andrew Roy.

    According to notes of the meeting, seen by The Daily Telegraph, journalists were told: 'Do not call him an extremist – we must call him a radical. Extremist implies a value judgment.'

    The guidance has been met with criticism from MPs and experts.

    Maajid Nawaz of counter-extremist think-tank Quilliam, says the BBC has 'liberal paralysis' over Islamic extremism, adding that journalists have to be honest about Qatada’s record.

    He told Mail Online: 'A radical is someone who is different from the norm. An extremist is someone who promotes extreme views and actions, like killing innocents.'

    Conservative MP James Clappison, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: 'Given the evidence about this man, it makes you wonder what you have to do for the BBC to call you an extremist.'

    BBC staff were also advised not to use library images that show the cleric looking overweight, because he has 'lost a lot of weight'.

    A BBC spokesman told Mail Online: 'It is not uncommon for us to discuss how we cover stories impartially and we always think very carefully about the language we use.

    'We do not ban words -  the notes are a reflection of a live editorial discussion about how to report the latest developments on this story.

    'In terms of pictures, as with any story, this is a reminder to use the most up-to-date photos for accuracy.'

    The guidance comes after the BBC warned journalists to try to avoid using the word 'terrorist' after the July 7 bombings in 2005.

    In an advisory memo sent to all BBC journalists, the Corporation said that 'terrorist' is politically loaded and should be used only 'sparingly'.

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