Monday, June 01, 2020

BBC puts Muslim in charge of religious television shows


Fatima Salaria has been made the new commissioning editor for ethics and religion making her responsible for all the BBC’s religious content, including Songs of Praise. 

Ms Salaria has previously commissioned Muslims Like Us, a reality style show and produced Britain’s Jihadi Brides. 

She was made an assistant commissioner in 2015 during a BBC diversity drive.

Ms Salaria attracted criticism last year for giving Anthony Small a platform on Muslims Like Us. 

The convicted fraudster is now known as Abdul Haqq and was a member of hate preacher Anjem Choudray’s inner circle. 

He has expressed support for Islamic State and was cleared in 2015 of trying to join terror group. 

Previously a series producer for BBC current affairs, Ms Salaria has worked on programmes including including Carols at Kings and An Island Parish as well as series like My Mediterranean with Adrian Chiles.

Discussing the religion strategy for BBC programming on the corporation website, Ms Salaria says: “What I’m really interested in with religious programming is the fact that I want it to reflect the country that we live in.

“So rather than use that big word diverse, what does that actually mean, I basically want to reflect all of the different kind of faiths in this country.” 

According to the latest ONS figures, in 2011 Christianity remained the largest religion with 59.3 per cent of the population identifying themselves as Christian.

In total, 14.1 million people, around a quarter of the population in England and Wales, reported they have no religion in 2011.

More than 100 people complained in 2009 over the BBC’s decision to make Aaqil Ahmed the first Muslim to hold the post of head of religion and ethics, arguing the role should be given to a Christian because it is the UK’s main faith.

Tory MP Bill Cash suggests the role should be rotated between religions.

Muslims made up the second largest religious group with 4.8 per cent of the population of England and Wales.

He said: “We have got a very important situation regarding the sensitive handling of all matters of religion. It is really important that we have a proper balance, and it would appear that this is something that has to be evened out.”

The BBC defended Ms Salaria’s appointment. 

In a statement, the BBC said: “People should be judged by their ability to do the job, not their religious background and Fatima was appointed as she is an extremely talented commissioner - we’ve strengthened our focus on religion and ethics within television and have been clear that we plan to do even more to reflect the role of religion in modern Britain, with Christianity at the heart of our coverage.”

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