7th January 2002
BBC Radio 4
London W1A 1AA
Re: Interview with Hassan Butt (al-Muhajiroun spokesman in Lahore, Pakistan) broadcast on 7th Jan 2002
We were shocked and surprised by your decision to broadcast the interview with Hassan Butt which we believe will only succeed in further demonising the mainstream British Muslim community which has no time for extremists like Mr Butt. We note that you did also interview Mr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui of the 'Muslim Parliament' but we believe this in no way justified the airtime given to Mr Butt.
As you are doubtless aware, Mr Butt has been making extravagant claims about his activities in Pakistan since October 2001 when the American-led bombing of Afghanistan first began. Mr Butt claimed to have sent 'hundreds' of British Muslims to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban. When prominent figures in the British Muslim community dismissed these figures and demanded he substantiate his claims, Mr Butt failed to do so. Indeed, after the fall of the Taliban, Mr Butt secretly returned to the UK in December 2001 and showed to what extent he despised this material world and was a dedicated 'jihadist' by trying to sell his story to The Mirror for a reputed �100,000.
The BBC as a public service broadcaster must really show more responsibility in the coverage it gives to extreme fringe groups like al-Muhajiroun because we have seen a massive rise in the reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the UK since Sept 11th.
Do you go out of your way to interview extremists from Jewish, Christian and Hindu communities? You will always find someone who has violent opinions but does that mean that ordinary members of those respective faith communities should be made to suffer because of it? I am disturbed at this pattern of 'underhand' attacks on the mainstream Muslims in the UK.
Mr Inayat Bunglawala
The Muslim Council of Britain
cc: Greg Dyke, Director General, BBC