Panorama's Ware hits back at 'hysterical' claims of bias

By Caitlin Pike

Panorama journalist John Ware has described as “hysterical” the
reaction from the Muslim Council of Britain and some commentators to
his programme broadcast on Sunday.

The programme, “A Question of Leadership”, alleged that the Muslim
Council of Britain is ignoring racism, sectarianism and extremist views
promoted by some of its 400 affiliates. The MCB has called for a public
apology from the BBC.

Madeleine Bunting, writing in The Guardian
on Monday, said she thought that Ware, along with reporting of the
programme in The Observer during the past two weeks, was part of “a
campaign being orchestrated through the media to destroy credibility of
the most important Muslim institutions in Britain, including the MCB”.
Bunting went on to accuse Ware of “entering a new era of McCarthyism”.

Ware told Press Gazette he was particularly alarmed by Bunting’s article as well as the reaction from the MCB.

“The
reaction from the MCB and some Muslim commentators was hysterical and
disproportionate,” he said. “I think it was sadly symptomatic of the
way that some Muslim organisations react when a bright light is shone
on them.”

Ware added that he wanted to make clear the programme
was attempting to show the extent to which racism and sectarianism are
tolerated by the MCB.

“Rather than being so defensive, you would expect the MCB to address the points raised in the programme.

Madeleine
Bunting, writing in The Guardian, was in a league of her own,
illustrating in my view a de factoalliance that some sections of the
left are forging with less tolerant sections of conservative Islamism,
an alliance that concerns not just me, but a number of people at
Guardian Newspapers.

“For the MCB to suggest that we are part of
a Zionist lobby is risible. I have had many telephone calls and text
messages from Muslim leaders saying that what was said needed to be
said.”

The MCB said in a statement: “John Ware’s programme makes
a pretence of being impartial and nowhere is this more clearly
displayed than in the section about the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

A
BBC spokeswoman told Press Gazette: “Sunday’s programme was a timely
contribution which reflected the widespread debate taking place within
Muslim communities. After the bombing attacks on London, many within
the Muslim community here in Britain announced that it was now
important to deal head on with the issues that may have helped motivate
young British Muslim men to attack their fellow citizens. The questions
that Sunday’s Panorama examined are being raised by members of the
Muslim community themselves.”

She added that Panorama rejected any allegation of institutional or programme bias.

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