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The BBC and the Muslim Brotherhood

12:44 PM, Mar 11, 2011 • By MICHAEL WEISS
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Revealingly, the BBC has been more or less silent in recent days on Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief cleric who returned to Egypt after Mubarak’s departure and gave a Friday sermon in Cairo the other week to a crowd of hundreds of thousands. The BBC’s live blog on February 18 cited Qaradawi a few times, mostly in relation to what other commentators were saying about him. Ironically, one reference was a recycled tweet by Shadi Hamid of the Brooking Institution’s Doha Centre, which read, “Can't wait for western coverage of qaradawi's return: ‘Khomeini redux,’” surely not characteristic of the BBC’s coverage. On the whole, there was just one BBC news story published about the rally and it fleetingly described Qaradawi as “influential,” quoting his desire to see the Egyptian army “liberate us from the government that Mubarak formed.” No mention here of his hosanna to “liberate Palestine” or that his “influential” status has been somewhat complicated by his well-documented remarks about the Holocaust (God’s divine justice against the Jews), homosexuals (worthy of being killed) or suicide bombings in Israel (he’s for them). This elision was especially odd considering that Qaradawi was banned from England for inciting violence after he told Newsnight in 2004 that “an Israeli woman is not like women in our societies, because she is a soldier. I consider this type of martyrdom operation as an evidence of God’s justice.”

Given that the BBC has exposed the Brotherhood’s extremism in its broadcast programming, it’s remarkable that the BBC online editors remain wedded to a policy of presenting the organization in its own preferred terms. 

Michael Weiss is the executive director of Just Journalism, a London-based think tank that monitors the British media's coverage of Israel and the Middle East.

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