CAIRO - Angry comments have whipped the BBC after hosting the leader of the English Defence League in an interview, accusing the news portal of giving unchallenged anti-Muslim comments that have poisoned the air.
That interview did not constitute scrutiny. Unchallenged lies and hatred poison our national debateâ¦, Polly Billington, Labour candidate for Thurrock, wrote on Twitter, the Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday, June 11.
This did not clear the air. It poisoned it
Hosted by the Radio 4's Today program, EDL leader Tommy Robinson admitted that the group's tactics are questionable.
Our tactics are completely questionable, yes, but what choice do we have as working class people? he asked.
But he denied responsibility for reprisal attacks on Muslims in the wake of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich.
Robinson, who has a number of convictions for violence, claimed that his group were not involved in any such activities.
He also denied claims his group had firebombed an Islamic community centre in London, where the letters EDL were sprayed on the building.
He told the BBC the graffiti could have been placed there to make it look as if the group was responsible.
Yet, the far-right leader used his interview to set out vision for Britain, stating that he would ban extremists recruiting in the streets, Shari`ah law, halal meat, and the building of new mosques.
"I'd stop the building of mosques in this country until Islam reforms in such a way and works in this country with Western democracy and freedom," he added.
The EDL, a far-right group that emerged in 2009, has held numerous protests against what it calls Islamic extremism in Britain.
Far-right groups like the EDL and the British National Party (BNP) are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.
In November 2010, British police warned that the anti-Muslim demonstration by the EDL fuel extremism and harm social cohesion in Britain, which is home to nearly 2.7 million Muslims.
Platform For Lies
Immediately after the end of the interview, hundreds took to social networking sites to complain that the BBC allowed the EDL leader to spout lies, racism & anti-Muslim sentiment to millions without being seriously challenged.
"Now Today provides non-critical platform for EDL. Has she [Montague] ever seen them close up? Heard their racist insults? Violence threats?" Former Labour MP Denis McShane said on Twitter, The Guardian reported.
"Sorry forgot EDL is a gentle, peace loving, outfit. Everytime I saw fascist thugs screaming abuse at non white citizens it wasn't EDL."
Al-Jazeera presenter and Huffington Post political director Mehdi Hasan also criticized the BBC's decision to give Robinson a platform without counterbalancing discussion of his own background.
"EDL leader claims to be a peaceful protester on the Today programme. No mention of his own history of violent behavior on air," he said
The Mirror's political commentator Kevin Maguire also criticized the BBC.
"Woeful @BBCr4today interview with convicted footie hoolie Stephen Lennon aka EDL's Tommy Robinson. He'll laugh all the way to next EDL brawl."
Other Twitter critics, including Louise Hutchins, said the interview was "irresponsible soft soap".
Labor councilor Kevin Peel asked: Why on earth is the disgusting leader of the EDL being allowed to spout lies, racism & anti-Muslim sentiment to millions on #r4today?!
Kasaf Chaudhry added: Every time the #BBC give the EDL unchallenged airtime they help legitimize them. Useless interview this morning on #bbcr4today
Hostility against British Muslims has been on the rise since the machete attack, which Muslims condemned as running against the basic Islamic teachings.
Some 212 anti-Muslim incidents have been reported since the May 22 killing, according to Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim attacks in Britain.
The figure included 11 attacks on mosques, in a series manifestation of anti-Muslim sentiments.
Britain is home of a Muslim community of nearly 2.7 million.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net