BBC apology over Muslim Council slur

Matt Dickinson,Pa
Saturday 30 May 2009 09:33 BST

The BBC said today it had offered an apology to the Muslim Council of Britain after airing claims that the organisation approved of killing British troops.

The comments were made former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore during an edition of Question Time in March.

He was speaking in the wake of Islamic protests which disrupted a UK soldiers' homecoming parade that month.

The BBC has reportedly also offered the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) £30,000 in compensation, but the corporation said no final settlement had yet been been reached.

During the show in question, Mr Moore said: "I've gone to (The MCB) many times, and said, 'Will you condemn the killing and kidnapping of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan?', and they won't.

"Because these wars are in Muslim countries they will not do this. They do one thing that is perfectly understandable - they are opposed to the war. That is perfectly legitimate.

"But there is a bigger step they take...they say it is actually a good thing, even an Islamic thing, to kill or kidnap British soldiers."

The former editor was speaking two days after a homecoming in Luton for the Royal Anglian Regiment was disrupted by an anti-war demonstration featuring vocal Muslim protesters.

They waved placards with slogans including: "Anglian Soldiers: Butchers of Basra" and "Anglian Soldiers: cowards, killers, extremists".

In a statement released today, the BBC said: "Question Time always had a lively and wide-ranging debate.

"On occasion, this results in unfairness to individuals who aren't there to put their view and this is one of those occasions."

According to the Daily Mail, the MCB formally presented a letter of complaint to the BBC after the March broadcast. This resulted in the corporation's offer of apology.

The MCB's secretary general, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari told the paper: "These kinds of statements are very damaging, and we received many complaints from our Muslim supporters who said they were extremely offended by the comments.

"This is accusing us of encouraging terrorism abroad."

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