Ms Lorraine Heggessey,
6th January 2004
Dear Ms Heggessey,
For some time now, many British Muslims have been deeply troubled about why the BBC continues to employ Robert Kilroy-Silk in any capacity, let alone in such a high profile position as the morning chat show host on BBC1. It is truly galling to see an Islamophobic presenter like Kilroy enriching himself over a number of years courtesy of a publicly funded body such as the BBC.
Kilroy-Silk is � as you must know - a man who positively revels in airing his anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views. We wonder whether you would consider it proper to give the same kind of prominence to a presenter who was so openly anti-black or anti-Jewish?
Kilroy-Silk writes a weekly column for the Express on Sunday in which he often gives vent to his bigoted and ill-informed ideas about what is happening in the world. In last Sunday�s paper he surpassed all his previous efforts and produced a hysterically gratuitous anti-Arab rant.
As you can see in the following extract (�We Owe The Arabs Nothing�) from the Express on Sunday (4th January 2004), Kilroy-Silk appears unable (or unwilling) to distinguish between the terrorists who perpetrated the Sept 11 atrocities and the ordinary Arab peoples who constitute a population of over 200 million.
�We're told that the Arabs loathe us. Really?� What do they think we feel about them? That we adore them for the way they murdered more than 3,000 civilians on September 11� That we admire them for the cold-blooded killings in Mombasa, Yemen and elsewhere? That we admire them for being suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women-repressors?�
Note that Kilroy doesn�t attack the actions of a particular few � but �the Arabs� as a whole. This seems to be a clear case of indiscriminate generalisation and as such, blatantly racist. The Press Council upheld a complaint against The Sun for publishing similar comments about �the Arabs� in 1987.
Kilroy also displays a lamentable grasp of geography and history:
�The Arab world has not exactly earned our respect, has it? Iran is a vile, terrorist-supporting regime - part of the axis of evil. So is the Saddam Hussein-supporting Syria. So is Libya. Indeed, most of them chant support for Saddam.�
Iran is a largely Farsi-speaking country (not Arab) and heir to an enormously rich civilisation. Kilroy�s dismissive remarks Iran and the Arab world are not untypical of the arrogant way he treats anything to do with Islam or Muslims.
In addition, the Iraqi and Syrian regimes have for decades actually been bitter rivals in the region as each country�s branch of the Ba�th party tried to project itself as the leader of the Arab world. Moreover, the majority of the Arab public has never hidden its disdain for Saddam Hussein and his brutal rule.
There has been a lot of comment in the press recently about journalists and commentators employed by the BBC who bring the corporation into disrepute by writing opinionated pieces in newspapers. The Muslim Council of Britain considers Kilroy�s remarks quoted above to be ignorant, extremely derogatory and indisputably racist.
In the BBC�s Producer�s Guidelines, your Chairman, Greg Dyke says �Our audiences rightly expect the highest�ethical standards from the BBC�values such as impartiality, accuracy, fairness, editorial independence and our commitment to appropriate standards of taste and decency� We hope you will agree that Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk has fallen far short of these values and standards.
We now urge the BBC to take urgent and appropriate action on this extremely serious matter to reassure the Muslim and Arab communities in Britain and abroad that the BBC will not in any way accept the contemptible demonisation of entire peoples.
Certainly, if the word �Jews� was substituted for �Arabs� in the Kilroy quotes above it seems to us that the BBC would not tolerate any delay before it took substantive action against Kilroy.
For your information, the Muslim Council of Britain is also writing to the Press Complaints Commission about Kilroy�s article.
Mr Iqbal Sacranie,
The Muslim Council of Britain
London E15 1NT
Cc: Greg Dyke, Director-General, BBC Alison Sharman, Controller, BBC Daytime Television
Original Kilroy article, Express on Sunday, 4th January 2004
We owe Arabs nothing.
WE ARE told by some of the more hysterical critics of the war on terror that "it is destroying the Arab world". So? Should w e be worried about that? Shouldn't the destruction of the despotic, barbarous and corrupt Arab states and their replacement by democratic governments be a war aim? After all, the Arab countries are not exactly shining examples of civilisation, are they? Few of them make much contribution to the w elfare of the rest of the world. Indeed, apart from oil - which was discovered, is produced and is paid for by the West - what do they contribute? Can you think of anything? A nything really useful? Anything really valuable? Something we really need, could not do without? No, nor can I. Indeed, the Arab countries put together export less than Finland.
We're told that the Arabs loathe us. Really? For liberating the Iraqis? For subsidising the lifestyles of people in Egypt and Jordan, to name but two, for giving them vast amounts of aid? For providing them w ith science, medicine, technology and all the other benefits of the West? They should go down on their knees and thank God for the munificence of the United States. What do they think we feel about them? That we adore them for the w ay they murdered more than 3,000 civilians on September 11 and then danced in the hot, dusty streets to celebrate the murders?
That we admire them for the cold-blooded killings in Mombasa, Y emen and elsewhere? That we admire them for being suicide bombers, limb-amputators, womenrepressors? I don't think the Arab states should start a debate about what is really loathsome.
But why, in any case, should we be concerned that they feel angry and loathe us? The Arab world has not exactly earned our respect, has it? Iran is a vile, terrorist-supporting regime - part of the axis of evil. So is the Saddam Hussein-supporting Syria. So is Libya. Indeed, most of them chant support for Saddam.
That is to say they support an evil dictator who has gassed hundreds of thousands of their fellow Arabs and tortured and murdered thousands more. How can they do this and expect our respect?
Why do they imagine that only they can feel anger, call people loathsome? It is the equivalent of all the European nations coming out in support of Hitler the moment he was attacked by the US, because he was European, despite the fact that he was attempting to exterminate the Jews - and Arabs.
Moreover, the people who claim we are loathsome are currently threatening our civilian populations with chemical and biological weapons. They are promising to let suicide bombers loose in Western and American cities. They are trying to terrorise us, disrupt our lives.
And then they expect us to be careful of their sensibilities? We have thousands of asylum seekers from Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries living happily in this country on social security.
This shows what their own people think of the Arab regimes, doesn't it? There is not one single British asylum seeker in any Arab country. That says it all about which country deserves the epithet loathsome. GEORGE GALLOWAY, the member of parliament for Baghdad Central, as his tormentors describe him, called the British and American troops "wolves" and called for the Arab countries to rise up and fight them and to cut off oil from the combatants. Later he called upon British troops to refuse to obey "illegal orders".He has, predictably, been vilified. His comments have been termed a disgrace, disgusting, outrageous and so on.
He has been called a loony, naive, gullible and a traitor. There have been demands that George's constituency party should deselect him, that his constituents should not vote for him at the next general election, and that he should be deported to Iraq. No one, as yet, has demanded that he be put in the stocks or burnt at the stake, though no doubt this will come.
But why all the fuss? Why is everyone getting into such an excitable lather over the predictable remarks of a no-mark?
Who with any sense cares an Iraqi dinar for what dear George thinks? Like Clare Short, George is a licensed court jester. He acts the buffoon while she's the straight part of the act, though she exaggerates her sanctimonious seriousness.
Neither are taken seriously. Both are totally discredited laughing stocks that add to the variety of political life. At least George is open, honest and sincere.
(c) Copyright Express Newspapers 2004 The Express on Sunday