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BBC’s latest report on Leicester: A grudging acceptance of the truth while attempting to save Islamists all over again

At best, the BBC has shifted from totally blaming Hindus for the violence to essentially saying that they don't know who started the violence. However, they are continuing to shield the Islamists of Leicester while tacitly throwing the victims - Hindus - under the bus.

The Hindu community in the UK, particularly in Leicester and Birmingham, was under attack by the Islamists. What initially appeared to be a clash between the two communities following the T20 match between India and Pakistan turned out to be a well-planned and well-organized attack on Hindus, their homes, businesses, and properties in Leicester. After that, there have been multiple spates of attacks against Hindus in Leicester, fuelled by the misinformation spread by Islamists, even Al Qaeda and ISIS supporters like Majid Freeman.

While Hindus have been living in fear, BBC – UK’s state media – has been busy blaming Hindus for the violence committed by Islamists. Recently, however, they attempted to do a tacit u-turn by reporting that there is no evidence that the violence was started by Hindus. While BBC acknowledged this fact grudgingly, there were subtle hints that showed the intention of BBC, where they continued to whitewash the Jihadi elements who instigated violence against Hindus.

In a recent report titled “Did misinformation fan the flames in Leicester?”, BBC said, “Some people link the disorder and the reaction to it to the Hindutva ideology. They believe that Indian politics is being imported to the city, but thus far the BBC has found no direct link to such groups in the run-up to the disorder”.

Report by BBC on Leicester
Report by BBC on Leicester

After days of trying to push the narrative that Hindus were responsible for the violence while using Hindutva as a euphemism, this seems to be the best acknowledgement that we can possibly get from BBC that Hindus did not initiate the violence in Leicester and that it was indeed the Islamists who went on a rampage against Hindus.

While BBC acknowledged this fact in a watered-down manner, it is interesting to note that even after “investigating” the violence, the BBC also could not find any evidence to support the FACT that it was the Muslim community of Leicester that had started the violence. In fact, BBC was so fearful of mentioning certain facts that are corroborated by video evidence, that it failed to even mention the Muslim community. Right after the para where they admitted, as much as they could, that the violence was not initiated by the Hindu community, they wrote the following para:

“Another narrative being pushed is that a particular, small South Asian community, allegedly with conservative views, started these tensions. Both Hindus and Muslims we’ve spoken to have expressed this. Again, there is no concrete evidence to support, nor counter this claim. It is difficult to pinpoint what has caused this violent unrest, but one thing is clear, social media stands accused of being the catalyst for sowing further divisions”.

BBC claims that there is a theory that a “small South Asian community with conservative views” started the tension. Allegedly, BBC says that Hindus and Muslims both attested to this but there is no evidence to back this claim. Now, which community is BBC talking about? Logic dictates that BBC is saying that the Islamist community – basically radicalised Muslims – started the violence according to locals, however, they have not mentioned which community they are talking about. Further, it is even more problematic that despite video evidence, BBC could not establish how the radicalised Muslim community started the violence.

In this report itself, which is being touted as a “neutral” retelling of events by BBC, the UK state media does admit that there was a string of misinformation spread by Islamists. Naming ISIS and Al Qaeda supporter Majid Freeman, BBC says that he was the one who spread the fake news about a Muslim girl being kidnapped by a Hindu man. The BBC further admitted that there was other fake news also spread like a London coach carrying Hindus from outside Leicester to create violence. That news was also fake. OpIndia had earlier reported that the London Coach owner had debunked the news, saying that his coaches were not even in Leicester on the days of the violence. BBC writes:

A video that circulated on WhatsApp and Twitter from 18 September showed a coach outside a Hindu temple in London, with a voice claiming the coach had just returned from Leicester. In a video posted the next day on Instagram the owner of the coach company said: “lots of people are calling me, threatening me, abusing me without any reason.” He said that none of his coaches had travelled to Leicester in the past two months and provided evidence from the GPS tracker of the bus in the video showing it had remained in south-east England on the weekend of 17-18 September.

However, while talking about such dangerous false information spread by Islamists, BBC tried to shamelessly monkey balance by blaming Hindus for misinformation as well – this, without any proof whatsoever.

While talking about the temple in Leicester being desecrated and the flag being pulled down (they fail to mention that one flag was also set on fire), they almost insinuate that it could have been a Hindu who desecrated the flag – since they say that the identity of the person who pulled the flag down hasn’t been ascertained yet.

Report by BBC on Leicester
Report by BBC on Leicester

While monkey balancing and falsely blaming Hindus, the BBC also shows sleight of hand in trying to shield the Islamists who spread fake news against Hindus, ultimately instigating violence against them. When talking about a post where a Twitter handle was spreading misinformation about a temple being implicated, BBC masks the identity of the Twitter handle.

Report by BBC on Leicester

OpIndia managed to find the original post and it was published by a handle called @aart123. The fake news tweet is still published and for some inexplicable reason, BBC decided to shield the identity of the handle.

If one goes through the handle, it has furthered and amplified every single fake news targeting the Hindu community – it has constantly retweeted Majid Freeman, and furthered the hateful videos of Mohammad Hijab and other Islamists. Why BBC felt the need to hide the account’s identity is unknown – save for the fact that BBC perhaps wanted to protect those who spread hatred against Hindus. An archived version of his Twitter timeline as of 26th September can be accessed here.

Further, to soften the effect of Islamists targeting Hindus, BBC brands Al Qaeda and ISIS supporter Majid Freeman as a “community activist”, without giving their readers context about his problematic and Islamist antecedents. A profile of the fake news he spread and his ISIS/Al Qaeda links can be read here.

Report by BBC on Leicester
Report by BBC on Leicester

BBC bemoans that Hindus in Leicester were supported by Hindus in India

The central aim of the article was to talk about misinformation, however, there were several other elements that show the true intent of BBC. First, they watered down the misinformation spread by Islamists by monkey balancing and blaming Hindus for an act committed by Islamists. Then, they also bemoaned how Hindus from India had extended their unquestioning support to the Hindus of Leicester.

In their report, the BBC basically says that they analysed 200,000 tweets in English that used certain hashtags about Hindus being under attack and that over 50% of these tweets came from India. They then call this “manipulation of the hashtags” insinuating that the Hindu support from India somehow worsened the violence in Leicester.

Report by BBC on Leicester

They also bemoan the fact that 11 out of the 30 top URLs shared to talk about Leicester violence were OpIndia links. One of the articles they cite is where OpIndia wrote about the investigation by Charlotte Littlewood, the Henry Jackson Society fellow, saying that several Hindu families had fled Leicester due to fear of Islamist violence. They write about how the police denied these reports, however, Littlewood has stood by her investigation – something that BBC fails to mention.

BBC, as the state media, is not predisposed to ask tough questions to Leicester police, however, simply because the Police are not aware of families leaving Leicester, or so they claim, does not mean that the investigation of a journalist is false.

Further, it is almost comical that BBC is concerned about support for Hindus emanating from India. One wonders if BBC thought that Hindus of Leicester should not be supported by their own community, a majority of whom lives in India.

Essentially, a report that is being touted as “fair and neutral” by BBC, is yet another attempt to demonise the Hindu community and slyly save the Muslim community that fanned the violence in Leicester where Hindus were targeted.

Interestingly, not too long ago, BBC had summarily blamed the Hindus for the violence in Leicester. On 23rd of September, when Hindus were just reeling from the barbarity heaped on them, BBC had this to say:

Earlier report by BBC

At best, the BBC has shifted from totally blaming Hindus for the violence to essentially saying that they don’t know who started the violence. However, they are continuing to shield the Islamists of Leicester while tacitly throwing the victims – Hindus – under the bus. It is also pertinent to note that the BBC has not offered any apology or retraction of their previous reports where they falsely blamed Hindus for Islamists going on a rampage against the community.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Nupur J Sharma
Nupur J Sharma
Editor-in-Chief, OpIndia.

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