Coptic Christian Journalist Discriminated Against at BBC Arabic by Muslims


At least the BBC is as consistent in its employment practices as it is in its reporting.

Said Shehata, 43, claims that he suffered “discrimination, victimisation and unfair treatment” from his managers and editors as a result of his religion.

He brought his case after missing out on a permanent job as a senior broadcast journalist at BBC Arabic, the oldest and largest of the Corporation’s non-English language services, while nine Muslim colleagues were chosen.

The successful candidates included an employee who was responsible for a television news bulletin that wrongly announced the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez two months before he actually died, the hearing in central London was told.

Mr Shehata claimed that one editor told him he could not talk about Islamic movements on BBC Arabic because he was a Christian.

He said he had lost about £10,000 a year in salary since 2008 by not being made a senior broadcast journalist.

“It was a clear discrimination against me because I am a Coptic Christian,” he said in a witness statement.

Senior manager Saleem Patka, who is of Indian origin, admitted to the tribunal that he had used his Islamic faith to explain his suitability for the job despite his lack of suitable linguistic ability when he became the “Near East hub editor” in charge of BBC Arabic, BBC Persian and BBC Turkish.

“I mentioned that although I couldn’t speak Arabic, being of a Muslim background I felt that I had a good understanding of Middle Eastern culture, and Islamic culture in particular,” he said.

Mr Couri said that Mr Shehata was denied the job because he had weaknesses in his editorial judgment and his Arabic language ability, not because he was a Christian.

Shehata is Egyptian. How could his Arabic language skills be worse than an Indian Muslim?

  • Elizabeth capecod

    When critics point out how intolerant Islam is, the proof is everywhere!

    • objectivefactsmatter

      Tolerance is a relative term. They tolerate Muslims more than non-Muslims. That’s tolerance; Islamic tolerance. Just not what Westerners imagine. Although not a whole lot unlike leftist tolerance.

  • N. Wasse

    This does not surprise me in the least. Indian Muslims and Pakistanis are real Arab wannabes and they have no shame and they are liars after all would I, let us say accept a postion in Urdu service of the BBC when I have no command of Urdu? The clueless Brits at the BBC want to to be politically correct so they would hire an Arab wannabe believing that they know Arabic, They also do not realize that millions of Arabic speaking people in the Middle East are Christians. But some how these clueless Brits at the BBC seem to believe that by hiring these Arab wannabes from India and Pakistan (and they are a a dime a dozen in England) they are pleasing their Arab audience so why are we surprised? and this is more reason that the BBC is losing its credibility as a news organization

    The BBC even has what I call their Muhajabba (she who wears hijab) in residence in their English service and her name is Shimaa Khalil and she is also from Egypt and she is a big time fake whose command of the English language is terrible

    But the funny thing here is Muslim Arabs have no like for Indian or Pakistani Muslims and they call them names the likes of “the poor ones from India” which I understand is an insult in Arabic and they would rather hire or believe an Arabic speaking Christian and in this case a Copt before they would believe an Arab wannabe be it from India or Pakistan

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Sure. Arabs have contempt for Pakistanis.

      • N. Wasse

        I do not have any doubt in my mind that Pakistanis are more Muslims that even Sheikh al-Azhar himself and still the Arabs do not like them and I really do not know why and what is most amazing is that the Arabs in Saudi Arabia and the gulf they would rather hire a westerner or a Christian Arab before they would hire an Indian Muslim or a Pakistani but do we ever hear from them complaining that the Arabs must be guilty of Pakistani-phobia? No and they go back for more abuse by their Arab masters. I really have no respect for them

        • Biff Henderson

          I prefer the descriptive Arabite than Arab wannabe. Arab supremacists are so arrogant that they spit on the idiots that buy into it what they’re selling.

  • N. Wasse

    Hi Daniel

    I wish that you check the little sob story that I heard on NPR’s “On the Media” and their producer’s Sara Abd el-Rahman little sob story about crossing the border from Canada to the US at Niagara Falls and a second car full of her Muslim friends at Windsor Detroit crossing and how the bad folks at DHS were and I’m not kidding you Islamophobes and here is the link

    It seems that the occupants of both cars were heading back to the US after attending a wedding in Toronto and that the women in the cars including Sarah were wearing hijabs

    The whole story is bizarre and i do not believe her for a minute. I hope that you find out what really happened

  • Saleem Patka

    Can I suggest you read the full report in the Daily Telegraph from which the above article has been taken. It might give you a clearer idea of both sides of the story.

    Thank you