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Coptic Christian Journalist Discriminated Against at BBC Arabic by Muslims

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On October 19, 2013 @ 3:07 pm In The Point | 8 Comments

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?


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