The BBC has rolled out a prime-time documentary as well as a superabundantly detailed ten-part podcast series on the story of Shamima Begum, whose path to celebrity has been unconventional. She has become the object of the BBC’s lavish affections by fleeing Britain to join the Islamic State (ISIS) at age fifteen, becoming a jihadi bride, showing no remorse for the atrocities of her jihadi friends and colleagues, and being consequently denied the right to return to Britain. As Rolling Stone magazine did with Boston Marathon jihad bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, The Times’ Saturday magazine has published a glamor shot of Begum on its cover to help publicize the BBC series. In the twisted culture of the far Left of which the BBC and Rolling Stone are foremost exponents, an Islamic jihadi who hates his or her home country is a hero, and any action law enforcement authorities take against the jihadi only enhances the warrior of Allah’s victimhood status, and thus in turn only magnifies the jihadi’s celebrity status in the West. Sick? Oh, that’s an understatement.
Neil Davenport observed in Spiked Thursday that “anyone following the past week’s coverage could be forgiven for thinking that Shamima is the victim, rather than the villain of her story. The fact that Begum was a footsoldier of a movement responsible for unspeakable carnage and suffering is treated almost as a footnote. No space, it seems, could be found to give voice to the families whose lives have been destroyed by ISIS killers.”
This notable lack of balance belies the mission statement contained in the BBC’s Royal Charter: “To act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.” Impartial? That ship sailed for the BBC a long, long time ago, but the fascination with Begum demonstrates beyond any lingering doubt that the once-trusted broadcaster has reduced itself to being nothing more than a propaganda arm for the hard Left, which sees any enemy of Britain and the West as an ally and friend.
The BBC insisted that it was not simply offering up a puff piece on Shamima Begum, and would look at her critically, but the very fact that the documentary and podcast series exist at all demonstrates the BBC’s intention: to make British people think positively of Shamima Begum, and get her back into the country. Consider, for comparison’s sake, the fact that the BBC wouldn’t be caught dead featuring a foe of jihad terror in a 10-part podcast or in any sort of treatment at all except an attack piece full of critical quotes from Leftist jihad enablers and Islamic supremacists.
Skeptical? Back in 2013, when Pamela Geller and I were banned from entering Britain for the unforgivable crime, as far as the British elites are concerned, of opposing jihad violence and Sharia oppression of women, I happened to be working very early one morning. I saw the BBC announce on Twitter that it was going to have a show in an hour, about 3AM Pacific time, discussing whether or not Geller and I should indeed be banned from the country.
The “impartial” broadcaster had not, of course, invited either Pamela Geller or me to participate in the discussion, or made any attempt at all to contact either of us. When I tweaked them for this on Twitter that night, however, they were embarrassed, and ended up (no doubt reluctantly) inviting me on after all.
So in the middle of the night, sleepless and without a preparation, I got my one and only chance to defend myself in the British media, and only got that because I caught the BBC out and called them on it publicly. Pamela Geller never got any chance to respond at all. A portion of the show I was on can be heard here; listen to see how the imam the BBC had on to discuss what terrible people Geller and I were was completely unable to answer the points I made about the Qur’an.
But quite aside from anything that was said on that show, the contrast is clear. The BBC loves Shamima Begum and is doing everything it can for her. But those who oppose jihad terror? The BBC doesn’t love so much. There is no BBC documentary or podcast series about anyone in Britain who stands against the cause to which Shamima Begum gave so much of her life. As far as the BBC is concerned, defending Britain as a free society doesn’t make you a hero. Only wanting to see Britain conquered and subjugated gets you the BBC’s star treatment.