The BBC has named a new head of religious programming at the network — someone who caused a stir after featuring an ISIS sympathizer on a reality program she produced.
Fatima Salaria allowed Anthony Small, a British boxer and converted Islamist, a platform on the show Muslims Like Us and defended the choice saying she felt it necessary to hear “authentic voices from a range of backgrounds” so that viewers might “gain fresh insights and not just have their prejudices confirmed.”
Small, who now goes by Abdul Haqq, associated with the radical cleric and ISIS sympathizer Anjem Choudary, according to The Daily Mail, and was arrested and charged with plans to join ISIS and fight in Syria and distributing terrorist materials online. Yet, Salaria said Small represents a “voice” among adherents of Islam.
Salaria is now the second Muslim to hold this position, replacing Aaqil Ahmed who was promoted in 2009. Further highlighting the BBC's questionable choices, as Breitbart noted, Martin Bashir, the former MSNBC anchor who wished someone would “piss” and “sh*t” in Sarah Palin’s mouth, was appointed as the network’s religious affairs correspondent last September.
A professor at the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, Anthony Glees, commented on Salaria's promotion saying, “If a BBC executive makes a programme that is notorious and then the BBC promotes them, it tells me that the BBC has in that area lost its moral compass.”
“People will obviously think that this lady is more sympathetic to extremism and was trying to mainstream it in ‘Muslims Like Us.’
“I thought the programme was deeply offensive to British Muslims as well as anyone else because it implied that an Islamist was a ‘Muslim like us.’
“That programme gained a lot of notoriety, and I find it extraordinary if notoriety is now an essential qualification for a senior role at the BBC. The fact that she is a Muslim is neither here nor there.”
UK viewers complained after Ahmed’s appointment as head of religious programming and argued that a Christian should be in charge since it’s Britain’s primary faith. But the BBC defended its choice:
“People should be judged by their ability to do the job, not their religious background. Fatima was appointed as she is an extremely talented commissioner.
“We’ve strengthened our focus on religion and ethics within television and have been clear that we plan to do even more to reflect the role of religion in modern Britain, with Christianity at the heart of our coverage.”
However, as Breitbart pointed out, there are reports that the BBC is pushing for more coverage of other religions which could include broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer at the start of every weekend.