As many know BBC Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions’ on a Saturday afternoon is a highly respected ‘Question Time’ style show for radio listeners, with political analysts taking questions from a studio audience.
The quietly formidable Eddie Mair was the chair but instead of the usual balanced debate – that both challenged and informed its listeners – Saturday’s programme felt like a full frontal attack on Islam under the guise of topical debate.
Four of the six questions were directly or indirectly aimed towards Muslims – individuals, religion and a nation – whilst the other two juxtaposed against contentious questions where eminently forgettable. The ‘Any Questions’ team, not satisfied with skewing the debate 2-1 with contentious Muslim themes, placed on their panel to lead the charge the rude and bombastic Islamaphobe, Douglas Murray. His views are well known and well documented. This is a flavour of what Murray is about:.
“It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop…. Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition. We in Europe owe – after all – no special dues to Islam. We owe them no religious holidays, special rights or privileges. From long before we were first attacked it should have been made plain that people who come into Europe are here under our rules and not theirs. There is not an inch of ground to give on this one.”
The BBC, in their wisdom, would say that they balanced the programme by having the reformed extremist Maajid Nawad on the panel which doesn’t make any sense given that he now espouses very moderate views.
The tenor and tone of the programme felt like one of those rhetorically loaded questions such as, ‘Do you still beat your wife?’ in this particular case it might have been: ‘Is there anything decent that comes out of that dreadfully wicked Islamic world?’
Not surprisingly answers to questions around the release of the Libyan Ali al-Megrahi, the proposed Islamic centre close to Ground Zero, and most bitterly nauseating ‘Should we give charity here before we give to the flood stricken people of Pakistan?’ ensured moderate voices on the panel were already on the back foot even before they spoke whilst the zealous Murray was able to spew his bile against a world he desperately loathes.
The sad truth is that we cannot blame Murray. He is what he is: a Melanie Phillips mark 2, but the BBC ‘Any Questions’ team? Shameful. Truly shameful.
By Simon Woolley