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Secret liaisons?

Husain Husaini | 14:59 UK time, Tuesday, 27 November 2007

It's the kind of thing that would make some suspect a conspiracy.

BBC Asian Network logoAs our colleagues at Newsbeat were working up their story about MI6 (Rod blogged about it here yesterday), the Asian Network's reporter, Anna Cunningham, was interviewing two officers at MI5.

But as far as we can tell, MI5 and MI6 had not been liaising over the their public relations strategy.

After some detailed negotiations, Anna went into Thames House to meet two officers, Jayshree and Shazad. We assume they aren't their real names but we can't know for sure. They talked about their work and motivations. They were clearly passionate and committed to their jobs, believing that they were working for the good of the country. They spoke about how the July 7th attacks on London's public transport system convinced them of the value of what they were doing. We weren't allowed to ask them about MI5 policy but they did reject suggestions that they targeted Muslims. They told us they only focussed on individuals who they believed to be a threat.

Our audience reacted strongly to the story. We asked on our phone-in programme with Nihal, "would you join the security services?" Most callers, e-mailers and texters said no.

One said, "anyone who joined the security services is a 'coconut' and untrustworthy." Another said that, "after Iraq it would be impossible to expect a British Muslim to help the security services." Even on the other side there was some scepticism, "I would join the secret services - the best way to correct a system is 2 become part of it".

It seems obvious that MI5 agreed to the Asian Network request for an interview - amongst the many they must get - because they feel the need to recruit more British Asians. If what our audience tell us is anything to go by, they still have plenty more work to do.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 09:00 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Nick Mallory wrote:

"One said, "anyone who joined the security services is a 'coconut' and untrustworthy." Another said that, "after Iraq it would be impossible to expect a British Muslim to help the security services." Even on the other side there was some scepticism, "I would join the secret services - the best way to correct a system is 2 become part of it".

And yet any suggestion that there's a problem with the national loyalty of Britain's muslim community is Islamaphobia, right?

  • 2.
  • At 04:00 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • John wrote:

Did you or your interviewer challenge the use of racist language such as 'coconut'? If not, aren't you in breach of BBC guidance?

I note that by the end of your comments you are refering to 'british asians' - I would be interested to see if the same anti-UK comments would be forthcoming if you interviewed british-hindu, or british-chinese citizens. To suggest that all 'asians' are the same is an inaccurate stereotyope and it is unfortunate that decent, hardworking people should be associated with the worrying opinions of one, less successful, ethnic group.

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