BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

Smelling the coffee

Jamie Angus Jamie Angus | 16:11 UK time, Friday, 22 September 2006

So just how do you get Abu Izzadeen, the man who loudly heckled the home secretary at a speech on Wednesday, to appear on the Today Programme? And should he even have been on in the first place?

The Today programme logoToday reporter Zubeida Malik has had some dealings with the firebrand protester in the past, and when she finally caught up with him on Thursday afternoon, she was able to persuade him that an 0810 encounter with John Humphrys would be the best way to ensure that his motives for making the protest were heard and scrutinised.

Of course, that's just the beginning of the story... there was an editorial judgement to be made both about whether he should appear in the first place, and if so where in the programme. The Today team discussed some of these issues and decided that this was an 0810 interview, not least because the kind of views Izzadeen holds are exactly those that Reid was seeking to confront in his speech.

Abu Izzadeen, pictured heckling the home secretary earlier this weekThere is a powerful argument to be made that presenting the most extreme voices on air actually damages the process of integrating the Muslim community into the fight against terrorism. The BBC has a duty to balance voices, and to present a representative range of views from within communities. A number of listeners were quick to remind us on e-mail of the damage we were risking:

"He is a nobody. Don't give air to these people: it doesn't help our perception of muslims, it can only be damaging."

But others disagreed: "The young man you spoke to was understandably very angry - he made a lot of points which I think we should be listening to. All John Humphrys could say was 'If you don't like it here, why don't you leave?' The young man said more than once that he loves Britain, but that he hates the way his people are being treated, and warning that if things don't change, there will be an eruption which we will have difficulty dealing with. Instead of reviling him and ignoring his message, perhaps we should listen to him and his people and see how to find a way to coexist."

We have in recent weeks set up an interview panel of young Muslims, precisely to counter the bias towards established and known Muslim voices on our output. They'll be on the programme on Saturday morning and we'll be asking them what they made of what they heard (and you can hear their first outing here).

Izzadeen and his companion were polite in person... confident and boisterous, and he came off air believing that the interview (which you can hear here) had not overly taxed him, and indeed that some of John's questions were ill-framed. An argument about whether Muslims who found themselves completely at odds with the rule of law here should move to Saudi Arabia was, he felt, more worthy of the white van driver than the BBC.

And thanks to an eagle-eyed staff member, we managed to avoid a potentially awkward green room meeting between Izzadeen and that morning's Thought for the Day guest, Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks. Would they have found some common ground over the soggy croissants? Some things I feel are beyond even BBC patisserie.


  • 1.
  • At 05:47 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Seurat wrote:

Why was it imperative to keep Izzadeen and Sachs apart?

Did you expect one to attack the other?

Seems like bizarre behaviour for the multicultural BBC to employ.

  • 2.
  • At 07:40 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Karen wrote:

I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Abu Izzadeen. He spoke clearly and passionately, explaining his views in relation to his beliefs. How many Christians would be able to do so well? He withstood John Humphrys' trademark hectoring with logical and coherent argument. JH appeared to be losing his cool whereas Abu Izzadeen remained above some of the sillier questions - including the one about leaving the country.

A good editorial decision.

  • 3.
  • At 08:31 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Jim wrote:

Heckling an MP and then getting interviewed on Today, is democracy in action, Although PM would have been a better forum, Edie Mair gets more out of these encounters than Humphrys who allways runs straight down the tracks and into the buffers. Also I agree with the previous poster.

  • 4.
  • At 10:33 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Al wrote:

Bizarre indeed. Perhaps at the BBC you think this is all a game? Your provocative (and false) reporting of the Pope's views last week seems to suggest so.

  • 5.
  • At 10:39 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • archie wrote:

If you can't trust him in the same room as the chief rabbi, why do you think he is a suitable person to be allowed on air ?

  • 6.
  • At 10:43 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Oliver wrote:

I found the interview very interesting but not enjoyable - much in the same way Ian Paisley used to sound from Northern Ireland.
Full marks to John Humphreys for his interviewing - not an easy one, but he did very well.
I appreciate the editorial decisions involved - worth putting in Today, but not every day!

  • 7.
  • At 10:57 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Bilal Patel wrote:

I found Simpson's questions patronising and offensive. Why does everything have to boil down to 'If you don't like it here then why don't you go to Saudi Arabia?'. Surely if someone has the freedom of speech, then they are entitled to disagree without being told that they should leave if they don't like it. Such questions underly a racist assumption that Muslims aren't really British. Would Simpson have asked a white Briton the same question? I doubt it very much. Izzadeen was at least refreshing and honest, and I think he spoke for the silent majority of Muslims when he told Reid where to go. Let's have more like him please.

Very few people get the better of Humphreys, yet Izzadeen gave as good as he got. And I doubt that Izzadeen has been subjected to the vast amounts of media training that our elected politicians have. I wish Humphreys had let him finish his sentence about how he loved Britain. That would have been much more illuminating.

If we have to tolerate the daily claptrap of 'thought for the day' with no right of reply, much more offensive than the views of Izzadeen.

And Humphreys' "If you don't like it here, why don't you leave?" was worthy of Nick Griffin. He should be ashamed of himself.

  • 9.
  • At 11:08 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Heidi Webster-Thomas wrote:

Agreed! Surely one of the ways to sorting out some of the problems we face today is to communicate and share ideas, something the BBC should be familiar with. It may be uncomfortable and involve taking a risk, but the alternative is so much worse.

  • 10.
  • At 11:09 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Adrian Bailey wrote:

I agree - keeping the two men apart, and then writing about the incident in this way, is patronising. But then what do we expect the BBC to be, if not patronising?

  • 11.
  • At 11:30 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Jim Poole wrote:

Total hypocracy from the BBC. If you think back to the 1980's when you used an actors voice every time Gerry Adams had something to say, obviously heavily edited for broadcast. Yet you allow "Trevor" to have his Anti-English rant and pro-terrorism viewpoint on air.

If Trevor does not like our laws, our ways or our religion, he should jump on a plane to the nearest country which practices Muslim law and see how he would be treated if he shouted down one of their officials.

  • 12.
  • At 11:34 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Robert J. Sutherland wrote:

I agree with other posters. I'm sure it was well intentioned, but I don't see why it should have been necessary to keep these two interviewees apart. I didn't hear what either said or how they said it, and might not have agreed with either of them if I had, but I don't see why the BBC should presume that they are not both civilised people who don't know how to be polite to each other over a breakfast croissant, even if they do agree about nothing!

  • 13.
  • At 11:35 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Hamish Whittle wrote:

It's been a long time since we've heard a proper grade A nutter on th 8.10 slot on the today programme. The trouble with people lke this is that you cannot have a rational argument with them; everything is "God's will" , human choices, democratic processes, the rule of law, none of these mean anything to zealots who are convinced that they are engaged in some divine mission.The sheer effrontery of him in asserting the supremacy of a foreign and medieval theology over constitional and, more importantly rational, methods of governance reminded me of the Christian fanatics in America who want to outlaw the teaching of evolution in schools.

"We have in recent weeks set up an interview panel of young Muslims, precisely to counter the bias towards established and known Muslim voices on our output."

You're going to make an effort to unearth the most loathsome ranting demagogues in order to put them on the radio and the television. Presumably you once had a panel to determine which Muslim voices were established and known. Do you have to keep the members of the old panel apart from the members of the new panel, to prevent one lot from attacking the other? Who chooses who to put on the panel, and what incentive do the panellists have? Do they choose themselves, or each other?

Six months from now, will you establish a further panel to counter bias towards the less established and less known Muslim voices that you have discovered? What will happen when the less established and less known Muslim voices become more known and more established? Will you establish a secret panel to ensure that the new panel does not succumb to extremism? Do you have a whiteboard that ranks Muslim voices on a graph with "established" along the bottom and "well-known" along the side?

Is "boisterous" to right word to use, to describe Abu Izzadeen? Dennis the Menace is boisterous. Abu Izzadeen is rather more than that.

I thought the interview was very good, probably more so from Abu Izzadeen point of view. John Humphrey's questions were to me typical of how Mr Izzadeen viewpoint is misunderstood by the wider media ( but he was right to ask them as he did as it showed this gap - especially the questions about Democracy vs Mr Izzadeen's view of his actions being justified by Islam alone which he saw as his sole authority. )

The next question is how widespread is Mr Izzadeens view on Islam being the sole authority and law ? (Maybe your panel will answer that question - at least in part. )

The scale and nature of the challenge to our society will become apparent from the answer to that question.

Well done - and I don't say that to the BBC too often.

  • 16.
  • At 11:46 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Peter W wrote:

Hmm. Problem here.

I certainly agree that the BBC has a duty to ensure that dissenting voices are heard. It's the only way to ensure that 'fringe' views move into the mainstream. I cite feminists, environmentalists, South African nationalists and Northern Irish Catholics, all of whom have gained 'respectability' and a supportive audience through the BBC's scrupulous respect for 'balance'.

This has been achieved notwithstanding Establishment attempts to prevent it (examples were the Thatcher government's blatant - and unsuccessful - attempts to censor pro-ANC and Irish nationalist voices on the BBC).

Abu Izzadeen is another inflammatory and, to many, unwelcome voice. John Humphrys was unusually ill-prepared for his arguments. "If you don't like it, leave", is not a considered response likely to promote intelligent debate.

A better format might have been a Naughtie, moderating neutrally a discussion between two extremists - Izzadeen ("We want Britain to become a Sharia state") and someone expressing the "expel the bastards" views Humphrys was unconvincingly pushing.

Izzadeen was rude, interruptive and did his case no favours. His views still need to be heard and understood, together with his proposals for implementing them, and his responses to the rational counter-argument which Humphrys was sadly unable to make.

Peter W

I was shocked by the interview and at first dismissive of the motives of the BBC in airing it so I'm glad you're dealing with it on this blog.

If you want to court controversy then it is very easy by selecting people who are not representative of a significant movement. If communist revoltion was big in the news (such as a terrorist movement) then you could easily 100 people to spout violent revolutionary views. In the same vein, I am sure you could find plenty of people to support the Real IRA, if they succeeded with a mass muder campaign.

And yet I do now feel that my eyes have been opened a bit. To have so clearly expressed the view that God (his Islamic version) created this earth including Britian therefore Britian should also be under Islamic Law, was a new idea to me. I would previously have said to a Muslim country (as JH suggested). I was a bit disappointed that the questioning of the statement 'John Reid coming to a Muslim area' question wasn't answered or pressed enough - particularly as that area is nowhere near 100% Muslim. Are there areas of Britain where the indigenous population are not allowed?

Twenty years ago I would have suspected this man of having been a plant by the Secret Service because his views are so outrageously designed to evoke a reaction from the 'public'. Now, I just think that all religion (and I mean all) has the potential to lead to this sort of evil meglomaniacal stance. It scares me.

  • 18.
  • At 11:59 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Neil Small wrote:

I'm sorry, but giving air time to a man who condones violence and murder is not what you expect from a responsible broadcaster.

Perhaps you could have researched his background and asked him awkward questions.

People like this are dangerous. I don't see the BBC rushing to interview the BNP in the same way? Or are the only extremists the BBC wishes to interview are Islamic ones?

  • 19.
  • At 12:13 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • anon wrote:

The "if you don't like it here why don't you leave" question is not a stupid one, contrary to what the left wingers above say. This is because Muslims such as Abu Izzadeen would like Britain to become an Islamic state, but of course they already have dozens to choose from, so they should go to one of them.

  • 20.
  • At 12:22 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Ryan O'Hare wrote:

I was absolutely appauled by the attitude of John Humphrey's to his clearly intelligent guest. He did not seem to be interviewing but rather trying to pick out anomalies in the argument of his guest or, worst still, use an obviously patronising tone of voice to the clearly well-educated man. This editor's follow up is again clearly demonstrating the ignorance of the country to religious issues. Isn't the BBC (as well as the country) meant to be multi-cultural ? That means integration, not seperation. Shame on the Today programme, and shame on you.

  • 21.
  • At 12:25 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Ascylto wrote:

John Humphrys interview method made my blood boil initially. Why should he pussyfoot around this man? But what Humphrys did was to allow this extremist enough rope to hang himself. He didn't answer questions properly, was hectoring and moved between being apparently sensible and ranting.

Personally, Izzadeen should not have made it outside Broadcasting House. He should have been bundled into a car and whizzed off to RAF Lynham, placed on board a plane, parachute attached and dropped over Saudi Arabia.

No doubt Izzadeen would be so pleased to enjoy Sharia law that he would be happy to kiss the ground when he landed.

I wonder whether he would be allowed to express such anti-establishment views in an Islamic state. I suspect not!

  • 22.
  • At 12:32 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • wrote:

The imbeciles who attack JH for his suggestion that Izzadeen move to Saudi miss the point. Izzadeen doesn't complain that his views are unheard, or that his opinion doesn't count. His complaint is that his minority worldview doesn't hold sway - regardless of a lack of majority consent. That's not the way that Western democracies do things - and that's why JH fairly suggests that anyone who doesn't like it buggers off to somewhere where the opinion of the majority of residents doesn't count.

  • 23.
  • At 12:43 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • mike page wrote:

ok when i first listened to today jack demanio held sway, but i do rather feel, and have done since the gilligan fiasco, that the today programme is past its sell by date. humphreys does british politics or british democracy no favours and i will rejoice when he is gone.

but on this occasion i do feel it was right to give abu izzadeen his say. surely he no more represents the values of most muslims in our society than the occasional misguided "christian" (sic) sect represents christians worldwide, or 2000 years of christian teaching.

  • 24.
  • At 12:45 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • david wrote:

what should we make of the BBC deciding that the Chief Rabbi and Abu Izzeddin should not meet? some very interesting preconceptions must be at work here.

there could be several, raning from the assumption that that all muslims and jews hate each other to the possibility that Abu I. would, what , attack the Chief Rabbi.

what does this say about the unspoken assumptions, accepted as verities that underlie the BBC's coverage of the middle east or religious affairs?

It is high time that the BBC do some serious inner reflection over these sorts preconception which are announced so glibly.

  • 25.
  • At 12:54 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Ben Goodwin wrote:

I thought the comments made about Izzadeen and Sachs having to be kept from 'mingling', typifies and serves to feed every negative stereotypical image we have of people with differing views and cultures. That was the BBC's chance to make them missed it.

  • 26.
  • At 01:09 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Andrew wrote:

The article above reads,

"And thanks to an eagle-eyed staff member, we managed to avoid a potentially awkward green room meeting between Izzadeen and that morning's Thought for the Day guest, Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sachs. Would they have found some common ground over the soggy croissants? Some things I feel are beyond even BBC patisserie."

Thank goodness for the self appointed BBC police. Imagine two people from different backgrounds and beliefs having to actually speak to each other!? Glad to see the BBC is doing peoples thinking for them.

  • 27.
  • At 01:20 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Wullie Connell (Conbhaill) wrote:

I didn't hear the interview, but having read Humphry's gibe "If you don't like it here , why dont you leave" not much better than the taunts that many black Britons have to suffer from racists like "why don't you go back to Africa!"

Why is Humphreys still drawing a salary fom th BBC after this?

I've no respect for the BBC, never have, never will.

  • 28.
  • At 02:13 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • M. Fernandez wrote:

I'd have more respect for the editor if he didn't ask this patronizing question. The BBC doesn't care about what's right and the "Oops, me bad" blog to conveniently button-hole complaints has lost its charm from repeated use. Just chalk it up to tabloid journalism -- the public has caught on.

  • 29.
  • At 02:38 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • glad wrote:

Actually I thought that mr Izzadeen handled himself more than adequately, which would have made some MPs jealous. I didn't agree with much of what he had to say, however far from being a nutter, he was quite articulate. As for the interviewer he was loving it, in fact they both were you could tell from the interaction between the two of them. To call him a nutter does us all an disservice in fact his views need to be heard by all otherwise he can be allowed to operate at will within the muslim community.

  • 30.
  • At 06:30 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Harry wrote:

The question you ask is whether he should have been on the programme in the first place, not whether anyone agrees or disgarees with him. There are no end of people I disagree with, but no-one suggests for a moment they shouldn't be interviewed.

The point made about the potential "damaging the process of integrating the Muslim community" is a political objective. If the BBC sees itself as an organisation that requires itself to support this objective, then it's become a political tool. That's not what it should be at all.

Of course the BBC should invite people from all views and hold them to account. This can't be done if one complete side of the debate is removed from the discussion.

I found it very useful to have a combative, fully English-speaking proponent of his view putting his case strongly in the face of an equally robust questioner.

Those who would deny all of us the right to hear the opposite side of the argument are themselves anti-democratic and anti-free-speech. If anyone should be sent to a place where views can't be freely expressed, it's them!

I was truly frightened by Abu Izzadeen's comments. Perhaps that's what he wanted. Are his views a portent of things to come in this country? I also fear a right wing working class backlash leading us to the same mentality of the Nazi German's final solution . Perhaps not out of the question as I cerainly remember the London Dockers marching against mass Asian immigration in the 1960s

  • 32.
  • At 07:19 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • simon walker wrote:

The BBC does its level best to ignore or deny the BNP any voice - even tho' they get votes and are representing BBC licence payers. Yet a ranting muslim is whisked in to get the VIP treatment.
Who said the BBC hadn't lost the plot!

  • 33.
  • At 07:39 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Richie wrote:

The BNP's Nick Griffen has opinions that are shared with thousands in the UK. When are you going to give him 12 minutes airtime?

  • 34.
  • At 07:52 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Paul Smith wrote:

I don't see anything wrong in suggesting someone find a country more suitable to their needs and ideas. It's not a matter of "go back to where you came from" but "go to somewhere that better meets your aspirations and lifestyle"

Clearly for Abu Izzadeen an Islamic fundamentalist state is better suited to his needs and lifestyle. There are plenty of these in the world for him to go to.

I certainly don't wish to live in an Islamic state and don't see why Britain should be changed in to one just to suit Abu Izzadeen.

I also find is rather hypocritical that the BBC only deems certain extremist views should be given air. You won't hear from the BNP on the BBC. Either no extremists should be allowed on or they all should be. Personally I'd prefer the none option!

  • 35.
  • At 07:54 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • MarkinDurham wrote:

Message 7 - Brooks speaks for the majority of muslims in there being no-go areas for non-muslims, does he? If that is true, then we are in big trouble. It's also probably deeply offensive to the silent majority of non-muslims, who make up the best part of the UK.

  • 36.
  • At 07:56 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • DJ wrote:

"There is a powerful argument to be made that presenting the most extreme voices on air actually damages the process of integrating the Muslim community into the fight against terrorism. The BBC has a duty to balance voices, and to present a representative range of views from within communities."
So what are you saying? That balance is only achieved by not giving the more extreme voices an airing? Or that balance is achieved by giving all voices an airing?
Also, I was rather taken aback to see that the first sentence implies that the BBC has a role in integrating the Muslim community into the fight against terrorism. Is that really the BBC's role? To act as an arm of government? Or should it be observing and reporting on the process without fear or favour?
While I agree that some of the questions asked of Abu Izzadeen were poorly framed and that he a little more elaboration of his answers would have been interesting, it's also the way Today works. This was made clear by the comments about Abu Izzadeen "not playing the game".
As for the tacky comments about keeping Abu Izzadeen and Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sachs separated, surely an eagle-eyed staff member should have spotted the two men on the running order and suggested some overlap on air? That would have made interesting radio.

  • 37.
  • At 08:03 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • treborc wrote:

Funny how people who have silly idea's get onto TV, if this had been any other faith it would have been ignored, if it was an anti war protest nothing would have happened. Because it is a Muslim protest it's all over the TV. look at the protest of the pope, the BBC did not show anything of the protests in London or the screaming for people to die.

you can always leave this country if your not happy with it, personally I am getting sick to death with the moans from the Muslim faith.

  • 38.
  • At 08:06 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Motughosh wrote:

Whilst I didn't agree with all of the views of Abu Izzadeen I thought that the interview line taken by John Humphreyswas a disgrace.

Your editorial line now totally adopts the politicised language of the 'war on terror' - now even not even bothering to caveat the non-sensical grammar of the phrase

John's line would have made John Reid proud and asking if he condoned 9/11 was just petty point scoring. I don't think that the BBC covered itself in glory. Cheers for putting a radical voice on the news, boos for a completely biased editorial line - another nail in the coffin for the BBC's famed news.

  • 39.
  • At 08:07 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Cathy Robertson wrote:

I heard only the last few minutes of this interview, but that was enough to reveal Mr Izzadeen's total unwillingness and inability to engage in debate which recognises the validity of any other viewpoint other than his own. Stating that as a Muslim he was commanded by Allah to promote Sharia law in the UK because the UK was created by Allah is indeed total effrontery. I think it was correct to conduct this interview - Mr Izzadeen shot himself in the foot as far as I am concerned, with his circular, illogical and self referential arguments. By hearing him, we understand better where he and his ilk are coming from. And I don't think the question of him leaving England if he hates our system so passionately is at all racist, as others has suggested. It is perfectly reasonable. If I hated living in Saudi Arabia as much, I wouldn't try to change the system through violence. I'd leave. As for preventing him and Rabbi Sachs from meeting in the same room, I agree with the above comments - whyever shouldn't they meet?

  • 40.
  • At 08:24 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Russell wrote:

To be honest the 'if you dont like it, move to Saudi Arabia' argument, is not just a view held by the white van man, but 99% of decent honest British citizens! Personally i would pull out of Afghanistan and allow the Taliban to create another utopia that this kind of person so admires!

  • 41.
  • At 08:52 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Tim wrote:

This was a great piece of programming, getting straight to the heart of the matter in a way that more "popular" media are scared of, and at the same time dispelling criticisms that radio 4 are a bunch of conservative old fuddy-duddies. Both participants put their point of view in a very eloquent and forceful manner.

Af for the subject matter, it illustrated brilliantly how many religious people believe that the rule of God is more important than the rule of law. It is not until we can come to terms with this dichotomy that we can hope to achieve peace.

  • 42.
  • At 09:28 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Alexia Whiting wrote:

John Humphreys also advised Trevor Brooks to stand for Parliament and persuade his friends to vote for him. If elected he may try changing the law of the land by democratic means. "That's how we do it in this country".

  • 43.
  • At 09:33 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • alan rose wrote:

Christanity has Laws by which Christians are expected to live. The most important and one which covers all the others is that 'We should love one another'.
Muslims have theirs in the form of commands laid down in the Quoran,just one of which is, that ALL Muslims should work towards overthrowing the government of the country in which they live. Can Mr.Izzadeen deny this?

  • 44.
  • At 10:21 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Dawn Birch wrote:

So 'White Van Man' asks the sort of questions that are deemed somewhat crass? I am not a man and I do not own a white van, but I feel that I should be able to ask questions that the PC brigade are afraid to. Trevor Brooks wants the UK to be ruled by Sharia law and all that entails, like the oppression of women (think what the Taleban did to women in Afghanistan and the fact that women cannot even drive a car in Saudi), the outlawing of other religions and the banning of items not part of their religion. I like a glass of wine, I like to wear skirts that show my legs, whilst not being homosexual, I respect the rights of others to be so without the threat of punishment, I like to have my Christian beliefs and these would all be denied if Mr Brooks gets his way. I hold a passport that refers to Her Brittanic Majesty. Our Queen is the Head of State and also Head of the Church of England. Under Sharia Law would our Queen be deposed? Ask Mr Brooks that and see if he answers and then ask the British public to respond to his answer. Britain stands for freedom - ask Mr Brooks if he sees a future Sharia state as being as free as the one that he currently lives in? If Mr Brooks is as well read as he says he is, he might want to quote the European Court of Human Rights from 22 January 2004 - "According to the Court, it was difficult to declare one’s respect for democracy and human rights while at the same time supporting a regime based on sharia, which clearly diverged from Convention values, particularly with regard to its criminal law and criminal procedure, its rules on the legal status of women and the way it intervened in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with religious precepts." On this note I would have to agree with John Humphries - if Mr Brooks wants to live under Sharia law, then he needs to go to countries that practice it, and this is not the view of White Van Man.

  • 45.
  • At 10:51 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Hilary James wrote:

I have no problems with this man being interviewed. What I am thoroughly sick of is being told that we *must* listen to him and other Muslims unless we want to be bombed. Muslims make up approx. 1% of the UK population. So why are we bombarded daily with news and other programmes abour their concerns, wants, needs, views? I don't recall such media interest in the concerns of Irish Nationalists when the IRA was bombing mainland UK! I don't see other minorities in the UK being given such saturation attention. I am very pro-immigration, but I am tired of these people coming over here and telling us we must change our ways, traditions and laws to suit them. Or else they will turn nasty. Time to start insisting that they fit in with us, not the other way round. We've pandered to them way too long. If they hate the way we run things here so much, they should go live in a country with Sharia Law etc which DOES suit them. Not racist. Just logical. Why live somewhere that bothers you so much when you have a whole world to settle in?

  • 46.
  • At 11:03 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Laura B Sheehan wrote:

"Instead of reviling him and ignoring his message, perhaps we should listen to him and his people and see how to find a way to coexist"

I agree with the above comment however from the part of the interview I heard it seemed that Mr Izzadeen had no desire to find a way to coexist. He seemed to be saying that Sharia law should be impossed on everyonein the UK whether the majority want it or not. That isn't coexistance.

Interviewing a firebrand has its inherent risks and of course calculated risks are part of journalism. Of course a mature audience should be able to sift between the grain and the chaff but the dangers are obvious: there are gullible people out there who would swallow extremist views hook, line and sinker. Ranting and raving however should not be encouraged. Perhaps if these firebrands could temper their rhetoric people will listen to what they have to say. We live in a civil society, where violent methods should not be encouraged as they send wrong signals.

  • 48.
  • At 12:25 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • taz meunier wrote:

I was taken aback that the BBC had aired the views of this "born-again type" fanatical so-called Muslim. However the fantasy world of these zealots should be exposed to serve the wider public need for greater awareness and caution against this type of asymmetric believer. It was probably worth the risk given that Brooks will now be feted as hero of the underground rebellion that is underway amongst that community in the UK. It may be cool and wicked, perhaps even a cause macabre amongst them, but beware giving them any air will only embolden this sniggering group even further.

As I listened to the interview I realised that it would have pained many generations and the vast majority of UK Muslims hearing this idiot spewing forth nothing but vitriol, hate and anger whilst at the same claiming to represent their views and the whole of Islam. What conceit, pride, prejudice and ignorance,totally the anti-thesis of the body of Islamic teachings. These also state that Muslims abiding in a non-Islamic state should abide by the laws of the society that they have entered. They do not ask that Muslims migrate principally to establish Sharia law which seemed to be one of Brooks' main pre-occupations. If so and he entertains and pursues actions in an undemocratic fashion then let him be arrested under current law.

The objective of these zealots' claims to represent all Muslims is to tar the whole community with their message to encourage a further authoritarian backlash and draconian security measures aimed at that community. Not for the first time will that tactic prove successful,if it succeeds in persecuting, or engenders a widespread perception of persecution, across the whole community. Therein lies the danger of zealots, the most dangerous of which historically have been fanatical semites of all persuasions, which leads me personally to believe that such faiths are inherently predisposed to terroristic interpretation.

Societies need to be vigilant and use existing means available to isolate and defeat zealots. It does not mean however in ceding greater power and authority to politicians who may be just as extreme, ignorant,bigoted and willingly fall into the traps laid out to further their own agendas.

Having lived around the world I return to Britain and see that we must protect a society which has one of the most successful pluralistic and multi-cultural societies that exists anywhere on the planet. Zealots do not survive in their own ectoplasm but are nourished and supported by others. It is the others who know or suspect the intentions of zealots who should stand up and face their consciences. They have it in their power to curb the zealots force but only if they truly believe in and have a strong vested interest in maintaining the
fabric of a society which allows them to thrive.

  • 49.
  • At 12:41 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Jeff Cable wrote:

The BBC is absolutely right in giving a voice to all people who inhabit the uk. Where it becomes necessary to consider the wisdom of doing so is when the voice could be considered to be inciting treason; the state has to have the means by which it can defend itself.

Sharia law in the UK would be a disaster for those of us who do not follow the Islamic way. In criminal legal cases, or civil disputes, which law system would be supreme? What are the implications for European case law?

The UK is a secular state and people are free to worship whichever gods they choose to believe in. This freedom is not a freedom to overturn that which we do not like. We could not even have this discussion which questions Islam and its values, under Sharia law.

Calling Mr Blair a murderer is more than a little extreme because (whether one agrees with the policies he follows or not) he has a duty and responsibility to act in what he believes are the best interests of the UK and its inhabitants.

The tendency of Islam, and it's followers, to want to commit lethal violence against non-muslims, for supposed offences against Allah (real or imaginary) is anathema to civilised people.

It is to be hoped that MI6 have taken the appropriate notes from this radio interview and that Izzadeen is promptly locked up for inciting others to adopt his viewpoint, which is clearly destructive of the rights of the majority.

The democratic process requires rather more than just a loud mouth and if a rational debate, with Islam, could be had without people laying claim to divine rights to undertake whatever course of action they are bent on, then debate would be the way forward.

Sadly, the Isamic faith, to these tired western eyes, is and has been bereft of a credible moral compass for a very long time. The BBC has rendered a public service to us all by allowing people with extreme views to be identified.

The oxygen of publicity may well afford Izzadeen some local notoriety but he needs to remain in the public eye, while he has his freedom, where we can all see what he is doing.

  • 50.
  • At 03:46 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

I heard some of the interview with Mr Izzadeen. It made me wonder if I should wash again before saying my prayers.

There are people who could ask questions that would show more clearly the gaps in Mr Izzadeen's rhetoric, and I don't think John Humphries could be adequately briefed for an interview like this. If there was an editorial error, it was that it was not possible to bring any context to the stream of talk.

I did not think that John Humphries' question about why he didn't leave sounded prejudiced. Mr Izzadeen may believe that having been born in Britain he has as much right to live here as anybody else. Most people would accept that.

Someone who talks about "Operation 7/7" so glibly can give clever answers to as many questions as he likes, but it is hard to believe that he loves this country, as he asserted.

It would be [only slightly] interesting to know how he would reply now to a question which may be put to him by an angel, "Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from the domain of evil)?"

It is clear from some of the replies to the blog piece that quite a lot of people think Mr Izzadeen represents a significant strand in the British Muslim community. He obviously thinks so too, and to achieve national publicity for heckling the Home Secretary and be interviewed on the Today Programme will do little to disabuse him of this idea.

Actually, I don't think the majority of young British people with familiy ties to historic Muslim countries, however much their nerves may be jangled by the tensions surrounding the "war on terror", are much like this person.

The idea of the BBC setting up an interview panel of young Muslims, "precisely to counter the bias towards established and known Muslim voices on our output" is important. It is true that the young are getting the ideas from many sources outside the birth community.

But please bear in mind that not all members of the ethnic groups concerned are theologically articulate Muslims. Keep some space for ordinary people.

  • 51.
  • At 11:42 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • wrote:

The isolation of Muslim communities is also an issue here in Australia. There needs to be clearly defined middle ground where senior Muslim leaders encourage tolerance towards the very society they choose to exist in.

On the other side, we (including the media) need to draw out the good work of many Muslims and the valuable contribution they make to a society.

In my State, we predominantly have Sudanese (both Christian and Muslim) and they have enriched our culture far more than any other migrant group since the post war period.

Australians have the notion of giving people a fair go - unless it's for the Ashes - and by widely accepting these Sudanese very few have fallen into the criminal justice system.

This fair go attitude works and if we are to prevent home grown terrorists then listen to to people like Izzadeen. You don't have to agree with them but listen to them because they view this struggle as Christian vs Muslim.

  • 52.
  • At 02:38 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • James wrote:

A very interesting interview. The British people can no longer be in any doubt about the nature of the fascist extremists living in their midst.

  • 53.
  • At 02:54 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Patricia wrote:

While it is reasonable to expect that the UK should welcome persons from all corners of the globe, it is the newcomers (Muslims) to a country who have the responsibility of
integrating themselves amicably. The radical factions within the Muslim community (those who commit violent acts) unfortunately make it difficult for all Muslims living in the UK. If the violence stops, the atmosphere will improve.

If you happened to interview a member of the BNP, would you ensure he did not meet Trevor Phillips if he happened to be in the "Green Room"?

How much did the BBC pay Izzadeen for his airtime?

How is BBC coverage currently so biased against the Muslim community that you need to set up a special interview panel? The BBC chose not to report recent Muslim protests outside Westminster Cathedral! Why?

  • 55.
  • At 02:58 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Balance, what balance wrote:

Perhaps we should him democracy in action, and have a referendum on if Britain should adopt Shiite laws.

I would expect the result to be in the region of 99% against. Maybe after this he will then realise exactly how many people share his views. Although, I doubt that would shut him up.

And as for the comments that if he doesn't like the British way he should go to a country that has different laws - this is not racist. In a recent Channel 4 show, a muslim with extremist views was talking an a moderate muslim made the exact same suggestion.

If you are not happy with a rule of law that is supported in principle by the vast majority of the population then you should not use threats of violence to change it but instead find a nation which is suited to your tastes.

In his case such a country exists.

  • 56.
  • At 10:47 AM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • John R wrote:

Message 33 asks when the BBC will give Nick Griffen 12 minutes of airtime.

I presume the answer is "the next time he heckles the Home Secretary at a press conference."

  • 57.
  • At 12:15 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

In reply to John R (message 56):

I suspect that if Nick Griffen heckled the home secretary, he would be arrested and charged with breach of the peace.

  • 58.
  • At 07:34 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

A major problem is that the British people have to ask whether they can come to terms with people who have shown by murderous violence that any terms must be their own terms and not those under our present democratic arrangements.
There is no possible excuse for killing and maiming your own nationals: interested leaders said what I hope was more than they intended in suggesting that there is.

  • 59.
  • At 11:35 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Marc wrote:

Religious people may not like it, but I think that a truly secular state is the only way to govern such a "pluralistic" society... It annoys me when people state that the UK is "A Christian country". I am a nontheist, thank you very much. It seems that all of the "Abrahamic" religions, and plenty of others, ultimately have the potential to create ignorant extremists. I do not want to be a part of any set of "collective delusions".

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.