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Terror threat

Policy Exchange dispute - update

  • Newsnight
  • 29 May 08, 03:21 PM

As summer approaches we thought it was about time we revisited the row we got into late last year with the influential right-leaning think tank Policy Exchange. It's almost six months since we broadcast our investigation into Policy Exchange's report "The Hijacking of British Islam" which named and shamed mosques across the UK for disseminating extremist literature. We have a new statement from them, but more of that later.

Continue reading "Policy Exchange dispute - update"

Blogging - a new era

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Apr 08, 05:49 PM

blog203.jpgAs many of you who've used the BBC's blogs will know, it has for some months been a deeply frustrating experience, not just for you but for us too.

The point of blogging about our programmes is to have a swift and informal conversation with our viewers. That's impossible if it takes hours to get your comment or our response through.

I'm relieved to say that as of yesterday we have a new system which should be much more robust and which I hope will usher in a new era of blogging for Newsnight.

One change is that in order to comment you'll need to register by filling in a simple form.
Once signed up, you'll be able to comment on any BBC blog using the same login.

Many of you have already commented on how it's working and one or two have suggested it's designed to introduce more censorship.

That's certainly not our intention. The aim is to encourage much more open discussion about the programme and much more interaction with the programme-makers. I'm sure it isn't perfect and that you'll let us know how it could be improved.

Thanks very much to all those contributors - the Bob Goodalls, Barrie Singletons, Mistress76UKs and many others - who have persevered through all the blog problems. Apologies for all the Error 502s, and welcome to the new era.

Blog fix imminent

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Apr 08, 04:32 PM

Blog closed temporarilyFrom 1800 this evening (UK time), we'll be doing some essential maintenance to the blog. As a result of this, you won't be able to leave any comments on our blog posts from that time until Thursday morning and the comments function on all old posts will close. We apologise for any inconvenience.

The work will fix the very frustrating problems we've encountered for some time now with the whole comments system.

From Thursday a new system will be in place - this will mean you will need to complete a simple registration form in order to post a comment on the blog. Once signed up, you will be able to comment on all BBC blogs using the same login. There will be more details in the morning. In the meantime - if you wish to comment on the programme you can email us via

Blog problems - a solution is nigh

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Apr 08, 11:40 AM

blog502error.jpgAnyone who regularly reads the Newsnight blog will know that we have suffered from a series of technical problems for some time now. Comments disappear, the dreaded 502 'not available' message appears, and multiple copies of comments get submitted in error. (More on the problems here.)

Well, to much relief (not least here at Newsnight), a solution is about to be unveiled.

In the very near future the comments system that causes all the problems is being replaced by a BBC-wide system.

Under the new system, anyone wishing to leave a comment will need to sign in - a relatively swift and painless affair that comes with the added bonus of enabling you to leave your thoughts on blogs and message boards across all BBC websites.

Finally, we hope to revamp and relaunch the whole Newsnight blog shortly, with more bloggers, more variety, and the odd bit of video thrown in. But one step at a time...

We'll update you on the changes next week.

Sorry Times

  • Richard Watson
  • 17 Dec 07, 04:55 PM

More news on the Policy Exchange story. There was a fascinating little piece in The Times this morning about Policy Exchange’s report “The Hijacking of British Islam”. It was in the form of an apology – on page 6 of the paper.

Continue reading "Sorry Times"

Richard Watson’s comment on the Policy Exchange row

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Dec 07, 06:07 PM

Our recent film about Policy Exchange’s report “The Hijacking of British Islam” certainly has provoked an angry response from this influential think-tank. Policy Exchange is accusing us of bad faith and of concentrating on what they seem to be suggesting is the trifling matter of some of the documentary evidence used to underpin their findings. They say we’ve missed the main point, that extremist books were recovered in any case.

A quick reminder: In what Policy Exchange billed as the most comprehensive academic study of its kind, four teams of two researchers, not on Policy Exchange’s staff but working on their behalf, had visited 100 mosques and found that in a quarter of the locations they were able to buy or acquire extremist literature. Their report can be read here.

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Recruiting from the Darkside

  • Richard Watson
  • 11 Oct 07, 10:53 AM

Taxi to the darksideA remarkable new documentary from the BBC’s Storyville strand once again prompted me to ask the question: what turns a British citizen into a potential suicide bomber, mentally prepared to murder fellow civilians to “please” God and further an Islamist cause?

There are many factors at work: religious conviction, alienation (but not poverty), and the secrecy and seduction of being part of an anti-establishment cult. But the most fiercely debated question is the extent to which fallout from the so-called "war on terror" has motivated attacks. And that is where the Storyville film Taxi To The Darkside comes in.

The documentary tells the story of the brutal treatment of an Afghan man who was detained without trial by the US military at Bagram airbase near Kabul in 2002. It shines a penetrating light on human rights abuses linked to the "war on terror" which have undoubtedly been a gift to terrorist recruiters.

Continue reading "Recruiting from the Darkside"

Why Newsnight's interview with former HT member is essential viewing

  • Richard Watson
  • 13 Sep 07, 11:52 AM

Maajid NawazFor anyone interested in radical Islam in Britain, our recent film airing the views of a former member of Hizb-ut Tahrir’s leadership is essential viewing. Maajid Nawaz – who was recently tipped to lead the organisation - explained in detail why he has resigned after 12 years – and why he wants other members to follow him.

When last year a more junior supporter of Hizb-ut Tahrir told us how Hizb-ut Tahrir had taught him to hate British society, the leadership angrily denied the charge. But on Tuesday's Newsnight Maajid Nawaz admitted that he taught new members that “they should revile being British”.

watchmaajidnarwaz.jpgHe explained: “We polarized the relationships between the Muslims and the non-Muslims…there are many things that I propagated to young people that I’m now, I regret thoroughly. That includes telling them that they’re not British but they’re Muslim first.”

Hizb-ut Tahrir’s stated aim is to create an Islamic super-state ruled by Shariah law. Publicly it stresses this will be achieved “without resorting to violence” and “following an exclusively political method.”

But this image was shattered in our interview when Maajid Nawaz confirmed that the organisation secretly believes that killing millions of innocent people to expand the Caliphate would be justified.

“They are prepared to, once they’ve established the State, to fight other countries and to kill people in the pursuit of unifying this state into one state. And what I’d like to emphasize is that such a policy is not agreed upon within Islamic theology.”

Mr Nawaz referred to a book which is highly respected by Hizb-ut Tahrir. “According to Hizb ut-Tahrir’s literature, according to a book written by their second global leader, it’s a state that they are prepared to kill millions of people to expand.”

He warned: “they’ve laid down the foundations for a theory that can then be used by jihadists and developed upon by jihadists, and that’s where there’s a danger.”

Hizb-ut Tahrir declined to be interviewed for last night’s programme. They issued a statement which did not address their former colleague’s concerns but said: “Opinion poll after opinion poll indicate that the Muslim world today rejects colonialism - whether manifested through occupation or western backed dictators - and is firmly behind Islamic political parties like Hizb ut-Tahrir, who call for the Caliphate - a ruling system that reflects Islam's political and moral standards. The increasing propaganda against the Caliphate is a last ditch attempt by Western governments to prop up these ailing dictators. We are happy to say that such attempts will inevitably fail.”

Reporting the defining story of our age

  • Richard Watson
  • 10 Sep 07, 01:41 PM

Richard Watson Judging by the numerous comments on my piece last week on extremist material in public libraries, there's nothing like a debate about political Islam to stir the emotions.

I really like getting feedback from you, even if some comments are pretty disparaging - usually from those who believe we obsess about these matters. But I make no apology for that. The terror threat - more specifically the Islamist terror threat - is the defining story of our age.

Oscar Wilde had it about right when he said not being talked about is the worst fate a writer can face. Newsnight likes to be at the centre of the debate so please continue to tell us your views and suggest stories for us to cover.

So with all this in mind, we've created a special web page which pulls together a lot of our work on terrorism, radicalism and related subjects. We hope you find it a useful resource.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites