Head of BBC Arabic: Don’t call Charlie Hebdo killers ‘terrorists’

Head of BBC Arabic: Don’t call Charlie Hebdo killers ‘terrorists’

Remember when then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano urged Americans to refer to the deadly acts of radical Islamists as man-caused disasters rather than as terrorism? Attempting to whitewash barbarism with kinder, gentler euphemisms was pretty dumb in 2009, when that dopey recommendation was made. But it is far more moronic now, six years and countless murders later.

But that’s what a senior executive at BBC is advocating with regard to the Islamofascists who committed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. From The Independent:

Tarik Kafala, the head of BBC Arabic, the largest of the BBC’s non-English language news services, said the term “terrorist” was too “loaded” to describe the actions of the men who killed 12 people in the attack on the French satirical magazine.

Mr Kafala, whose BBC Arabic television, radio and online news services reach a weekly audience of 36 million people, told The Independent: “We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist or an act as being terrorist. What we try to do is to say that ‘two men killed 12 people in an attack on the office of a satirical magazine’. That’s enough, we know what that means and what it is.”

But if we “know what it is,” then what harm comes of identifying “it” by name? For that matter, shouldn’t Kafala, as a journalist, welcome specificity, even if it is — as he argues — “value-laden”? The answer, remarkably, is no. His “comments,” the article goes on to note, “are in line with the BBC’s editorial guidelines on reporting terrorism.” These state:

[The BBC] does not ban the use of the word [terrorism]. However, we do ask that careful thought is given to its use by a BBC voice. There are ways of conveying the full horror and human consequences of acts of terror without using the word ‘terrorist’ to describe the perpetrators.

The value judgements frequently implicit in the use of the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist group’ can create inconsistency in their use or, to audiences, raise doubts about our impartiality.  It may be better to talk about an apparent act of terror or terrorism than label individuals or a group.

These efforts to tiptoe around the word terrorism are of a piece with the Obama administration’s refusal to identify radical Islam as the driver of these violent acts. Yet, the louder those supposed defenders of the Islamic faith protest, the more determined “fighters” eager to establish a new caliphate become.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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