Abrahamic faith leaders’ angry as BBC axes religion chief post

Aaqil Ahmed

Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders have warned the BBC that they are at risk of turning its back on efforts to “tackle extremism and intolerance” in Britain simply to cut costs.

In a letter to The Telegraph they urged the corporation to reverse plans to axe its high-profile post of head of religion, currently held by Aaqil Ahmed, the first Muslim in the job, as part of an overhaul of its programme commissioning operations.

Religion is to be merged with science, history and business issues under a new head of “factual” programming in a move the BBC claims will provide an “increased focus on leadership and creativity”.

But the faith leaders said it “could not have come at a worse time” amid tensions relating to religion brutally demonstrated by the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris.

The letter is jointly signed by Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, leader of Reform Judaism in the UK, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Dr Shuja Shafi, and the Bishop of Manchester Right Reverend David Walker together with Prof Linda Woodhead, of Lancaster University, one of the country’s leading authorities on faith in public life.

“Religion is not history,” they insist, going on to voice alarm at the timing.

“From religious efforts at tackling Ebola in West Africa, to the interfaith solidarity that has so far helped prevent the horrors of France being imported to these shores, religion remains a force for change at home and abroad.

“Religious literacy is essential to the diversity we treasure in Britain – and a tonic to the extremism and intolerance that threaten it.

“The BBC plays a key role here, providing robust and rich coverage of religious life to the British public.”

The BBC said in a statement last week that its commitment to religion and ethics output remains “unequivocal”.

Mr Ahmed has been told he can apply for the new role and will continue to oversee in-house production of religious programmes.

As you’re here…

5Pillars have one humble request from you…

Thousands of Muslims around the world visit our website for news every day. Due to the unfortunate reality of covering Muslim-related news in a heightened Islamophobic environment, our advertising and fundraising revenues have decreased significantly.

5Pillars is editorially and financially independent, with no sectarian or political allegiance to any particular group or movement. Our journalism has been exclusively grassroots focussed and our sole purpose is to defend Islam and Muslims in the media.

This makes us unique in comparison to other online Muslim media outlets who are neither independently regulated by a reputable body nor are they managed by qualified journalists.

Our journalism takes time, money and effort to deliver. But we do it because we believe we have a duty to Allah (swt).

You may not agree or like everything we publish. However, which other Muslim news site that is run by experienced journalists will take on the responsibility of being a shield for Islam and Muslims in the media?

If you follow 5Pillars, and you understand its importance in today’s climate, then please support us for as little as £5 a month, it only takes a minute to make a donation. Jazakallah khayran.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:“The best deeds are those done regularly, even if they are small.” [Ibn Mājah]

 

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT 5PILLARS

Add your comments below