Channel 4 News reporter Assed Baig has apologised for “offence caused” after right-wing media outlets criticised him for a series of tweets in which he called other Muslims “House Muslims” and coconuts.
On his Twitter feed yesterday Baig said: “I have been the subject of some criticism over past remarks I have made in blogs and on social media. Like many others, my views have evolved over time and I apologise for the offence caused.. In my work as a reporter for Channel 4 News, I have and will always aim to be fair, unbiased and impartial.”
Responding to social media criticism over a recent Channel 4 News report during which he said that Ahmadis identify themselves “as a Muslim movement,” Baig also tweeted: “In a recent report on the Ahmadiyyah, I used a phrase used by other media. For the record #c4news always refer to the Ahmadiyyah as Muslim.”
This Channel 4 policy will be seen as highly controversial among Muslims because Ahmadis are considered to be non-Muslim by an overwhelming majority of Sunni and Shia scholars.
Earlier this week articles by right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes and the notoriously Islamophobic Daily Mail newspaper apparently forced Channel 4 News to issue a “reminder” to Baig of his duty to be fair and impartial.
Baig is widely considered in the Muslim community as one of the few Muslim journalists working in the mainstream who hasn’t sold out his values and has remained close to the grassroots.
His use of the terms “House Muslim” and “coconut” will not surprise or shock most in the Muslim community because they are widely used as political (not racial) slurs. However, many non-Muslims consider the terms to be racist.
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A Channel 4 News spokesman told MailOnline: “We are aware of the tweets in question by Assad Baig which pre-date his employment by Channel 4 News. They are clearly a personal view relating to that particular period in time. However, he has been reminded of his responsibilities as a journalist to be fair and impartial when representing Channel 4 News at all times.”
On the other hand, Baig has found plenty of support online from Muslim community activists who have commended him for a series of reports which gave voice to Muslim concerns about Islamophobia and British foreign policy.