Prominent journalist John Ware accuses 5Pillars of ‘divisiveness’

John Ware. Pic: BBC

The prominent BBC journalist John Ware has accused 5Pillars of “sowing division” and has urged the Muslim news website to withdraw some of its “inflammatory content.”

In a recent article for The Critic magazine, Ware criticised 5Pillars editor Roshan Muhammed Salih for calling French freedom of speech defenders a “bunch of hypocrites” who “only really believe in the freedom to insult Muslims because they are in reality racists and Islamophobes.”

Ware said the French only want to uphold “the right to offend and to peacefully debate offence.” He added that Jews have had to put up with being insulted too but they do not seek an exemption from it let alone “contemplate butchering a teacher.”

“Then there is the growth of Holocaust denial,” he wrote. “To deny the attempt on an industrial scale to exterminate the entire Jewish race could scarcely be more offensive and defamatory of the Jewish people. Do Jews respond with violence against the deniers by butchering them? No, the reverse is generally true. Jews either ignore them or try to educate them out of their ignorance.”

Ware went onto criticise a video we produced in 2018 which denounced so-called Muslim reformists.

He wrote: “If Five Pillars really are committed to ‘working constructively and living harmoniously with non-Muslims,’ the editor could make a start by withdrawing these inflammatory videos; apologising for blaming the French authorities for not having ‘immediately closed down’ Charlie Hebdo; withdrawing his provocation that France was heading for ‘civil war’; acknowledging that instead of dignifying the cartoon’s republication, Samuel Paty was attempting in a sensitive way to explain to his young students the civilising influence of openly discussing contentious ideas; and finally to stop blaming ‘Western civilisation’ for having ‘completely lost its moral compass’ when his own seems more likely to steer us towards the kind of ‘civil war’ he wishes to avoid.”

Roshan Muhammed Salih

John Ware has presented Panorama documentaries since 1986 and has taken a particular interest in investigating so-called Islamic extremism.

The Muslim Council of Britain, Interpal, Hamas, Muslim schools, former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman and a whole array of  “non-violent extremists” number among his targets.

In 2019, he also reported on antisemitism in the Labour Party in a Panorama programme entitled Is Labour Anti-Semitic?.

Responding to Ware’s article, 5Pillars editor Roshan Muhammed Salih said: “I find it highly ironic that John Ware is demanding that 5Pillars’ content be removed in an article where he praises freedom of speech and the right to offend.

“In recent weeks France has closed down the nation’s main anti-Islamophobia organisation as well as the nation’s biggest Muslim charity. Both these organisations have no link to terrorism whatsoever and have been shut down to send a message to French Muslims that they have no right to hold their own government to account when it comes to state Islamophobia.

“French Muslims are living in fear and do not enjoy the same rights, or protection, other minorities have. So I believe it is essential that Muslims abroad speak out as French Muslims cannot.

“As for our videos decrying Muslims ‘reformists,’ 5Pillars is a strong defender of normative, mainstream Islam and we will continue to reflect the widespread view among Muslims that Islam is sacrosanct and should not be watered down; as well as the view that certain Muslim figures in this country are working against the community’s general interest.”

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