Monday, February 06, 2006

Making tense of us all

Over the weekend I witnessed an interview on BBC News between the BBC's oldest and most ambivalent male presenter (David Something) and a young 'spokesmen for young British Muslims' who had been rushed in to discuss what can be described as the 'cartoon protests'.

Here is my trimmed down and slightly extended transcript of their conversation.

BBC: (scuffing the safe ground) I've had a look at the cartoons - well, they're not even good ones. But what's your reaction to them then?
Young Muslim Spokesperson: Well, they're outrageous and deeply offensive. They portray the Prophet Muhammad as terrorist with a fuse, a bomb on his head. We condemn their publication in such a provocative manner.

BBC: What kind of effects could these cartoons have on Muslims across the world?
YMS: They could push many moderate Muslims towards the more radical Islam.

BBC: Would could that result in?
YMS: Well we'd see more of the kinds of attacks like the ones we saw last year.

BBC: I take it you mean the bombings...?

OK, I added that last one but the thought did seem to cross the BBC presenters face as he quickly reached to rustle some papers (perhaps subconsciously looking to refresh his memory of the cartoon.)

Both CNN and the BBC seem to me to grow increasingly uncomfortable with their task of having to explain why the protests are happening without sounding at all coy when describing the beliefs of those involved.

CNN's Michael Holmes made a brave a stab at sounding objective without coming across as implicitly ironic. In his soft Australian accent "Muslims believe that..." he did his best to appear curious and contemplative - almost pretending he was only just beginning to get a handle on the scenes of mayhem himself.

But when it came to the protests in London the BBC let slip a discreet message to their base audience by sending in veteran war correspondent Jeremy Bowen to cover the story. Despite seeming a tad intimated by the (carefully edited-in) anti-BBC placards (some reading 'Newsnight go to Hell' of all things) he managed to corner a protester of his own age and size and score a point in the name of freedom of expression.

And if we ever see John Simpson in Trafalgar Square wearing body armour, what will that mean?


Post a Comment

<< Home