Outrage as BBC calls Brussels shooting a ‘terror attack’ despite refusal to label Hamas killers ‘terrorists’ – as hundreds protest outside Broadcasting House to demand the corporation changes its policies
- The BBC has faced increasing criticism over its language over the past ten days
There was anger today after the BBC described an ISIS-inspired shooting in Brussels as a ‘terror attack’, despite refusing to do the same for Hamas who slaughtered Israeli civilians.
The company has faced increasing criticism for its refusal to describe Hamas as terrorists, instead using words such as “militants” – despite the government classifying Hamas as a “terrorist organization.”
Last night, shortly after reports of the double murder in Belgium emerged, the BBC published an article with the headline: ‘Brussels shooting: suspects at large after two Swedes killed in terror attack.’
The use of the term ‘terror’ was quickly picked up and the headline was later changed to ‘Shooting in Brussels: two Swedes killed and suspect still at large’.
In response to criticism, a BBC spokesperson said: ‘This was a mistake – the headline should have attributed the words so it was quickly changed.’
It comes as hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Broadcasting House last night to protest against the BBC’s editorial policies.
Last night, shortly after reports of the double murder in Belgium emerged, the BBC published an article with this headline. It was later changed, with a spokesperson calling it an ‘error’
The company has faced increasing criticism for its refusal to label Hamas as terrorists
Social media users reacted angrily after seeing the original headline last night
The first headline sparked outrage on social media.
Nick Timothy, former special adviser to former Prime Minister Theresa May, tweeted: ‘I thought counting Jews was not a criticism, and not the title of the BBC style guide.’
Investigative report David Collier said: ‘1,300 Jews are slaughtered. According to the BBC it is not terrorism.
A shooting in Brussels and within an hour… The BBC says it’s terrorism. Utter b******s.”
Meanwhile, journalist Nicole Lampert called the BBC’s first headline “extraordinary” and added: “The BBC has refused to use the term ‘terror attack’ for the Hamas massacre, yet they used it within two hours of the Brussels massacre used.’
During the protest at Broadcasting House last night, Gideon Falter, the chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism, asked: “How many dead Israelis will it take for the BBC to find the courage to call out terror by its name?”
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Broadcasting House last night as Downing Street insisted there was no ban on the BBC describing Hamas fighters as ‘terrorists’.
Pro-Israel rally took place last night outside Broadcasting House on Portland Place
Some protesters held banners addressed to BBC bosses. One read: “If the king can name Hamas terrorists, so can you.”
Yesterday the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Ofcom’s rules did not stop the company from using the term.
When asked about the broadcaster’s decision not to use the term, he said: ‘The legal position is that Hamas is a banned terrorist group – the term terrorist is an accurate legal description.
‘The BBC has described other attacks as terrorism.
‘To put it in context, the attack we witnessed in Israel was the third deadliest terror attack in the world since 1970. So there are no restrictions on the BBC using that term, especially from Ofcom.’
Other Ofcom-related broadcasters, including ITV and Sky News, have no set policy on the term ‘terrorists’, but have previously used it in their reporting.
The BBC raised the issue last night in statements on the complaints section of its website, stressing that ‘all aspects of our reporting have been carefully considered to ensure we report on developments accurately and with due impartiality’.
It added: ‘The BBC, along with many other UK and global news organisations, uses the word ‘terrorist’ but attributes it. We have made it clear to our public that Hamas is banned as a terrorist organization by Britain.”
Some protesters held banners addressed to BBC bosses, reading: ‘If the King can call Hamas terrorists, so can you’
Protesters outside Broadcast House called on the BBC to change its position on not naming Hamas terrorists