The British Broadcasting Corporation, popularly known as the BBC, on Friday refused to call the mass shootings inside two mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand a terrorist attack seemingly because the perpetrators were not Muslims.
This was after terrorist Brendon Terrant, an Australian national shot 49 Muslim worshippers dead by shooting them in the chest and head in Christchurch during the Friday congregation. The terrorist, who was later captured by the New Zealand Police along with three others had streamed his gory act live on Facebook.
But the BBC’s rolling coverage on the Christchurch’s terrorist attack refused to refer it as an act of terror. The British public broadcaster repeatedly used terms such as ‘New Zealand Mosques attacks’ in their coverage both on TV and online platforms.
This despite the fact that both Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, and her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, were quick to declare the shootings inside the Christchurch mosques as terrorist attack. Ardern had said, “It is clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack. From what we know, it does appear to have been very well planned. Two explosive devices attached to suspects’ vehicles have now been found and they have been disarmed.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia was grieving with New Zealanders over the ‘extremist, right-wing terrorist attack.’
But the BBC’s refusal to call it a terrorist attack evoked angry reactions from journalists and social media users. Former BBC Editor Rifat Jawaid took to Twitter to express his outrage and call out BBC for its glaring editorial biases. He wrote, “Hey @BBCWorld and @BBCNews, as a former BBC Editor, I feel incredibly disappointed with your glaringly biased editorials. Both Aus and NZ PMs have called #ChristChurch carnage as terrorist attack. But for your TV and online editors, this is only mosque attack! Shameful!”
Hey @BBCWorld and @BBCNews, as a former BBC Editor, I feel incredibly disappointed with your glaringly biased editorials. Both Aus and NZ PMs have called #ChristChurch carnage as terrorist attack. But for your TV and online editors, this is only mosque attack! Shameful! pic.twitter.com/HGjAnBrQ2m
— Rifat Jawaid (@RifatJawaid) March 15, 2019
British journalist Sunny Hundal wrote, “The Prime Minister of New Zealand has clearly labelled it as a ‘terrorist attack’ – so why won’t the BBC? (pic via @juliamacfarlane). This is really odd and inconsistent.”
The Prime Minister of New Zealand has clearly labelled it as a ‘terrorist attack’ – so why won’t the BBC? (pic via @juliamacfarlane)
This is really odd and inconsistent. pic.twitter.com/jB8cuRgb46
— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) March 15, 2019
Taking a portion from the BBC Guidelines, Hundal wrote, “They say: “We try to avoid the use of the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution.”
They could attribute it to the NZ PM and security services?”
Another journalist Siraj Datoo quoted an old BBC story, which had termed an attack near the British Parliament in 2017 as ‘terror attack’.
it’s the headline here too, which is clearly not attributed https://t.co/7PoQmguG4n
— Siraj Datoo (@dats) March 15, 2019
The anger against the BBC wasn’t confined to journalists. Other social media users too condemned the iconic British broadcaster with many asking it to have some ‘shame.’
Watching @BBCWorld now and shocking how BBC reporter from Australia not prepared to use word “terrorism” when discussing the NZ mosque terror attacks! Instead saying “mass killings” ! Sick. Why the reluctance to use the word “terrorism” for what is clearly a terrorist attack?
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) March 15, 2019
Being Hindu, we have be subject to Islamic terror. I would still condemn BBC (and other publications of the west) calling a clear cut terrorist attack by a white supremacist as a ‘shooting’. Have some shame!
— hindavi_swarajya (@iamherefordrama) March 15, 2019
It was a pure form of terrorism where Muslims are deliberately targeted in this attack but the international media would not call it terrorism bcs here Muslims are killed.
— 🇵🇰 ڈاکٹر ایمان آفریدی (@imaan_Afridi1) March 15, 2019
Not ‘shooting’ and ‘shooter’ (!) It’s a terror attack and there’s a terrorist ‼️ 😡 oo sorry he is not a Muslim? If he was a Muslim and attacked to Christians ,he would be a ‘terrorist ‘ ⁉️@mjawaid @newzealand @BBCBreaking @BBCWorld @Reuters @NBCNews @UN https://t.co/1nDFMcXOdA
— Meftun Deniz💤 (@meftundenizz) March 15, 2019
Disgusting terrorist incident. Also fixed the BBC headline. Disappointed with BBC News – Christchurch mosque ‘Terror Attack’: Forty nine ‘innocent People’ dead in New Zealand attacks https://t.co/nHzGXmoLaK
— Paul middleton (@middletonlord) March 15, 2019
BBC’s online coverage too refused to mention it a terrorist attack.
Terrorist Brendon Terrant had opened fire inside a mosque in Christchurch during the Friday prayers, killing 49 Muslim worshippers.