A BBC editor who selected an Islamic State sympathiser to feature in a documentary has been appointed as the corporation’s new head of religious programming.
Fatima Salaria is the second Muslim to hold the position after Aaqil Ahmed became the BBC’s head of religion and ethics in 2009.
Mrs. Salaria was appointed as a BBC Assistant Commissioner in 2015 during a drive to promote people from “BAME [Black and Minority Ethnic] backgrounds… designed to ‘open doors’ to new talent from diverse backgrounds.”
In September 2016, the BBC also appointed Martin Bashir, who once suggested someone should “sh*t” in Sarah Palin’s mouth on American television, as their religious affairs correspondent.
Mrs. Salaria commissioned the reality TV show Muslims Like Us last year, described as a ‘Muslim Big Brother’.
It featured Anthony Small – also known as Abdul Haqq – a supporter of jailed radical cleric Anjem Choudary who has defended Islamic State and was involved with the banned terror group Al-Muhajiroun.
He was even arrested in Dover in 2014 and later charged with plotting to go to Syria to fight with Islamic State after spreading terrorist material online.
Defending the decision, the BBC claimed Mr. Small “represent[s a] voice” within the British Muslim population.
Professor Anthony Glees, of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, told the Daily Mail: “If a BBC executive makes a programme that is notorious and then the BBC promotes them, it tells me that the BBC has in that area lost its moral compass.”
The BBC defended Mrs. Salaria Friday night: “People should be judged by their ability to do the job, not their religious background,” a spokesman told The Times. “Fatima was appointed as she is an extremely talented commissioner.
“We’ve strengthened our focus on religion and ethics within television and have been clear that we plan to do even more to reflect the role of religion in modern Britain, with Christianity at the heart of our coverage.”
In May 2016, a report on the BBC’s religious output across TV and radio claimed the corporation was biased toward Christianity.
At the end of last year, it was reported that there was an internal push to increase coverage of other religions, which could include the broadcasting of the Muslim call to Friday prayers.