What do you think of the stories we have covered? Do you have anything to say about the programme or the issues of the day? You can read your February views from this page.
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Students these days
Alleged corruption in Kenya
Quote for the Day
Islam and the West debate
Write to us
Read January's feedback
The e-mails published reflect the balance of opinion received.
GRIME [15 February 2006]
Will you people get off your high horses and stop being elitist codgers? I have long dreamt about the fusion of hiphop music and classical music, and this is a wonderful development. Anyone who claims to know anything about either form of music can see the numerous ways the styles overlap. I await the day that the Last Night of the Proms will be accompanied by grime style rhythms and the melodies of East London.
Nkem Ifejika, London
Bad thing trying to mix grime with classical - its a bad chemical reaction. Forget political correctness, these two sounds should not be mixed. I work in the music business and, believe me, if they need to mix they have both failed. I love classical and I love street music, but they should not be integrated because it's bordering on the ridiculous. Please educate yourself!
Music Mark, Birmingham
Newsnight's item (amongst all the minor issues in the world) on "Black" music not getting reasonable recognition seemed strange. A male or female, no matter what colour of skin, talking badly and often incoherently, over music or drums is not a good reason for recognition. Trying to link North American ghetto inspired rap music with the Last night of the Proms is frankly bizarre.
Mick Morris, Oakham
SMOKING BAN [14 February 2006]
It's kind of inviting a "prohibition" type of situation. I am 43 and I will not enter a pub in which I am not allowed to smoke. Tony's "nanny state" has gone crazy. Sadly the Tories would not reverse the stupid vote.
Peter Stitt, Hull
As I understand it the smoking ban was to ban smoking inside pubs and clubs. My landlord has already discovered a way round the legislation, by installing a cover in the pub's garden and buying four garden heaters. I'm sure he won't be the only one to take this path once the legislation is enacted next year. Which has the greatest impact on society - some second hand smoke or thousands of tonnes of extra (unnecessary) CO2 emissions?
Steve Reeves, Brighton
The smoking ban will have undesirable and unexpected consequences, apart from reducing the opportunities for stress-relieving. It is a draconian attack on a minority, a victory for the self-righteous - and probably not the last, because these powers go to the head of the powerful and they never know when to stop. The statistics on smoking are suspect and almost any mad claim has gone unrefuted because in this present climate no one dares say a word without being shouted down. This is a more unhealthy condition than any physical damage done by tobacco.
Owen Swindale, Carlisle
Not being allowed to smoke when and where people like is not an infringement on liberties. No more than it is an infringement by not being able to pour filth into our rivers. We only have to look at the benefits that smokeless zones have brought to inner cities. Cigarettes do not only kill the smoker it also kills the people who are forced to inhale their habit. I hope the next move is to ration driving miles to drivers of cars.
R Berrow, Birmingham
As an oncology nurse I fully welcome the ban on smoking in public places. I hope (possibly naively) that this may help to reduce incidences of lung cancer in the long run. Lung cancer is not just a disease of smokers but of everyone around them, passive smoking cannot be allowed to become a passive issue. However, I think it would be almost impossible to police a total ban on smoking. Health education and smoking cessation advice should still be actively encouraged by the Government and health care professionals to help people make an informed and responsible decision.
With regard to the smoking ban, one has to wonder what it has come to when a government departs from its own manifesto in order to save face. Proof, if any more were needed, that this government is more interested in political expediency that it is in democracy.
P Marsden, Cheshire
Is it not strange that MPs can ban smoking in "all" pubs and clubs but the new law will not apply within the House of Commons. They are all hypocrites.
Brian Carson, London
If you smoke I urge you to stop smoking. I say this because I smoked for 54 years and this is what I got for it: COPD, diabetes and heart problems. I quit six years ago - if I hadn't I would be dead by now.
Yahudah Ben Yisra'EL, Tucson
Once again we have the spectacle of MPs representing constituencies in Scotland voting on an issue which affect solely the citizens of England, but upon which issue they cannot vote in Scotland. Once again, we will see this aspect 'glossed over' by the BBC when it covers the Smoking Ban issue in programmes such as Newsnight! Come on BBC, how about a bit of statesmanlike impartiality whereby the interests of the 50 million people in England are properly considered for a change. It is high time that majority interests were given due prominence, rather than those of minorities. That would be more like true democracy!
Alan England, York
IDENTITY CARDS [13 February 2006]
Now the Government's got its ID cards. What provision is it going to make when people get mugged not for their wallets but for their ID card?
Chris Withall, Purley
The proposed ID card (rightly pointed out by another of your viewers as in reality a Very Large Database About Us) will provide this and any future government with enormous power to control and menace law-abiding and peaceful citizens. It will provide little protection against crime and terrorism by those intent on committing these offences. This is a very bad idea. We will need protection from our own government, and it will cost an arm and a leg.
Duncan Smith, London
Identity cards will be cloned just like bank cards so that will not deter terrorists or criminals. The true reason for the identity card is to erode our civil liberties and it will only take another piece of mainland terrorism before they are made compulsory. So 99.9% of us are made totally identifiable just to catch those who will probably be too clever to be caught. Pull the other one, or better still go and catch Osama.
Noel Dobson, York
Why do you insist on referring to the "ID card" issue? That is playing the government's game. It's really the "ID register and card" issue: the key to the whole thing is the database. Just another card is exactly what the government wants to advertise.
Louis Lemieux, London
Sorry to disagree on ID Cards safeguarding our identity. People like me will pay through the nose to prove who we are. Terrorists will pay rather less for a fake ID card to prove who they are not.
Julian Corner, Whitby
NEPAL [13 February 2006]
What is happening in Nepal is not competition amongst power-hungry people but a deep-rooted struggle, which has serious repercussions for the whole of South Asia. Democracy came in Europe via industrialisation and defeat of feudalism. Several centuries later, that's what is happening in Nepal. But apart from women's oppression, this central aspect of the struggle in Nepal is not coming through in BBC reports. I expected improvements in Sue's reports but have been disappointed.
Tushar Sarkar, Harrow
I was in Nepal in 1971 and I'm behind the communists. GRINDING POVERTY was prevalent then in the age of the hippy. I'll never forget the medieval conditions.
Ken Connor, London
STEM CELLS [9 February 2006]
Your Newsnight report on stem cells was informative and it was good to see the coverage given to the current progress with adult stem cells. It is not widely known (yet) how much progress is being made, clinically, with adult stem cells, compared to the lack of progress using embryonic stem cells (no clinical trials to date and still technical problems with tumours and cancer formation). Yet almost daily there are encouraging reports of progress using adult stem cells in research and treatment for diseases. There is also increasing evidence that stem cells are present in far more tissues and organs than once thought and that these cells are capable of developing into more kinds of cell than previously imagined.
Philippa Taylor, Stamford
STUDENTS THESE DAYS [9 February 2006]
The item about the lack of reading and thinking skills in university students was shocking even to those of us who left secondary modern schools in the early sixties before all the educational tinkering from Tony Crosland, Shirley Williams and others. However, it was not as shocking as the test devised by Newsnight to determine if the undergraduates in the group came up to scratch. What have we come to when students asked to spell the word "separate" are given a multiple choice question! This is about the level expected of a 10 year old in 1958. No wonder the admissions tutors are in despair.
Graham Rawlings, Selby
HOLOCAUST DENIAL [9 February 2006]
Thank you for inviting me to contribute to your report on Holocaust denial in the Arab world yesterday, and for making it clear that I myself am not a Holocaust denier. However, you managed to get my name spelt wrong (it's Siddiqui, not Siddiqi), and more significantly, to promote me to Dr. in fact, I never did get round to completing my PhD, and have certainly never claimed that title. I also would not claim to be a historian, except in the sense that a journalist may be considered (in Phillip Graham's phrase) "a historian in a hurry". I guess the hurry bit probably prompted the errors, but it would probably be wise to check such things directly with your guests in future.
Iqbal Siddiqui, Slough
We apologise for this error, and have also acknowledged this mistake on our corrections page.
As one who has sometimes been critical of the content of BBC programmes and even of the whole BBC ethos, I am delighted to be able to express my appreciation for the sincere, courageous item by Tim Whewell about anti-Semitic cartoons in the Middle Eastern media, holocaust denial and a Syrian-made film propagating the Jewish blood libel. I found this story particularly interesting and I commend you for broadcasting it. Well done, Newsnight! May I say, too, that I thought Kirsty Wark, in her interview with Prince Hassan of Jordan following Tim Whewell's item, was refreshingly questioning and probing on the subject of Middle Eastern anti-Semitism, albeit in a courteous way. I liked the manner in which she kept trying to bring him back to the point. In my opinion these are not isolated examples of excellence. I have noticed that several Newsnight stories, and sometimes whole Newsnight programmes, have been very watchable and perceptive of late.
Tony Widdows, Kingston upon Thames
I was deeply disappointed by the content of the top news item tonight. The talk of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, I believe, was a poor effort to divert attention from the current crisis with the cartoon row. I cannot understand how the two can be compared in any case. For exmaple, Ms Wark seemed so interested in how people can question the holocaust on one hand and protest over the cartoons at the same time. The two are totally different, one is questioning a historical event which academics do all the time and the other is insulting the founder and central figure in a major world religion. In any case, if people feel they have the right to offend a world religion, why should we be surprised when others question a historical event? They can claim the same right too.
Asif Rehman, Peterborough
We do not need to look at the Middle East for creeping anti-Semitism. The recent decision of the General Synod to disinvest with companies trading with Israel is a prime example. This lead the former Archbishop, Lord Carey, to declare, "I am ashamed to be an Anglican, and "ignores the trauma of ordinary Jewish people in Israel subjected to terrorist attacks." Unsurprisingly, a counter motion, offered by the "Anglicans for Israel," was not allowed on the grounds there was no more time for debate after a mere hour. Makes you think, doesn't it?
Brian Lux, LLandudno
Well done, Newsnight. At last, a programme that has the balls to show things as they really are. Thank you for exposing the rich vein of anti-Semitism that runs through Muslim countries. This has been an under-reported story for far too long.
I thought Kirsty Wark's interview with Prince Hassan of Jordan wasn't very good. Why was she trying to corner the Prince who was being very moderate and sensible? It looked like she was trying to make him say certain things by being very aggressive. Not one of her best interviews.
ALLEGED CORRUPTION IN KENYA [8 February 2006]
I'm so excited after seeing the Fergal Keane report on corruption in Kenya. Corruption is the biggest barrier to economic development in Africa, yet it is so under-reported. Wars and famines take precedence. At last, the issue had made it on to the main news agenda. It's our money, taxpayer's money, that is finding its way into the pockets of corrupt politicians and businessmen. The report will put pressure on our politicians to make sure this doesn't carry on. John Githongo has to be congratulated for his shrewd decision to bring his evidence to Britain. By broadcasting it here on the BBC it will have a bigger impact on fighting corruption in Kenya, than if it were broadcast in Kenya.
Annamarie Cumiskey, Highbury
I was bitterly disappointed by Kirsty's feeble interview with the Kenyan High Commissioner on mega government corruption in that country. Instead of nailing him to the spot, she let him bumble on about leaving the matter to government inquiries. Come off it!
Can do BETTER!
Terry Benson, Faro
Well, the issue of the Kenyans suffering from hunger, an issue that the world dealt with in pre-independence time, should not arise at this juncture at all costs. It is equally embarrassing that the country Kenya is where the multi-billion shillings end in individuals' pockets while others cannot even afford the primary basic needs - surely, this is a great drawback to my country and its leaders.
Kevin Gogo, Nairobi
CAMERON'S FLIP-FLOPS [8 February 2006]
The Dalai Lama wears flip-flop sandals and he is very successful in his own way! Not that there is any resemblance with Mr Cameron.
Dagmar Bernstorff, New Delhi, India
I object to Alistair Campbell being on Newsnight. Why should some un-elected person be given airtime? My personal view is that this man has done Britain no favours. Use an elected politician to speak for the government - it's about time we heard from our elected MPs - not some jumped up journalist with ideas of his own importance. His views are invalid.
Richard Jeffs, Birmingham
HAMAS [8 February 2006]
After watching Newsnight's interview with Hamas spokesmen there is a glimmer of hope in the Middle East. Here we have a government that has been elected democratically through the ballot box and we need to let them speak and see what their policies are, rather than boycotting them from inception. Let us not condemn the child before it's born!
How absurd your report looks when the reporter explains that Hamas is now accepting an Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders, when on the very same day as this report was broadcast a senior Hamas leader, Ahmed Bahar, announced on Palestinian TV: "we...will step up our retaliations. We must continue our armed struggle to liberate Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa and the WHOLE of Palestine" (ie Israel). Being impartial means providing an accurate account of the facts. The report on Tuesday's Newsnight on Hamas has failed miserably to do this. Worse still, it misleads the British public into thinking that Hamas want peace, while not showing their leaders own words which, unfortunately, have once again returned to the same old rhetoric with open calls for the destruction of Israel. Please try a little harder. Balanced reporting is not much to ask, especially from the BBC.
Uri Shub, Leeds
I do become extremely disappointed and frustrated when you don't select an intellectual spokesperson to defend matters to do with Islam and Muslims. For example, the debate about Islam against the West, the Muslim representatives I felt were absolutely terrible. Many of my friends felt the same. I hope next time you select better representatives. Keep up the outstanding work and keep showing those excellent news reports.
QUOTE FOR THE DAY [7 February 2006]
Today's Quote for the Day:
"The idea that this is still a Christian country is laughable. The Good Book is about as relevant to most of our lives as the ration book."
TV arts pundit and best-selling author Tony Parsons.
Tony Parsons' comment is highly offensive. A lot of us, whilst not all being Church goers, believe in the scriptures and their moral message - to say the "good book" is not relevant has a reflection on his relevance and where our rudderless society stands to-day.
John Hodder, London
Tony Parsons is absolutely right - and guess who is to blame? The Church, especially the utterly faithless C of E Bishops. They are all things to all men (and women!) and change their beliefs as the situation pleases them. Name one Bishop, since the days of Bishop Trevor Huddleston, who has been prepared to be stand up and be counted! And if the weak-kneed bishops believe in nothing, who can blame their flock? Sadly Rome is not much better - they have devalued the Blessed Sacrament to the extent that a nun brought my sick wife her communion in her hand bag! My dear father, whose nightly prayer was "God be merciful to me a sinner" would have been absolutely horrified at the way the whole Church behaves today and in their total lack of faith.
Tim Parker, Stoke Poges
This is rubbish. In fact just about everything Mr Parsons, master of the quip and the quick smirk, says is rubbish, and I find both this remark and its source offensive. Thou shalt not kill irrelevant?
Roger Harris-Small, Buckinghamshire
I am responding to your quotation from Tony Parsons, who seems to be out of touch with many people like myself and many friends of mine in this country. I do not go to church, I have never attended a dedicated bible class (apart from one or two at a tender age) and would probably not be regarded by an independent observer as a practising Christian for those reasons, but in my view, I am exactly that. I do not confuse the antics of the Church and the attendant clergy with the words of God and the importance of leading a Christian life in line with those words.
Paul Daniel, Tunbridge Wells
SPARKS [7 February 2006]
Having watched the item about Sparks, I must say it was the lamest piece of padding I have seen in a long time. Poorly shot, badly recorded, cliche ridden script - it had the lot!
PK Roberts, Herts
CARTOON ROW [2 February 2006]
Enjoyed the debate on the Danish cartoon furore, but it was marred by your breathtaking failure to challenge the Hizb ut Tahrir spokesman. All the more ironic in view of the BNP feature which followed. Would you allow Nick Griffin onto the programme and fail to challenge his extremist statements? Exactly. So why fail to challenge the Hizb ut Tahrir guest with their well-documented history of incitement against Jews, which they regularly justify with quotes from the Koran? Your own programme even did an extensive investigation into them a couple of years ago - just Google Hizb ut Tahrir and you'll find it! Instead, you presented them as just another Muslim group, without mentioning that they're banned in many countries for their hate speech. A baffling omission and a sad departure from your usual high standards.
David (Mazower), London
Newsnight is teetering on the edge of selling out. Once upon a time it was a good source of news, now it is a mouthpiece for appeasement. Tonight's Newsnight didn't hard question radical Islam - it allowed a moderate female Muslim to do that. Shouldn't this have been Kirsty Wark's job? Further, I do not think the idea that not following our European friends is pragmatic - I call it fear and being fearful to admit it! What I fear is that our national rights are being sold out because everyone is afraid of political correctness - it is wrong to be British and proud - it is wrong to be culturally proud of being white and British. And why? Because the ethnic minorities - specifically the Muslims - would be offended.
Jamie Taylor, Soho, London
We consider ourselves to be civilised. Civilised people are supposed to consider other people's feelings. Freedom of expression at all costs can offend and is not a mark of civilisation. It runs counter to the teachings of great leaders, Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Ghandi, etc.
Alex Rothney, Hickling
I am deeply shocked and angered to hear that the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) were shown on Newsnight. There is no benefit in repeating this on national TV except to incite further hatred and anger amongst the Muslim community. A very stupid decision indeed.
Rizwan Hussain, Preston
I disagree with Newsnight's assertion that we in Britain do not have the same sense as in other EU countries that European values are being undermined and attacked. BBC journalists and reporters may mislead themselves that we are not feeling under threat, but I can assure you that most British people do feel that their way of life is under threat. The point is the liberal elite deny us the privilege of being offended.
It is necessary to understand that each country has its own culture, laws and regulations. If any country in the world cannot freely express its views or publish things that challenge long-held beliefs, or make fun of things around the world because there are those who would seek to be violent, it is unacceptable. If we continue to be submissive and give in to those who threaten violence for the smallest thing it will be a dark day. Where will all this end? A religion that continuously states that it is peaceful continues to advocate terrible things in the name of religion. I hope those elders and leaders in the communities defuse this unnecessary level of hysteria and show tolerance and accept the need to co-exist with all faiths and stop looking for special treatments that will only end up isolating them and causing resentment to those people who value freedom and democracy. I realise that there are a lot of unnecessary hardships caused to innocent people all over the world, but using violence to get corrective actions is not the answer.
It's good to see that you're discussing the issue regarding the cartoons, as the freedom of speech granted by democracy should not be abused by degrading other people's beliefs and faith. In light of this, many may find it distasteful if you show the cartoons on the show. Thank you very much
Mohammed Ali Abdool, Rochdale
I am absolutely infuriated by the conduct of your guests about the Islam debate, and the lack of opposition to the inflammatory remarks made. Surely your presenters wouldn't accept comments that said Judaism is inherently evil and against "our" values?
I'm astonished at the double standards employed by the BBC regarding the row over the Mohammed cartoons. On Newsnight you employed a cartoonist to recreate part of one of the cartoons without depicting the face of Mohammed in order to be "sensitive" to the views of Muslims. Why didn't the BBC show equal "sensitivity" to the thousands of Christians who wrote, phoned or e-mailed them in protest at the depiction of Jesus as a thumb-sucking, nappy-wearing homosexual in Jerry Springer The Opera? Why is it one standard for Muslims and another for Christians? Actually, we all know the reason why, but no-one at the BBC has the courage to admit it.
Anonymous, South West
The European Convention on Human Rights Article 9 declares that people should be free to practice their religion in private and public. These cartoons are an attempt to demonise Islam and Muslims and help to fuel anti-Muslim hatred, and should banned. People should consider the follow-on before considering publishing such derogatory items.
Wleed Haq, Birmingham
As to the cartoon of Prophet Mohammed. It shows no respect for Islam as a religion, and it is an affront to such a great religion. Because there are extremists who do not hold to the faith as we believe it to be we should not insult all of Islam. We must all learn to build bridges and not walls if we are ever to know peace and the practice of compassion and mercy, and justice for all humanity.
The Rev'd Joe Pummill, Honolulu
Freedom of speech has its limits and these limits span British life - why is it they stop at the door of Muslims?
Shaida Nabi, Manchester
I am a nightly viewer of Newsnight. I am utterly disgusted at your avoidance of the Danish cartoons that were the basis of your first feature. The elaborate illustration with an "artist" was utterly unnecessary. I pay my license fee on the assumption that the BBC provides a uniquely impartial service. Your actions, or should I say inaction, are an utter failure to fulfil the BBC charter. I was not particularly bothered by Islamic threats to free speech, but given that even the BBC's flagship news programme apparently has to avoid treading on the toes of fanatics, I am now extremely concerned and suspicious.
Damon De Ionno, London
I am a British Muslim. And, yes, I am shocked and concerned that the European press did not appreciate that this would insult 99.9% of the Muslim world, or that they just did not care about other people's sensitivities. The moral base of society in Europe looks like being "what can we get away with" and if so this is a sad story. Yes, they can get away with it but if that's the attitude that they are taking and then hide under freedom of speech then they are living a lie. As a Muslim I will be judged on the day of Judgement, not on the actions of my organs but my heart - and its intentions! This is what the journalists who got these cartoons published need to ask themselves - what was their intention? I think I have more respect for the BNP - at least they say who they are and stand by it - right or wrong this can be discussed. But when you hide under banners - "freedom of speech, etc." - that is not acceptable. We need to understand what their intention real intention is!
Deen Ossman, London
Why not publish the offending cartoons on your website? The British press is a disgrace to the concept of free speech. We should stand side by side with our European friends.
James O'Brien, Belfast
We are now apparently living in a world of "Don't do or say as we do, just do as we say, or else". The Islamic world can say what they like about us - they can depict our leaders with their images and slogans on city walls, etc., and we must accept that. But, beware, should you say any thing or imply any thing we don't like...
Pearce William, Phillip Island Victoria, Australia
I wish that you had the courage to show the cartoons of Mohammed. They are at the centre of a major incident, and it is only proper to allow your viewers a chance to see them and judge for themselves. I had to wade through the Danish website instead, and found that most of them are completely inoffensive. Your compromise of showing an artist sketching random bits of the cartoon was completely farcical. Have some courage, and report the story in full.
David Yoves, London
It seems a great shame that people who believe in an omnipotent God somehow fail to believe in him enough to think that he can stand up for himself. All the protests, threats and flag-burning create the wrong impression.
Colin Rowe, Southampton
Satire and humour are very necessary to act as a safety valve under the intense pressure of politics and religion. We may not like it sometimes but it is a sure sign of a free and mature society which has confidence. Ask any victim of Communism or Fascism. Beware the slippery slope of censorship and it's inevitable legislation.
Morgan Reynolds, Richmond
While I feel it may be necessary to discuss the issues these pictures have raised I don't feel it is necessary to broadcast such images. Whilst freedom of speech should be protected this does not allow you to be insulting. Many Muslims will question why these pictures are being publicised. What messages are being sent - is it a message of hate?
Zainab Afzal, East London
Having endured a rather depressing edition of the programme - seemingly devoted to the erosion of the right to free speech promoted by religious fundamentalism - to end on Plastic Bertrand was genius. Oh, and please, never play that ghastly Radio 4 theme tune again.