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Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
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Comments on "A Question Of Leadership", first broadcast on Sunday 21 August 2005 at 22:15 BST

The e-mails published are reflective of the balance of opinion received.


By watching this programme, I found that what the Quran says is completely different from what fanatical clerics preach to young muslims in the world. As a hindu person, I do respect other religious beliefs and do hate fanaticism about religion. Also i believe in humans coming before religion.
Brin Kasinathan, Harrow, London

BBC is showing something which in my opinion is blasphemy. I am deeply hurt by Panorama .I don't know whether there is any limit to what to show on national, state-run, people-funded TV .When a significant proportion of people in the UK is Muslim, is it fair to hurt someone's religious faith?
Dr Arifur Rahman, Newport, UK

Why do you keep picking on muslims? You just seem to find negatives about the religion, and it is programmes like yours that cause racist abuse and hatred towards muslims when they are seen in the public. How about showing the stronger point in Islam, the peace and harmony that we potray? I found the programme to be very offensive for myself and found quite unbelievable that the BBC could allow this programme to go ahead. Again I fear that in the days to come muslims will be subject to hatred from non-muslims. It is this hatred you are promoting not terror against muslims.
Anonymous

Given that the new Pope was reported only this afternoon as indicating that any deviation from the Roman Catholic doctrine is unacceptable and has recently gone on record with less than positive comments about Jews and Muslims perhaps Panorama would like to consider a parallel study of how the Pope and no doubt many other non-Muslim "fundametalists" also modulate their messages according to their audience. Surely it is only by being scrupulously balanced that we can have a useful overview? Anything less only serves to further divide our communities.
Mossadek Talby, Geneva, Switzerland

As a muslim woman born in the UK, I feel that the representation of all muslims is not made. Too many do it for their own benefits. Yes, Islam is a way of life but the problem we have is representation is always made by 'men' who don't always take the views of all. Apart from that too many people in the Muslim community will bring in their own cultural beliefs and try to support these 'traditions' by the use of religion.
Maryam, Blackburn, Lancashire

The Panorama programme talked about the Islamic Foundation, and its insistence to follow a "controversial" Imam from Pakistan. Mr Ware asked the MCB to dissociate itself from the group, which the MCB did not wish to do because it felt the group had the right to propagate its view. Is that not the same line taken by Tony Blair, and the general public, in regards to the BNP? Even though their views are objectionable, they still have the right to propagate their views. So why the hypocrisy? It seems to Mr Ware an extremist Muslims should be put in jail, whereas an extremist white person has the right to voice their views.
J Bro, Scotland

J Bro, There is no hypocrisy in this view. If the BNP was an affiliate of the Labour party then you would have a point, but they are not. Asking the MCB to dissociate its self from this group is not an unreasonible request.
Mark, Scotland

How can the BBC justify presenting a distorted view and be responsible for creating an environment of hatred against decent and law abiding Muslims?
Mohammed
I am shocked to see that the BBC has produced and presented a biased view against Islam - a clear manifestation of Islamophobia. Anyone with an ounce of Islamic knowledge would be able to tell the difference between what is presented here by John Ware and the real Islam.

How can the BBC justify presenting a distorted view and be responsible for creating an environment of hatred against decent and law abiding Muslims?
Mohammed

One should remember that there is hardly a religion in the world that does not see itself as being the correct path of guidance that leads to eternal bliss and happiness in the Hereafter, to the exception of others. In that regard Islam is no different. We believe that Islam is the true path to salvation, just as Christians and Jews believe that their religions are paths to the truth.

As Muslims, we make the essense of Islamic monotheism clear to those around us (by utilising the Quran and Prophetic tradition)and also, when needed, expose the flaws in the arguments of other faiths. To criticise, attack or silence this religious freedom is wrong. Further, the events that have led to this discussion are the recent spate of bombings perpetrated by Jihadist (takfeeree) extremists who have borrowed more from Marx than Muhammad in their revolutionary ideologies. I would argue that Jihadists today are modernists, not orthodox traditionalists.
Abu Khadeejah, Birmingham, UK

Thank you for discrediting all good muslims of the UK. I thought the BBC was always fair in its views, but I see your true colours are coming out now. This indiscriminant attack on Muslims is appalling, unwarranted,and quite disgusting. When and where have you ever shown or dicussed the atrocities committed by Israel? The hundreds killed and made homeless each day seem to mean nothing to you. Is it a crime for us to feel for our Muslim brothers?
Usman Patel, Bolton

I find it very worrying that Jonathon Ware ( and the BBC ) should be describing Britain as a " secular country". We are a Christian country and this should be acknowledged by all people who live here.
Penuel Ellis-Brown, West Sussex, UK

John Ware's programme is misguided and misses the point; every serious academic study of terrorism shows that religious extremism is not the cause of terrorism. It is caused primarily by military occupation. There have always been extremists in every religion, but anti-western terrorism has only occurred with western occupation of the Persian Gulf in the past two decades.

He could have made exactly the same programme about the Christian Zionists who advocate the elimination of Palestinians from God-given Israeli land.

He's also wrong that the UK is a secular society: the Queen is the head of the church; Bishops are appointed to the House of Lords; the St George's cross; celebration of religious holidays, etc. This programme peddles the government's myth that the primary cause of terrorism is Islam, rather than its own violent policies against the Middle East.
Dr Richard Jackson, Buxton, Derbyshire

How can you allow such biased programme to be broadcast? It shows muslims in such a negative light. I always enjoyed watching BBC programmes but if it's going to be this biased then I am highly dissapointed. Please don't use my licence money to make a programme that offends me and is against my faith. The presenter is out to make all the non-Muslims hate us more and the tension between Muslims and non-Muslims will grow if you keep showing such a negative, anti-Islamic programme. Is this what you really want for Britain? I like living here. This is my home but you are not educating people but turning them against us.
Lutfun Naher, London

I think this programme was a huge failure. It was a complete attempt for the use of propaganda. Muslims have been described as the 'kafir'-hating community of Britain. This idea of our hate filled mosques preaching death to all non-Muslims is 100% incorrect.

I would like to put the idea of a non-Muslim who was objecting agianst the torture and inhuman treatment of innocent people in the world would not be at all looked upon like you have described them, this is a result of your rubbish programmes promoting hate against the Muslims.

I would like to see both views of the public on this message bored as we do live in a democracy with freedom of speach. As a British Asian, I believe the BBC, which is regarded to be involved with the government, should project Muslims in the true light and not provoke hatred through false ideas and picking contents of a context without the full explanation resulting in a secular Britain. The BBC are causing this secular Britain not showing the true idea that Muslims are fully intergrated with the 'west' through the same schools, universities, employment of non-Muslims.
Ferheen, West Yorkshire

The "Islamic" views represented in the programme are those of the Salafi or Wahhabi doctrine most prevelant in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This group is a minority - sadly a powerful one - in the Muslim world and their views are regarded by most Muslims as the western equivelant of Nazi views. Just because most Muslims in Britain come from Pakistan and follow this doctrine does not give the programme the right to generalise their views as those of all Muslims.

I am a Shia Muslim and therefore according to Salafis my blood is as forfeit as that of non-Muslims. Do not forget that it was colonial Britain who helped this bloodthirsty sect to rise to power in the early 20th century.

About the Palestinian issue, it's quite simple. If the UK was invaded by another nation and your homes were confiscated, and there was no army to defend it. Would you not rise against oppression by all means available?
H Alaskari, Bradford, UK

A superb programme. MCB and MAB have said one thing on camera and another off it. That is a shame and these organisations must come out against terrorism lest they be seen to walking hand in hand with them.
Alistair, London, UK

Although I do agree with the points raised, the way in which it was televised demonised the Muslim community which, at this current time, is not appropriate to build confidence between interfaith relations.
Mohammad Miah, London
I feel that the Panorama programme was heavily biased and does not protray the mainstream views of Muslims living in Britain. Although I do agree with the points raised, the way in which it was televised demonised the Muslim community which, at this current time, is not appropriate to build confidence between interfaith relations.

Furthermore I am annoyed at the fact that the current view is that the Muslim Council of Britain is the view of all Muslims, and that they represent all Muslims. This is not true and causes distress in the Muslim community. They are a group like any other and only represent a secular amount of Muslims.

Personally my disgust is the fact that all Muslims are being portrayed in this programme to be either fundamental or extremist. They based heavily on the bad sides and did not balance up the argument with the good sides. Furthermore they based on very extreme views from Muslims in this programme and does not show other views from Muslims.

This is further helping divide the communities within the UK and not unite them, which is currently being sought after. I just hope that this programme has not given the terrorists a foothole in recruitment because, as a Muslim myself, I have been insulted by the fact that it is assumed that the views of a few people, especially Sir Iqbal Secranie, is the view of all Muslims in the country; that as a Muslim myself I believe and think the same as him.

That is not true and I am distraught by the fact that this has not been balanced up in the show, and presents that the majority of Muslims as being anti-western as well as hatred againts other faiths. How will this help the government's cause of integration of Muslims into society when it is being presented in the show that all the Muslims have extreme views and are all becoming terrorists? It would have been better if that both sides of the argument were to be shown, to show all sides of the Muslim view rather than simply just one side.
Mohammad Miah, London, UK

So, suicide bombers targeting Israeli civilians in the occupied territories is wrong? Let's remember all these people in those areas willingly and complicity move to the occupied territory, knowing full well that it is illegal and a robbery of Palestinian land. By definition these people are undertaking a criminal act. Mr Ware badgered Iqbal Sacranie to denounce the Sheik in Palestine, who condoned suicide bombing. But does Mr Ware denounce, and thereby keep his distance, from the Americans because of their targeting of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagosaki? Or the Isreali Army, which also targets and destroys civilians and their homes?
T Bob, London

I find it incredible that such a fuss should be made about a group that makes up less than 3% of the UK population. The closing statement that British society will be shaped by such a minor group is as absurd, as the delusional notion that the UK could ever be a Caliphate.
Andy Iddon, London, UK

If that programme was not an attack on Islam, then I do not know what is. The programme set out to confuse and isolate Muslims even more. The agenda was simple: Muslims should not be political.
Azim, London, UK

Congratulations to John Ware and Panorama for having the courage to demonstrate the dual messages being peddled by the Imams, one to the outside world and an entirely different one to those within. John Ware's insightful questioning of Iqbal was a sight to behold.
Anon, London, UK

Having just watched the programme just now, I felt it was a great shame that it portrayed Muslims in such a negative light. As a Muslim, we do not believe in killing innocent people, but we do believe in defending land and religion. Is that so wrong? It would be nice if the viewers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, had the opportunity to see Islam as it is, a truly peaceful religion. Anyone reading the Qur'an with an open mind would see that.
Anon, London

It was clear that Mr Ware was not questioning Islam but he was questioning those groups claiming to have a big representation of muslims behind them into being open what they are really stand for and what their true position is
Rabia, Glasgow
"Also i believe in humans coming before religion. Brin Kasinathan, Harrow, London." Precisely. Mr John Ware was asking all the questions that should be asked and and explained. Loved the programme. It was clear that Mr Ware was not questioning Islam but he was questioning those groups claiming to have a big representation of muslims behind them (not true) into being open what they are really stand for and what their true position is. As a human being who happens to be Muslim some of their stance is unethical and this needs to be brought to the forefront. Well done to Mr Ware in his efforts.
Rabia, Glasgow

I am a young Muslim and I have always been interested to work with the BBC, in actual fact I'm studying journalism. But after watching that terrible programme showing Islam in a negative way, I must think again. I thought the BBC was a multicultural co-operation, with many viewers around the world. That's not a way to treat your Muslim viewers.
Marian, London, England

Bloody brilliant, the presenter hit the nail on the head about how the Saudis fund their own translations of the Quran and are spreading books which are basically full of their own hardline and false translation of Islam.

The leader of the MCB showed himself up big time, he had no coherent and believable answer to any question put to him and I am beginning to see why people think they are crap. Please, if any of these so called hardline Muslims are reading this, use your common sense when some books feed you bull about Islam, it is a very tolerant and peaceful religion and it is being torn to shreds by these so-called scholars who are not very wise at all and just want to line their pockets.

Islam says your dress should be modest and according to the tradition of where you live so trousers and a loose top are as acceptable as a jilbab made of silk in which everyone can see every movement of your butt when you walk. Peace.
Saadia, Birmingham, England

I watched Panorama last night and have to agree that it was biased but I think it needed to be. Judging by the comments I have read here the programme reached its target audience, British Muslims are indeed distancing themselves from extremist views. Many religions spout this elitist nonsense particularly when they feel isolated and oppressed, they seek to dehumanise their perceived oppressors, this is not God's way. We non-Muslims who marched against the war feel every bit as angry and helpless as they do when we see the suffering in Iraq. I would also like to add that the BBC's reporting on Israel is not biased and never has been.
Anon, Dorset

Well done to the BBC. It was an enthralling programme, if a bit disturbing. In John Ware, we finally had a reporter who had the guts to ask questions which need to be asked. There is nothing more dangerous than having extremists who pretend to be moderates.
Davin, London

However biased this programme was in portraying the darker side of Islam, the fact is this dark side has been raised to the surface.

After the 9/11 attacks, Madrid bombings and the London bombings, all Imam's have done is denounce them. Denouncing will do nothing to stem the extremist views that are here in the UK and that cannot be argued against.

If all this programme does is initiate all communities to combat this, by bringing it into the open and stop making it a taboo subject, then this was a fantastic programme.
Mark Bateman, Birmingham

What I do find worrying is that the moderate Muslims who were represented at the end of the programme find themselves represented by people who are obviously completely out of touch with what it is to be a citizen in a modern democracy.
Nina, London
Let's get this right. For the record this programme was not about Islamphobia, it was something I thought was gone forever in Britian today - a brilliant piece of real, totally impartial journalism conducted by a talented, clever journalist, John Ware, who asked all the right questions to get to the heart of an extremely serious matter for us all.

It was blindingly obvious that there are elements in our tolerant society who use our very tolerance and hard won freedoms to preach hatred and violence against the very society who have welcomed and helped them. It was also obvious that that MCB are the first to defend their right for free speech when it suits them but do not respect the rights of others to do so. I note that the programme makers were accused of being pro-Israeli and biast even before this programme was aired.

What I do find worrying is that the moderate Muslims who were represented at the end of the programme find themselves represented by people who are obviously completely out of touch with what it is to be a citizen in a modern democracy.
Nina, London

Great programme. It is time the hypocrisy of many Muslims is exposed. Dr Rahman wake up. Most non-Muslims are extremely concerned with the some large parts of the Muslim community's inability to live in a secular British society.
Rajiv, Leeds, UK

What poor journalism. Maybe Panorama felt it had to produce "something" before finishing the season. You know a bad story when you get quotes a few sentences long as basis for arguments. Panorama also fails to mention that the rise of "extreme" Islam, especially in Saudi Arabia, was greatly helped by the USA and other western countries because it suited their interests. Unfortunately it is the generally Muslim community that has to now pick up the mess.
MK Ali, London, UK

This programme is discovering the truth from a non-Muslim perspective. I think this programme has touched on different issues which are central both for humanity and the British way of living. We Muslims should not portray two images of Islam. I believe that there is a lack of vision within our Muslim leaders. That is why no one realised so far that a lot of issues that relate to international policies have been mixed up with Islam.

I think we should separate politics from Islam and open up another channel for such discussions.

We still have a lot of work to do and are still ignorant of international issues and policies. So far I've not seen any interfaith discussions to reflect on some of the issues covered in the programme.

Islam is a faith personal to the person and not an identity. If it becomes one's identity then it takes a different form.

Our youth need 21st Century leadership that incorporates our British and Muslim values together. We Muslims must also understand that we are part of the global community and our values should play a big role within that frame of universal values.
Lulu, UK

I found the programme interesting in the sense that since the London bombings so called radical Islamic groups were demonised in the media and the MCB was presented as being the moderates. Many Muslims and non-Muslims applauded the statements of condemnation by the MCB. Now it seems the attack is on the moderates. What becomes apparent. in my mind. is that the attack is not on moderates or extremists but on Islam itself, and Islamic opinions and verses are now going to be re-interpreted in the post modern 21st century era, similar to the reformation of christianity in the past.
Showkat, Milton Keynes

Listening to Sir Iqbal Sacranie make excuses and trying to justify terrorism in the name of Islam on your programme reminded me very much of the kind of bigoted and unreasonable arguments that people like Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein used to make to justify the terrorist campaign that the IRA waged in Northern Ireland. His refusal to answer questions directly spoke volumes of his true beliefs and allegiances.
Andrew Lavelle, Leeds, England

Being an Indian Sikh woman married to a European Christian, living in London with two young children, I do fear for their safety, both by Muslim suicide bombers as well as British, white hatred towards brown people. We moved to London because we love it, its people, their acceptance of all people no matter what. All religions have fanatics and extremists, who would know that more than a sikh? I condemn extremism as a mother wjshing only a peaceful world for her children. But peace has never existed and it probably never will as it contradicts human psychology. Now is the time for Islamist extremism, tomorrow it may be Christian extremism at the forefront. There will always be new challenges for us to overcome. Such is life.
Bhavna Boesen, London

A wider spectrum of Muslim leaders and personalities would have presented a far more realistic portrayal of the views of British Muslims.
Suhail and Fatema Valji, Watford, UK
So much for objective reporting by the BBC. This programme was one-sided, biased and confrontational - and is sure to incite further misunderstanding of Islam. The approach and agenda were clearly inflammatory. In particular, the confusing of the London bombings with far more complex, deep-rooted struggles against injustice was somewhat naive and misinformed to say the least. A wider spectrum of Muslim leaders and personalities would have presented a far more realistic portrayal of the views of British Muslims. The days of the Inquisition are surely over.
Suhail and Fatema Valji, Watford, UK

As a British Muslim I was shocked with what I saw in this programme. It used heavily edited interviews with the Muslim leaders to make them look more like extremists than the moderate leaders they are. They were not allowed to explain their answers and, where they were explained, no doubt left out of the final cut. This was very poor journalism and I am surprised that the BBC aired this programme.
G Sarwar, Birmingham, UK

I would refute the claim that this programme depicted all Muslims as 'fundamentalists', 'extremists' etc. It showed many peaceful Muslims who reject these evil, divisive and dangerous beliefs. Any rational person realizes that it is a dangerous, misguided minority responsible for spreading them, and that the majority of Muslims reject them. I was amazed at the hypocrisy displayed by the General Secretary of the MCB and his semantic games, his refusal to unreservedly condemn all forms of violence and murder, regardless of situation or circumstances. People like him will be of no help in the tense and trying times that all of us in Britain may face.
Anon, Glasgow, Scotland

An excellent programme. At last Panorama is once again adopting an objective stance, and fearlessly addressing the subject matter. Something that has been sadly lacking since the Hutton report. Carry on the good work.
Anne, Monmouthshire

In a sense I welcomed the BBC show. I did expose some of the dangerous messages that some Islamic clerics on mainland UK have used. This should be combatted and stopped, as many young British Muslims will find it even more difficult to integrate into society when such messages and ideologies are being peddled. However, it must be recognised that the majority of Muslims living in this country are decent and law abiding people who are content and willing to engage in wider society. The majority of British Muslims must not be labelled or sigmatised as 'extreme' or supporters of terror. Just like some sections of the media did in the 1970s and 1980s, when many decent Northern Irish citizens were treated badly and discriminated against becasue of a very small minority of terrorists, the British Muslim should not be shunned. Living in Northern Ireland all my life I know how perceptions can taint people.
Ali, Belfast, Northern Ireland

I would like to express my gratitude and admiration for your brave and objective programme. I understand from The Times, that there were 250 complaints about the report, with only 45 favourable ones. This does not surprise me. For years, there has been a kid-gloved approach towards militant Islam, with consequences that will be very difficult to undo. Even now, in the media in general and in the BBC's daily news reports and commentary, a pro-Islamist and pro-Arab bias prevails. I was therefore delighted that in your programme, by contrast, there was an honest account of the facts.

If there was anything in the programme that indicted the leaders of the Muslim community, it was not in your questions, but rather in their answers.

More of this kind of reporting may restore the kind of impartiality that the BBC was famous for in the past.
Robert Fried, London, United Kingdom

Muslim or non-Muslim, we needed to know what the MCB are about and this documentary just simply did its job
Christopher O'Sullivan, Birmingham
After reading the posts on here I have to say to those who described the documentary as showing "Islam in a negative way" need to look harder at what was being aimed at: the truth of the MCB.

Muslim or non-Muslim, we needed to know what the MCB are about and this documentary just simply did its job. It showed that they may be a bunch of cowboys that the public should be wary of.

Please, as a non-Muslim, I did not think once whilst watching of "Islam in a negative way". I just wanted to know what the truth behind the subject of the matter.

Stop worrying about what other people are thinking about the Muslim faith. We've been living side by side for a good few decades and only us, the people, will guide the future of beloved our country.
Christopher O'Sullivan, Birmingham, UK

It is surely a difficult time for Muslims, some are confused and bewildered. But, frankly, there are hardly any options for "some" moderate Muslims who are misguided by a small minority of Muslim leaders. We must tackle the hardline Muslim clerics who brainwash our young muslims of today through manupilating Islamic history and the verses of the Quran, for thinking they are on the right path in committing these unhuman acts, just to get their political thinking right.

Why should all Muslims take the bait and feel guilty?. As a Muslim myself I feel the anger and it's difficult to express it. The programme itself was one-sided, some sources were irrelevant and against Muslims. It will only hype up more hate for the Muslim community and alienate them. Let's ask ourselves a question: What was the motive in broadcasting the programme?

Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. God loves us all we are his creation, let's live in peace.
Mohammed Desai, London

I'm a Muslim myself. I feel that this programme gave us a view of the Muslim community which we desperately needed to see, but for whatever reason Media has been afraid to address. A growing proportion of Muslims everywhere are falling for the fundamentalist propaganda. The growth of this community of extremists not only threatens 'kafir' Britons, but secular Muslims like myself as well.

My thanks to Mr Ware for having the courage in asking the questions that needed to be asked of those who have been unchallenged in their anti-social ideologies. If there is to be any anger in response to the programme, it should be at the Muslim interviewees who gave callous responses to well-thought questions, and the MCB for having supported and sheltered extremists.
Omar Siddiquee, New York USA

I found the programme very interesting. And no disrespect to anyone, but I agree with many things that have been said.

I'm sure Islam is a very peaceful religion, as you all say. What I'm not so sure about is how it happens that, every time news about suicide bombing come out, it doesn't take long to guess that a Muslim was involved.

I believe the expressions "Fanaticism about Religion" and "Brain Washing" play a great deal in describing the reason for doing something like that.
Oly, Northants

So does this now mean that Christians (ranging from Baptists to 7th Day Adventists to Mormons to Catholics) who believe that Jesus is "The Way, the Truth and the Life" in that "no one may come to the Father" except by him, are now considered to be dangerous extremists?
Abu Usamah, Aylesbury, Bucks

The Panorama reporter John Ware produced "A Question of Leadership" in such a way which depicts leading Islamic intellectual Maulana Maududi whose teachings are followed by a substantial number of law-abiding Muslims, as extreme and subversive. The views at the programme that the MCB is not representing the Muslim of the UK will stun not only British Muslims but the majority of people in the country. Furthermore comments made by Taj Hargey on the Islamic Foundation is unfair and unjust.
Dr Abul Hassan University of Durham, Durham, UK

I thought that the programme was very interesting as it is a lack of knowledge that fuels ignorance and suspicion. It is not an "anti-Muslim" programme, unless you were watching it and wanting to perceive it as so. It is high time our Muslim community takes a hard look at itself; they cannot hide from the fact that both the 7th and 21st bombers came from within their community. I think for far too long Britain has been far too lenient and I welcome any tightening of immigration/deportation if it is going to make my country safer. If these rules are going to offend some Muslims, so be it, as anyone will know that is is by no means a personal vitriolic attack on them.
Peter Walker, Nottingham

Can someone please tell me what the British way of life values are, because I have asked many of my British friends and they don't know as well
Ahmed, Cardiff
Can someone please tell me what the British way of life values are, because I have asked many of my British friends and they don't know either. I think we need to specify this so that all Muslims can ensure that they meet the requirements. I for one realised that this morning I had a continental breakfast and not a British one and wondered if I am in a minority or majority.
Ahmed, Cardiff

It was interesting to read the number of emails sent in from people stating how shocked they were that the BBC aired this programme, and how it promotes racial hatred. Much of the debate around recent events has been about freedom of speech, even when this could be seen to amount to approving of suicide bombings.

It strikes me as hypocritical that so many people would have liked this programme not to be aired while, at the same time, protesting against the views that people who endorse extremism should be silenced. We either have freedom of speech or we don't. We cannot be selective and say that a programme that portrayed islamic extremists as unappealing shouldn't be aired, but a man who praises suicide bombings here and abroad should be allowed to speak in the street or on the net.
Anonymous

Fifty-five people had to die and hundreds more suffer from horrifying injuries, thousands had to be frightened to travel and the whole British tourist economy for summer 2005 ruined before there was any official condemnation of what these Muslim fanatics have been preaching for more than ten years.

More power to the BBC for ignoring the massive pressures that must have been placed on you, from the fanatics and their supporters in World Service Television, for instance, and coming out with the truth. I was impressed that Lulu is a Muslim who considers herself or himself "part of the global community", it is good to learn that there are some Muslims who do not have the "us and them" mentality.
Josephine Bacon, London, England

I think it's really important to understand that this was not a programme about Muslims in general. It was about the actions of supposedly representative Muslim organisations who have for too long acted with disgraceful irresponsibility. The boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day by the MCB was a complete disgrace. There are ways of lobbying which did not need to involve a boycott. And as for the programme portraying Muslims negatively, I was heartened by the amount of Muslims on the programme who distanced themselves and Islam from the actions of the MCB and MAB. There was true leadership.
Anon, London

I was very disappointed with the programme. It was totally one-sided and simply looked for any comment that made Islam look bad, rather than giving a balanced view. Picking on a person in Pakistan and then making out as though he is voicing the opinions of the UK Muslims is totally misleading.

There are many changes to be made by the Muslims in the UK, but this programme did not deal with the subject in an objective manner, but then again, I am resigned to seeing and hearing such programmes. You then wonder why Muslims are disillusioned? They have no voice on prime time TV. Why not make a prime time programme about the true Islam? Oh sorry, who might actually be attracted to the real message and question everything rather than simply accept whatever is fed to them?
Farak, Bucks

Excellent programme but a pity that it took 52 deaths before the mainstream was prepared to ask searching questions of the so-called moderate representatives of Islam.
Ben, London

I am extremely dissappointed at the portrayal of the certain sections of the Muslim community in this programme.

In particular I found objectionable the assertion that those Muslims who did not divorce politics from their Islamic practices were extremist.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a political leader, a military leader, a spiritual guide, and a family man. Muslims all over the world follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in all aspects of his character. In fact, in certain instances, it is obligatory for the Muslims from whatever background or persuasion to follow the example of the Prophet (PBUH).

To suggest that those who "politicised" their Islam were extremist is a blatant inaccuracy and a slur on the beliefs of all Muslims.

The programme referred to the Sufi element of British Muslims as being non-political. This again is largely inaccurate as many Sufi scholars and movements in the past took part in political reformation and miltary campaigns. The programme did not bother to delve deeper into this notion and instead continued to talk about about Wahhabi and Maududi'st so-called influence in politicising Islam. I would not, in any instance, refer to this as impartial reporting.

The programme went onto to slur the practice of Muslim women wearing the Jilbab, referring, particularly, to the Shabina Begum case, and equating that also with extremist influence. Many thousands of practicing Muslim women wear the Jilbab as part of their obligatory religous dress and yet the BBC saw it fit to portray this practice as simply cultural and equated with extremist interpretations. Why are Muslim women not afforded the same respect and honour as Christian nuns are when it comes to adhering to their religous dress codes? Why is Muslim women's dress seen as a symbol of political intention rather than that of a desire to dress modestly according to the injunctions of their faith?

In conclusion I found the BBC Panorama programme deeply offensive to my faith as a Muslim. The programme was riddled with wholesale inaccuracies and blatant partiality to one flawed hypothesis: that political Islam was extremist Islam.
Shabir Aziz, Sheffield

Despite the fact that the reason is clearly mentioned, repeatedly, about the core reasons which have giving birth to such extremist activities, they are completely ignored. In the programme Muslim scholars have mentioned in many places that the main cause is the ongoing injustice to Muslims around the world. Why is that fact completely ignored and the eyes are shut?

The government and BBC should really try and get involved to solve these global injustices rather than just blaming Muslims. How can we, or our children, close our eyes and hearts at the current, globally disturbed, environment? I suggest we should really spend our energies in resolving the political disputes around the world which are the root cause of the issue and make the world a fair place to live, rather than supporting wars against Muslims to make things even worse.
Imran Shafqat, Southall, London

By all the comments I have read, I am glad that I did not watch this programme. On a general point about the media after the London bombings, as far as Muslims are concerned, it's open season. It seems that journalists who wrote about handbags and Shoes before the bombings have suddenly become experts on Islamic law and jurisprudence overnight. I'm surprised that Melanie Philips nor Julie Burchill were not chosen to present the programme.
Farhad Navkhoda, Preston/London

I was deeply impressed by the thorough, balanced and informative presentation of John Ware and the Panorama team. It raised all manner of direct and honest questions about the future of Islam in the UK. It should give British Muslims and non-Muslims much food for thought.
Professor Stefan C Reif, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

As a Muslim, I am disappointed that so many others state that they found this programme to be anti-Islamic. In my opinion, this programme was fair, balanced and asked questions that needed to be asked. The MCB does not represent my brand of Islam, nor that of any of my family. The programme pointed out, quite correctly, that there is no "one" Islam and so any one organisation cannot claim to include all Muslims let alone the MCB which contains groups who preach hatred of the West.
Shehzad, London, UK

I have always thought the BBC employs journalists who strive to report events in a thorough, balanced and fair manner. However, this perception was shattered having watched Panorama of John Ware's report on the Muslim community in Britain. A lot of points made in the programme were given out of context, manipulataed to tarnish the Muslims in this country and seem to follow a "pro-zionist" agenda.
Anonymous Muslim, London

I am not a highly educated person with a great understanding of world history, politics or religion, but I have enough common sense to be able to watch a programme such as this and realise that it is not depicting the views of every Muslim living in Britain today. To all the people who have written here suggesting that the programme was wrong to be so 'one-sided' and that it was promoting anti-Muslim feeling; I'm afraid you are completely missing the point.

Instead of being so outraged that the BBC has the nerve to air such a programme on British television; perhaps you should be outraged that people with such views and ideas are even calling themselves Muslims. What could forge a union between Muslims and non-Muslims better than for us to stand together side by side in denouncing these extremists?

If you believe that the people being interviewed on this programme are wrong in what they say, why are you not targeting your distaste at them instead of the BBC? Surely if there are people living amongst us who believe that suicide bombers are justified in their actions (no matter where in the world or for what reason) we have the right to be informed? Are you all suggesting that because these people are saying something that shows the Muslim faith in a bad light we should all bury our heads in the sand and pretend they don't exist?

Whilst there are clearly many Muslims who do not share the views of some of the people who were interviewed on Panorama, it is equally clear that there are many who do. The likes of Sir Iqbal Sacranie could not hold the public and political positions they do, or attract so many followers to their preachings, unless there were indeed many Muslims who do share their views. This should surely be a very worrying fact to all of us; Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

I think it is time we rose above the 'politically correct' fear of upsetting minority groups in this country and started to deal properly with the serious issues that should concern every single man, woman and child in Great Britain and beyond, regardless of faith.

I can only congratulate John Ware, the Panorama team and indeed the BBC for having the courage to make and air this programme, may you long continue to fulfil the need for potentially controversial journalism and public education.
Debs, Hull, England

Congratulations on a very enlightening piece of investigative journalism. Whatever side of the fence you're on, it is refreshing to see a journalist who doesn't simply read from a script but also makes sure that the interviewees don't evade the questions. It is all too common today to see so-called journalists sit by and let those who are supposed to be answering tough questions take over the interview and say just about anything they want unchallenged.

It is also encouraging to see someone who has had the courage to point out what seems to be the unwritten rule regarding terrorism in many circles, which is that its definition varies according to the nationality and religion of its intended victims.
Mark McBride, Montreal, Canada

There seems to be a common thread through these comments which indentifies the existance of fanatics in all religions. There is no dispute over that, only a few days ago, Eric Rudolph was jailed for the Atlanta bombings he did in his vendetta against americas abortion clinics, informed by his own religious beliefs.

But what most middle class, white people in the UK disagree with Islam over seems to come from the tension that exists between the global Muslim family, the country one lives in and the right of the individual.

The Atlanta Olympic bombings, as an example, whilst done in the name of 'religion' has no influence on the Christian community as a whole. The separation of a governing church body, from the deeds of the people committing an offence is huge. It is planly evident that Eric Rudolph did these actions of his own accord and his actions had no bearing on the 'church' at large.

Compare this to the debate we are having now. Why are four suicide bombers in London intrinsically linked to the Muslim community as a whole? Why is there no separation between their actions, the Muslim community within Britain, and worldwide Islamic family?

No wonder large sections are having trouble with this; Islam terrifies us and reporting like this show does not help quell these fears. Maybe Islam is misunderstood but the onus on Muslims in Britain is to be more vigilant in making sure that they get their message across. This is not only vital but also necessary as the religion must adapt to suit the needs of the people within the country, its laws and also its culture.

After time, acts committed under Islam's name will be hopefully viewed as the actions of a minority bunch of fanatics, and not attributed to the religion as a whole, but at the moment, they are.
Anonymous

I am sad to see so many law-abiding Muslims condemning Panorama. Perhaps the strong reaction to the programme (and the use of such words as "Islamaphobia") indicate that it touched a raw nerve?

I agree that perhaps the programme should have been more balanced, but bear in mind that it was a programme about the leadership of the Muslim community in Britain, and how that relates to the activities of a few, misguided individuals in London. I am an atheist (a secular humanist if you want to get technical) and I am always depressed by the way people cling onto one set of beliefs - logically, given that no religon can be proved, does this make them all equally (in)valid?

Anyway, now that I've upset everyone with a faith, I'd like to point out that although the new Pope has expressed a view that there can be no deviation from Catholic doctrine, will this shield him from legitimate criticism? No. A faith does not exist outside of society, and cannot be immune from legitimate criticism and analysis. Faith is a product of its adherents, as much as the other way around, and if a faith espouses values or actions that are incompatible with the society around it, then surely it must adapt?
James, Derby, UK





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