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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
September 13, London
You can join Question Time's internet debate by emailing your views on the topics discussed in the latest programme to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The programme attracted a large number of complaints from members of the public after which the BBC's Director General, Greg Dyke, issued an apology. Details can be found here
Questions posed were:
Audience question: In the midst of this carnage won't a harder response provoke more action which will affect innocent lives? You said:
I think America has no option but to respond with military action. Some participants in the programme wanted to see dialogue with terrorists as they seem to think this has worked in Northern Ireland. It is because of a lack of a firm response to terrorism that we have the current situation here at the moment. Dialogue with terrorists only results in concessions which the terrorists want and an increased lawlessness and frustration by previously law-abiding people.
As an American, I think it is time we left all those people to their own devices in the Middle East. They don't like us and now we really don't like them. All they want is our financial support to fight their own wars. We should just pull out of there altogether and let them sort themselves out. Then if they decide to involve us, it will be a different story. Let them have their corner of the world.
It is, of course, of the utmost importance that any action taken by the United States in the coming months is 'measured' and 'proportionate' and involves the minimum risk possible, of collateral damage. But for the US to sit back and take it on the chin while they open a dialogue with the psychopathic culprits would be disastrous. The message that would be sent out to terrorists around the world would be that if you have a grievance and you want to get someone's attention, mass genocide is the way to get it.
I have just read one of the articles posted calling for retaliation so we can begin real peace. How can you
have any kind of peace if it is brought about or born out of violence and hatred? It is a real shame that after two very horrific and costly world wars and countless civil ones that many people of the world do not appear to have learnt any lessons. Peace will only come when everyone is given an equal standing.
I think what's happened in New York is really sick. And the terrorists who did this are really sick. But the fact remains that nothing will be achieved by bombing and killing more innocent people in a thirst for revenge. It may make people feel better in the short-term, but violence breeds violence. If innocent people in Afghanistan or Iraq get killed, the result will be that more people will join Osama Bin Laden and other fanatical groups. That's hardly going to improve matters.
Violence in any shape or form should be condemned. I have been saddened by recent events in the same way as many people around the world; Muslims and non-Muslims. However, I don't believe in the American attitude of revenge. They believe somehow a terrorist attack on them is an attack on the world and that the only way to solve this is to create war, killing many innocent people and hopefully killing the relevant people.
Our thoughts and sympathy go to all those innocent people who have perished by violent acts throughout the world. Retaliation has always been the reasonable and easy option to satisfy our discontent and anger.
We cannot and must not let these actions go. Tens of thousands of innocent people, many of them young children, were killed in an inhumane manner. Heads must roll. I'm sure if this was the opposite way round, then the suspected countries would feel exactly the same.
Bush, Powell, and others have called it an attack on "civilisation". How can a society that calls itself civilised stoop to the level of the barbarians that carried out Tuesday's attack by contemplating widespread military strikes that will kill more innocents? More importantly, the recent conflicts in the Middle East have shown that answering terrorism with more violence will only lead to more violence and increase instability. Instead, the perpetrators must be brought to justice legally.
Fight violence with violence! I am sick of hearing these romantic views on how we must mentally rise above these terrorists in order to defeat them. No extradition, no trial, this is the work of more than one person. Harbourers must go down with them. A visual deterrent is needed - Afghanistan and Iraq if need be.
If we do start a full onslaught without proper planning and consideration of the effects, more innocent people will lose their lives, thereby creating people who are willing to take revenge attacks against the West. Also, if we do assassinate Bin Laden or other such people, it could lead to martyrs being created, and even more support for his cause.
I believe a commensurate response to the horrible events of Tuesday would be to harness the levels of support given to America at this time in order to gather all the available evidence against the perpetrators and put them on trial before an internationally constituted court. This would allow time for cool-headed reaction and would avoid martyrdom, which the authors of this crime would otherwise glory in.
What is the fun of prestige and pride when it is soaked by the blood of innocent people? If America carries out military action, then it will be spilling oil on an already out-of-control fire. And if militants retaliated not now, but after 10 or 20 years, claiming the lives of innocents then again we will be standing at the same place we are today.
Although I deplore what has happened in New York, and agree that we should wage war on terrorism, it strikes me as ironic that, after years of terrorism in the UK and the rest of the world, only now when it has happened in the States, are we all suddenly united against the common enemy. Where were the United States when the rest of the world was being bombed?
I was shocked to the core like most people but I don't think this attack qualifies as an act of war and thus the use of Article 5 by Nato shouldn't be used to broaden the target for the terrorists to include the UK. This was clearly an act of terrorism and this wasn't what the Nato agreement refers to. I do think that the USA should retaliate, but we should not.
Britain join America in whatever action America takes?
Audience question: Paddy spoke of the dangers of overreacting. Does the panel think that Britain should join America in whatever course of action America takes? You said:
All those individuals in the audience, even the ones who so brutally insulted the United States, would be bowing to the rising sun and goose-stepping to Wagner if it were not for Americans. Maybe we should just secure our own shores and let the rest of you suffer from terrorism on your own. That would be the appropriate choice in return for your "gratitude".
Please forgive me for my ignorance on not being able to differentiate between terrorism in America and terrorism in the UK. I support almost any action America sees fit to take, because I know they are not afraid to act on behalf of their own people and won't treat terrorists with the care and compassion recent UK governments have so kindly done in my country.
Mr Ashdown, in answering the question as to whether this country should support the USA in WHATEVER action it takes, cannot be anything other than right in answering no. I do not see that this would make him a coward in any way. I also felt great respect for Philip Lader, in the way in which he conducted himself throughout.
I think that Britain should back America 100%. The US weren't the first to declare war. The hijacked planes were purposely crashed into the WTC and the Pentagon in America killing thousands of innocent people of all nationalities. THAT WAS WHEN WAR WAS DECLARED!!
I would just like to say that I am 100% behind President Bush and if war is the answer, then so be it. If it was up to me, I would track down all the terrorist leaders, capture them and then send them to the chair and have it put on international television.
I am amazed and somewhat horrified, that anyone can have suggested that Britain, despite our strong ties, should stand by America, no matter what their plan of action entails. How can we even contemplate a heavy attack on the Middle East, namely Afghanistan and Iraq, when we know that innocent people will die, especially after the events of this week. That puts us in the same boat as the evil men who undertook that act of terror. Instead of acts of revenge, sparked by anger, we should be looking for ways to stop this happening again.
The USA and the EU will go into Afghanistan and destroy the living daylights out of them. They have no proof of the government or the Taliban being involved. Is this valid on the international scene because the USA is a superpower and that all the other allies can only act as allies and that's it?
Given Nato's stance of "all for one and one for all" and its declaration of war on terrorism wherever it may be, will the US and Nato be helping Britain in military strikes in its 'war' against splinter 'IRA terrorists.' Will it help other countries such as Spain in a 'war' against Basque separatist terrorists? Or do these rules only apply to threats against the US?
Having just watched the programme I feel ashamed to be a citizen of the UK. We should feel outrage at the deaths of our own people and those of the USA who have been our friends and allies. We should stand firm with the USA and support each other and take whatever action is required to rid this world of the people who see this attack as acceptable, so that all people on earth can begin to live in real peace.
It was so encouraging to hear that the overwhelming majority of views expressed tonight called for moderation and a measured response. We HAVE to realise that we are ultimately one community; a global society and a sustainable future is based on respect, understanding and genuine concern for all communities.
A lot of the panellists like Tam Dalyell are talking about the innocent lives that COULD be lost by retaliation. Innocent lives have been lost and to stand back and enter into dialogue is simply not an option now. We are, after all America's ally and should battle alongside them.
Direct, targeted military action is exactly what will be taken - with or without the support of Britain. Our US warships stick their noses in all kinds of business because somebody has to! Does Britain do that? Can Britain do that? Terrorists are not interested in dialogue, as that one man in your panel has said five times already! Has it worked well in Northern Ireland? Has it worked well in the Middle East?
The UK should back the US as long as justice is adhered to, although no country deserves blanket bombing. Killing in the name of religion is wrong, and no religion dictates this - just some simpleton fanatical idiots who are herded like sheep.
No matter how the USA responds to the "act of war" committed against it, it is about time the whole of the western world, with the help of Israel, bombed, killed and if necessary murdered any and all terrorists. The time is now here to get rid of these people once and for all.
Nobody can doubt this was an absolutely evil attack and my sympathies go to those involved. However, why does our prime minister find it necessary to go further than other leader and commit us to aiding or defending any action of retaliation America makes? Was it not this prime minister and the former American government that urged the people of Northern Ireland and Britain to seek peace after a 30 year campaign of terror on their grounds?
Less than 14 minutes in, the usual left wing majority take over the programme - appeasers and weasels, being so mealy-mouthed in the wake of so many thousands of deaths of not just Americans, but other citizens from around the world. The most horrifying terrorist attack ever witnessed by the entire world community is being reduced in significance by these appalling people. The majority of the panel and the audience should be ashamed of themselves - but of course they won't be.
If Osama Bin Laden not handed over should Afghanistan be attacked?
Audience question: If the Taleban do not hand over Osama Bin Laden for trial should the allies then attack Afghanistan? You said:
No matter what lessons there are to be learned , and no matter what is done to prevent it again, there MUST be retribution for this atrocity. If it is Bin Laden, then do what must be done to destroy him and those who harbour him. Do it precisely and do it with ferocity. Then the time for talk and planning will come.
I think that the group of people responsible - when located and proven guilty should be attacked or brought to justice with the full might of all the united forces. However I do not think that all of Afghanistan should be laid to waste in the process. Use of a series of pinpoint attacks NOT overall destruction of their common people is what should be used. They may not be able to give the culprits up, without endangering their own families etc. This needs considering.
What happened in America is a disgrace, and we should hit back at anyone who supports any terrorists. They declared this war, we did not. Let them get away with it and it will happen again. Hit them as hard or harder and they will think twice before doing this again. If this means war on one or two countries well so be it.
Why is it that the majority of the panel would not support military action against the country harbouring the terrorists responsible for the attack against the Americans because innocent people would be killed? Upwards of 20,000 innocent people died in New York and Washington. If Bin Laden is confirmed as the man behind these attacks and was brought to trial and sentenced to death would this be an acceptable level of retribution? I don't think so.
If Bin Laden proves to be the terrorist behind the US atrocities, and he is, as reported, a billionaire, he must keep his money somewhere (probably in a Swiss bank). Why therefore don't the countries of the democratic world get together with the banks to force sequestration of his funds? Without money he is powerless.
A failure in US foreign policy?
Audience question: Does the bombing in America represent a failure in US foreign policy with millions and millions of people all around the world despising the American nation? You said:
As a British Muslim I was horrified at what I witnessed on my television screen. I was extremely impressed by the way the BBC attempted to highlight one of the main reasons as to why there is so much bitterness by some Muslims towards America and that is its foreign policy towards the Middle East. This discussion was crucial as it highlighted one of the root causes of Muslim suffering at the hands of the Israeli government supported by America.
Last night's Question Time programme was deeply disturbing to watch. Naturally there is a spread of opinion about the US, the effects of its foreign policy and so on, but the most unsettling thing to see was the burgeoning racial tension amongst the members of the audience. If we allow the current desperate situation in the US and speculation as to the identity of the perpetrators to increase racial tension and division in democratic countries around the world, then the terrorists will deem themselves to have won a great and subtle victory.
It was distressing beyond belief to see so much hatred surface amongst the audience and some panel members of Question Time, so much so that the question at hand was never really addressed. Americans are fully aware of the fact that the policies of their government often anger many. What we were not previously party to, or perhaps preferred to overlook, was that there could be so much self-righteous ignorance of and prejudice against our multicultural and diverse nation.
The idea that the terrible atrocity committed in the US this week was essentially a 'cry for help' on the part of the terrorists - a view that seemed to emerge from both many members of the audience and some of the panel - was deeply offensive. No one wants to see any more innocent lives lost, but nor can the perpetrators be allowed to get away with this terrible act.
I find it hard to believe that people are willing to accept that America's foreign policies and a hatred of American people are an excuse for Tuesday's appalling display of terrorism. Do people not realise that Osama Bin Laden and his 'followers' have no respect for human life and have proved that time and time again.
I was utterly sickened by the outrageous comments of the audience. Does the British Muslim community not appreciate that it is the democracy and freedom which America, our closest ally, upholds that protects their right to free religious expression. I don't hate America and this atrocity is not to blame for fine US foreign policy. It is the fault of revolting extremists.
I was amazed to see how many people wanted to criticise the Americans in their time of need. So many wanted to point out that Americans were hated by countries around the world. People should understand that US foreign relations are formed by those in the US government and military for the most part. Most of the people who were killed in New York this week probably had nothing to do with US involvement in foreign countries.
Though I feel sorry for the ordinary American who has borne the brunt of the terrorist attacks, I have to say that in a larger context, the US has brought this on itself. For too long the US has been meddling in other countries' affairs, either covertly or not, seeking to impose its way of thinking on other people.
Out of the tragedy in America comes an opportunity previously as unimaginable as the attack itself. America can take a good hard look at the responses from around the world and determine which are genuine. They can then change the countries' relationships with them, acknowledging their differences, and rally support for a worldwide stand against terrorism. This would achieve the exact opposite to what the attacks intended and gain America worldwide respect.
The reason why many countries of the world (especially the Middle East countries) hate America is due to its foreign policies against them. Has the West realised how America claims many innocent lives in many parts of the world, with air strikes and trade sanctions.
Consider the 1m deaths of children in Iraq since the Gulf War due to American imposed sanctions and depleted uranium poisoning before you try to answer why there are some in the Muslim world who hate America and their allies. Of course the events in America are tragic and inhumane but America (and its allies) need to understand the extreme resentment they are creating as a result of their arrogant and cruel foreign policy.
General comments on the programme:
Maybe it was a bit soon after the disaster on Tuesday, but I thought it was as usual a cross section of the public with all their different views. I would hate to see Question Time sanitised or edited. I don't agree with everyone's views, but that is what I normally feel when watching the programme. I can make my own mind up.
I wish to add my voice to those who complained about the recent Question Time programme. The Muslim women that were most vocal should allow others with differing opinions, ie pro-American, to have their view. After all, the very freedoms that those women enjoy in Britain are the freedoms that America has fought to defend around the world - freedoms that are denied to Muslim women in many parts of the world. It was an insensitive programme that demonstrated little compassion for our bereaved allies in America.
I found the programme offensive due to comments made by both the audience and panel. I also found the treatment of Philip Lader to be in very poor taste, bringing shame on the BBC and viewers.
This will always prove a difficult subject for people to discuss, and discuss it we must. But a lesson must be learnt, and I do not think this is how the BBC intended the programme to turn out.
Put it back! I want to hear the programme so that I can judge for myself. It is disgusting the BBC should be cowed by this horrible political correctness and cloying sentimentality that says that upsetting things cannot even be discussed rationally. The total dead is about equal to those killed on US roads in three months. It is a fraction of those killed in Iraq by the US and UK, and about half a percent of those killed in Rwanda.
As an American living in England, I found your show extremely offensive! With extremists like those in your audience and cities, the British should pray they are not the next target. The BBC has obviously not learned anything from the mass murders in the United States.
Having watched the special edition of Question Time, dealing with the World Trade Center atrocity, I was intensely frustrated at the unbalanced and insensitive nature of the debate. I use the word 'debate' loosely, as at times it was little more than a farce. The panel was entirely unrepresentative of the broad spread of UK public opinion, which I believe to be overwhelmingly behind the American people and government at this deeply sad time.
The opinions of the masses are greatly shaped by the media. While the BBC has largely been responsible in not promoting Islamophobia since Tuesday's attack, tabloid newspapers have left much to be desired. For example, in the Sun and in the Daily Mail on 15 September, the 'Arab' or 'Middle Eastern woman' on Question Time was accused of bringing the ambassador to tears. That woman was me. Neither tabloid bothered to find out that I am neither Arab, nor Middle Eastern. I am South Asian and I was born in England and I am a citizen.
I am a little dismayed at Greg Dyke feeling the need to apologise for the latest edition of Question Time. Of course we all share the horror and outrage at the events in New York. Being broadcast so soon after the event, emotions were bound to be high with many different points of view being expressed but, at the end of the day, this was genuine, real television. David Dimbleby should be complimented for keeping cool and handling it as best he could.
I was surprised to see reports of complaints about the edition of 'Question Time' on Sep 13. I thought the programme was lively, open, frank and contained a healthy mix of opinions, both in the audience and on the panel. I thought the BBC did very well and should be commended. Although it might be unsightly to see individuals in the audience shouting at each other, that is not the BBC's fault, and this is the type of issue that will inevitably cause strong feeling.
I was impressed by the quality of the debate and by the balanced attitude of almost all the participants, both on the panel and in the audience. It was by far the most enlightening edition of Question Time I have ever seen. I am therefore extremely angry at the stance Greg Dyke has taken in response to criticisms of the programme. As the bastion of public service broadcasting in the UK, I would see it as the duty of the BBC to support free and open debate.
As an American living in the UK I was saddened and angered by the nature of this show. Having seen the many responses I have put it in perspective. Your show actually provided a service in showing how strong the anger is felt by some towards the US. This type of anger (amplified) caused the slaughter of over 5,000 people in NY/DC and it continues daily throughout the world in various shapes and forms. The cause of terrorism is anger and fear.
Very disappointed you've removed the programme from your site. It sounds to me like the most balanced and thoughtful debate on the issue since this horrible tragedy began. I urge you to resume transmitting the programme or offering a transcript. We are not children.
We believe that Mr Dyke was absolutely and, we suspect, dangerously wrong to apologise and to issue a reprimand. David Dimbleby allowed the expression of views in as fair, representative and orderly manner as the high emotional tone of such a programme would allow. It was certainly not a 'mistake' to screen the expression of such deeply felt views.
It is rather unfair that the most controversial edition of Question Time was pulled off the web site just when the controversy arose. Now those of us overseas have no way of knowing if the criticisms - and the subsequent apology from the Beeb - were justified. Now we're just going to have to trust in the critics and the BBC executives, but that's not good form in a modern, liberal society.
As this programme was not pre-recorded and edited, isn't it just possible that it does reflect public opinion more honestly than some? Isn't this what we used to call free speech.
Like many of the people who have had comments posted I felt appalled and ashamed by the way the audience attacked the US. I felt sorry for the ex-ambassador Philip Lader. He was obviously taken aback by the hostility of the audience. Like all the audiences of Question Time they do not represent the British public. I also would like to send my apologies to Mr Lader.
I'd just like to express my utter disgust at the BBC's callous insensitivity to the US in this tragic time. The audience on last night's programme were for the most part, anti-American fanatics themselves, with a sadly deluded outlook on how to deal with the reality of events. The majority of the British people stand firmly with America, and this was not represented in the slightest last night.
I was dismayed to read in the papers this morning that there had been a wave of critical reaction to last night's programme. I watched it with a sense of surprise and relief; surprise because that's what happens when you hear spontaneous reactions from a live audience, and relief because the diversity of opinion about this event and its causes was actually being aired.
Gail Truchard has it absolutely right. I missed most of tonight's programme but caught the last section. I was ashamed to think that such partisan and ludicrous comments could come from a British audience. And I object to people telling us that the world detests America. Closed minds do not provide us with much chance of a reasoned debate. What we got instead was mindless hate that was a stain on us all. I was sickened.
It was a well presented programme which made clear that Muslim majorities do not support this act of terrorism. But it also has to be noted that innocent people die everyday in countries other than America because of America. No one is signing condolence books, lighting candles or laying flowers for them.
Like one of your audience participants (the young Muslim lady) I was also quite shocked by the first public responses of the American government predominately talking of retribution rather than compassion. It seemed quite 'thuggish' and immature in its response and this is deeply worrying. Secondly, I observed the former US ambassador as being genuinely shocked
and hurt that the US is despised by large sectors of the world.
Hopefully he will start asking why and listening to and reflecting on the answers however painful.
My wife and I had great sympathy for ex US Ambassador Philip Lader. The whole world does not hate America and we are just two of millions of people throughout the world who believe we must stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies against terrorism. Those on the programme tonight no matter where they originated from, no matter how unpalatable their views, were able to express their opinions because of the freedom that the USA has helped to secure.
I would like to express my feeling of shame for the actions of the audience on the Question Time programme. If possible please express my apologies to the US ambassador, and tell him that I feel that the majority of the UK citizens have sympathy and fully support the USA in this terrible time. The BBC should be ashamed for letting the programme be hijacked by terrorist supporters.
Sorry to see so many partisan people on the programme obviously sympathetic to the Islamic fundamentalist cause and with little concern for our American cousins.
Thank you for a most interesting and thought provoking programme.
Glad to hear I'm not the only one who thinks that talks/diplomacy along with military action may be the way.
I feel that your audience was not a true representative of British opinion regarding this outrage. I was concerned about the extreme views from certain members of the audience who would not have the same freedom of speech in their native countries. Surely this is about human tragedy and the people who perpetrated this are not able to, as Tam Dalyell suggested, sit around a table to rationally negotiate their grievances.
My wife and I were infuriated to see and hear such an anti-US, partisan panel and audience in such a sensitive time as this. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost to these mindless terrorists.
I am totally disgusted with the audience's hatred of the USA. I feel embarrassed that our American friends could have seen this inexcusable behaviour. Apart from the American ambassador the other has-beens on the panel were as disgraceful as the audience members. A heartfelt apology to all our great American friends.
I'm absolutely ashamed. Question Time reduced to little more than a farce. How ironic that an audience incapable of reasoned, rational, and respectful response should feel so eminently qualified to decide what America's response should be. Apologies should be extended to Philip Lader as representative of his countrymen and women for what he was subjected to tonight.
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