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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 11:03 GMT
Anger at Kilroy 'anti-Arab rant'
Robert Kilroy-Silk
Mr Kilroy-Silk presents a daytime television show
Muslim leaders have accused Robert Kilroy-Silk of "anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views" after a newspaper piece entitled "We Owe the Arabs Nothing".

The Muslim Council of Britain denounced the BBC discussion show presenter's piece as a "gratuitous anti-Arab rant".

In the Sunday Express piece, the former Labour MP referred to Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women repressors".

The Commission for Racial Equality has also reported the matter to the police.

The MCB secretary general Iqbal Sacranie said in a letter to BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey that Mr Kilroy-Silk had failed to distinguish between the terrorists behind the 11 September attacks and 200 million "ordinary Arab peoples".

Mr Sacranie questioned whether if the word Jew or black was substituted for Arab in the piece, the presenter would not still be occupying a high-profile spot on television.

Mother's funeral

A BBC spokeswoman said the corporation was carefully examining Mr Sacranie's letter before deciding whether any action should be taken.

The presenter was unable to give a comment due to his mother's funeral.

His article included comments saying the toppling of despotic regimes in the Middle East should be a war aim, and questioned the contribution of the Arab nations to world welfare and civilisation.

He referred to how Arabs "murdered more than 3,000 civilians on 11 September" and then "danced in the streets" to celebrate.

Mosque in Bolton which had a suspicious fire
Some have complained that anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment has led to attacks

Mr Sacranie said action should be taken over the "bigoted and ill-informed ideas" in the piece, which was "ignorant, extremely derogatory and indisputably racist".

The BBC spokeswoman said: "We've received an e-mail from Mr Iqbal Sacranie and are looking into how the Sunday Express column, which Robert Kilroy-Silk writes in his capacity as a freelance, fits with his on-screen work for the BBC.

"We'd like to take the time to carefully consider the points Mr Sacranie makes."

CRE chair Trevor Phillips said: "This article is indisputably stupid and its main effect will be to give comfort to the weak-minded.

"However, given the extreme and violent terms in which Mr Kilroy-Silk has expressed himself, there is a danger that this might incite some individuals to act against someone who they think is an Arab."

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