This week British Broadcasting Company editors told the network’s journalists to refrain from using the word “extremist” in connection with Osama bin Laden’s former number two al-Qaida officer. Instead, the politically correct “Islamic cleric” and more generic “radical” will be used to describe Abu Qatada.
Qatada, once referred to as “al-Qaida’s spiritual leader,” is scheduled to be released from prison in mere days. A British court has determined Qatada is “a truly dangerous individual,” however, and he will be under house arrest for 22 hours a day — and monitored around the clock.
Despite the extraordinary bail terms, BBC journalists must avoid labeling Qatada as an “extremist.”
James Clappison, a member of the British Parliament, told London’s Daily Telegraph, “Given the evidence about this man, it makes you wonder what you have to do for the BBC to call you an extremist.”
The Daily Telegraph also reported that BBC staffers were told that the word “extremist implies a value judgment.”
The decision reflects “a tragic paradox where a media organization seems to be curbing freedom of expression and choice of words in news reporting,” according to Mark Pritchard, another British lawmaker.
“Some senior BBC personnel need to stop … assuming everyone is as highly sensitive and politically correct as they are.”