Anjem Choudary's Today Programme Appearance After Lee Rigby Trial Sparks Backlash

Backlash After Hate Preacher Given Prime Today Programme Slot
Anjem Choudary
Anjem Choudary

The BBC is facing a backlash after handing hate preacher Anjem Choudary the prime interview slot on the flagship Today programme.

The former leader of Islam4UK, a banned Islamist group, was allowed to rant virtually uninterrupted as he refused to condemn the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

At one point, host John Humphrys referred to him as "a leader of your community, or some part of your community".

His interview was followed by Lib Dem peer Lord Carlile, who attached responsibility to "the Muslim community" for not doing enough to confront the extremist.

Questions were immediately asked about the wisdom of inviting Choudary, who is thought to have radicalised Rigby's killers, on the show.

Asked to condemn the Woolwich murder, Choudary, who also led the banned Al-Muhajiroun Islamist group, refused and kept switching the topic to British foreign policy.

In an attempt to rein him in, Humphrys said: "Let's do a deal here this morning".

He suggested Choudary condemned the murder, and then they would talk about British foreign policy.

But Choudary declined, asking why they were not discussing deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Highlighting the tactics that have confounded the authorities, the preacher said he was "very careful" about what he said, saying: "I am very careful about what I say.

"I am not breaking the law, otherwise I would be sitting behind bars."

He dismissed the Muslim Council of Britain as "paid-up lackeys" and explained that he did not believe in democracy.

Choudary was able to speak uninterrupted as the BBC interview wound up.

Next up was Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, who condemned Choudary but then decided the problem was with Britain's Muslim leaders, particularly young people, who were not doing enough to do the same.

"British Imams should be much more ready than they are to preach the antidote to people like Choudary," he said.

A spokesman from the Muslim Council of Britain responded to Choudary's accusations, saying: "Muslim communities then, as now, were united in their condemnation of this crime [Lee Rigby's murder].

"Mr Choudary is a self-serving publicity seeker and the BBC was unwise to give him so much airtime, unchallenged.

"He relies on the oxygen of publicity to influence impressionable young people at the margins of society.

"It is unfortunate that Lord Carlile feels the mainstream Muslim community is not doing enough to condemn Mr Choudary's views, but if this morning's Today programme is anything to go by, our community remains voiceless compared to the coverage Mr Choudary enjoys."


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