(Daily Mail) – The BBC is under fire after the Home Affairs Editor appeared to compare notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
Following a lengthy report last week on BBC News at Ten about Choudary, Mark Easton appeared to question whether there were similarities between Britain’s most famous extremist and two of history’s greatest civil rights campaigners.
Referring to (UK Home Secretary) Theresa May’s pledge to clamp down on extremism, the journalist said Gandhi and Mandela had been seen as extremists and that those stances ‘are sometimes needed to challenge very establish values’.
But outraged viewers slammed the comparison as ‘disgusting’ while campaigners said the ‘ludicrous’ comments gave credence to Choudary’s ‘complete rejection’ of democracy and tolerance.
Even Choudary himself rejected the BBC’s comparisons last night. He said: ‘The comparisons with Mandela and Gandhi are false. They are kuffar (non-believers) going to hellfire whilst I am a Muslim. Alhamudililah (praise God).’
Adam Deen, founder and executive director of The Deen Institute, a Muslim debating forum and think-tank, said the journalist was trying to make the point that dissenting views are essential in a democracy.
But he said that Choudary’s views ‘completely reject’ democracy and tolerance – the very values by which Gandhi and Mandela’s views were inspired.
Mr Deen said: ‘I think the journalist’s point is underpinned by the view that dissenting views are important for a democracy and that these voices can highlight areas where a society may have gone wrong.
‘But the error is that he is assuming that Anjem is arguing in the same way or dissenting in the same way as the likes of Mandela or Gandhi, both of whom were dissenting with a backdrop of views that the establishment already held.
‘Unlike Mandela and Gandhi, Choudary completely rejects those values of democracy and tolerance which makes the comparison completely false.