Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

BBC apologises for describing common Islamic gesture as an ‘ISIS salute’

British broadcaster retracts footage from documentary equating 'tawheed' sign to an extremist gesture

An internal security patrol escorts women, reportedly wives of ISIS fighters, in the Al Hol camp in eastern Syria. AFP
An internal security patrol escorts women, reportedly wives of ISIS fighters, in the Al Hol camp in eastern Syria. AFP

The BBC has apologised for wrongly describing a raised finger gesture common in Islam as an “ISIS salute”.

Journalist and documentary maker Stacey Dooley said a group of women making the gesture at a camp in Syria that housed ISIS followers and others from areas liberated from the group was an indication of radicalisation.

The raising of the finger is commonly seen in celebrations by Muslim footballers such as Mohamed Salah, pilgrims on the Hajj and part of Islamic daily prayer symbolising tawheed (Islamic monotheism).

The broadcaster said that the description had been removed from the BBC News at 10 footage available on its online iPlayer service and removed from Monday’s documentary by Ms Dooley on women who were living under ISIS in northern Syria.

“We apologise for this error,” the BBC said in a statement.

“What happened here is insulting and offensive to Muslims and journalists,” BBC journalist Anisa Subedar said.

Tell Mama, an organisation recording anti-Muslim hatred in Britain, said reducing a fundamental religious concept to an ISIS salute was “grossly wrong, ignorant and damaging”.

In response to Tell Mama’s statement, one writer, Oz Katerji, said the issue could be fixed in the public mind.

“A mistake like this spreads across mainstream media and becomes accepted as the normal interpretation of this gesture very quickly," Mr Katerji said.

"That’s why it’s important to speak out and correct these problems when they occur.”

Ms Dooley has yet to issue a statement over the controversy.

Updated: August 6, 2019 05:04 AM

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