Muslim prayer gesture was called ‘IS Salute’ by BBC’s Panorama host.
An apology has been issued by the BBC. The apology was issued because a Muslim prayer was referred to as an ISIS salute by Stacey Dooley. The blunder was made in an episode of Panorama which was aired on August 5.
The episode sees Stacey Dooley make her way to camps in northern Syria. The champion of competition show Strictly Come Dancing uses this opportunity to speak to women who’ve joined ISIS after leaving their countries.
The scene which stirred up a lot of controversy was one where Dooley spoke the words “ISIS salute” while describing women who raised their fingers in the air. This scene has now been cut from the episode.
The raised index finger means “the unity and uniqueness of God as creator and sustainer of the universe” and is used as a symbol of Tawhid. It’s quite a common occurrence in Islamic prayer. Football players from the Muslim community have used the symbol while celebrating goals.
The moment was condemned by a watchdog for anti-Muslim incidents on social media called TellMamaUK. They responded to the scene by tweeting that reducing such an important and fundamental concept of Islam to an ISIS salute is ignorant, damaging, and wrong.
Other people chimed in on the incident such as Anisa Subedar. The award-winning BBC journalist tweeted a question asking if Stacey Dooley knew that all Muslims raise their fingers while praying to remind themselves of the oneness of God. She went on to say the blunder is offensive and downright insulting to Muslims as well as journalists.
Journalist Oz Katerji blamed a lack of diversity in newsrooms for the mistake. Katerji said the media has a responsibility to prevent such situations. He went on to say that this sort of thing won’t happen if a more diverse staff is hired.
This could be avoided if the BBC hired more diverse producers/presenters. And maybe stopped letting Stacey Dooley present things. https://t.co/0WfEXZjerK
— Hannah Al-Othman (@HannahAlOthman) August 5, 2019
A spokesperson for the BBC responded to the backlash by admitting that they made a mistake while they filmed the incident. The spokesperson then said ISIS had adopted the sign for their purposes. However, it was wrong of the BBC to not clearly state that all Muslims use the symbol to signify the oneness of Allah. The spokesperson finished up by saying that the BBC apologizes and has removed the description from the episode.
This isn’t the first time Dooley has faced criticism. Her perceived lack of understanding and knowledge in many documentaries have led many to criticize her.