On November 15, 2013, during an interview on BBC Radio 4 with Baroness Warsi about Christian persecution in Pakistan and the Middle East, the interviewer mentioned Israel in a sentence discussing countries that persecute Christians:
But are you saying – can I just ask – countries like Pakistan that you refer to, or perhaps Israel or even Iraq where there is a functioning government – is it just down to the politicians in those countries to speak out and this problem could be solved?
There is, of course, no persecution of Christians in Israel. Pro-Israel activist and HonestReporting subscriber Murray Freedman launched a complaint to the BBC. Despite receiving an initial response suggesting that he’d misunderstood the context of the statement, Murray persevered and eventually received a letter from the BBC’s Head of Editorial Complaints, Fraser Steel.
Steel noted that while the intention was to cite Israel as an example of a country with a functioning government, rather than a country that persecutes Christians,
it seems to me that bracketing it with Pakistan and Iraq, in the context of an item arising from Baroness Warsi’s warning that Christians is some parts of the world face extinction because of violence against them, nevertheless tended to give the impression that Christians in Israel were suffering violence comparable to what had been experienced in the other countries named, and that this impression, however inadvertent, was misleading.
I’m therefore proposing to uphold your complaint.
The BBC complaints process is notoriously difficult to negotiate and takes a great deal of patience and perseverance. For that and for succeeding in his complaint, Murray Freedman from the UK is HonestReporting’s Watchdog of the Week.
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