I am not going to comment directly on the Citizen Khan program. I do not particularly care for so-called ethnic comedy shows that regurgitate out-of-date jokes and reinforce racist stereotypes. They are only sanctioned by the BBC because they lack real diversity in the organisation and are forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel in an ethnic box ticking exercise.
What concerns me is the response the BBC has given to Muslims that have decided to engage with the broadcaster to complain about the program by dismissing them as a ‘lobbying campaign’.
As a journalist that has worked within the Muslim community especially in Birmingham, I know how difficult it is to engage parts of the Muslim community when reporting. The lack of real diversity in the BBC means that the organisation is not seen as representative and international news reported by the BBC reflects badly on the organisation when local reporters hit the streets.
Because of this there is a lack of trust and unwillingness, sometimes, by local communities to talk to the BBC.
There is a wealth of talent at the BBC and there are many individuals who actually want real diversity and representation in the organisation. But, dismissing Muslim viewers who complain just because the BBC thinks there is a ‘lobbying campaign’ is both irresponsible and unfair.
The message the BBC sends out with responses like this is that Muslims do not have a legitimate right, like other groups in the UK, to complain or engage in a civil manner with the organisation.
If the BBC had any sort of contacts on the ground they would have realised that there has been a negative response from Muslims about this program.
Whether people agree with the basis of the complaints or not, they still have a right to be heard and taken seriously; 200 complaints is no small matter.
Unfortunately the BBC only wants to relay on the internet because it maybe lacks people on the ground that can gauge grassroots opinion from ethnic minority communities.
These actions also make it very difficult for BBC staff that are making efforts to engage and involve diverse communities and get real stories out.
Dismissing Muslim complaints sets efforts back in engaging communities.
I suggest the BBC retract their statement that it was a ‘lobbying campaign’, and engage with their viewers that feel upset by the program.