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The BBC was criticised last week for not describing the armed jihadists behind the Kenya shopping centre siege as terrorists.
The corporation’s journalists have avoided using the words ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’ in reports.
Instead, they described the terrorists as ‘Islamist militants’ or ‘suspected Al Shabaab militants’ - and only used the word terrorist in when quoting someone else.
Critics said the BBC was guilty of ‘covering’ for the jihadists. One senior backbench MP said the BBC was ‘out of touch’ on the issue.
Douglas Murray, associate director of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, said: ‘By not calling these jihadists what they actually are, the BBC is effectively covering for them.
‘No-one wants to say they are jihadis, which they are. No-one wants to say they are Islamic extremists, which they are.
‘Most people know what these people are and it’s only certain sections of government and the media which refuses to point the finger.’
Rob Wilson, Conservative MP for Reading East, said: ‘Most members of the British public would see the planned and systematic murder of dozens of innocent people in Kenya as terrorism.
‘Sadly, the BBC looks like it has made a bad judgement call on this and is out of touch with ordinary people on a very important issue.’
BBC guidelines suggest avoiding the use of the word 'terrorism' because it is a ‘difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones’.
They state: ‘We try to avoid the use of the term “terrorist” without attribution. When we do use the term we should strive to do so with consistency in the stories we report across all our services and in a way that does not undermine our reputation for objectivity and accuracy.’
A BBC spokesman said: ‘There has been no specific advice issued for this story. We always think very carefully about the language we use.
We do not ban words but the BBC does have general guidelines about accurate and careful language, depending on the context of a story.
‘The BBC has referred to the events as a terror attack and has at times referred to the attackers as terrorists and at other times as militants, or used other phrases which are accurate and help tell the story.’
In January David Cameron criticised the corporation for describing those behind the Algerian hostage attack as ‘militants’.
BBC bosses were also criticised this year when journalists were told not to describe hate cleric Abu Qatada as an ‘extremist’.
- Daily Mail