CHANNEL 4 have been accused of giving the extreme racist British National Party a ‘publicity coup’ with a film portraying Muslim Asian men as child abusers targeting white girls as young as 11
Lester Holloway, blink.org.uk, May 18
Anti-racist campaigners are outraged at the documentary, called ‘Edge of the City’ and due to be screened on Thursday 20th May. They are urging people to complain.
The neo-Nazi British National Party (BNP) have already been attempting to use the documentary for propaganda purposes. The BNP’s website even refers to the film as their “party political broadcast”.
Shot in Bradford, the film focuses on an investigation into Muslim Asian men “grooming” underage white girls as young as 11 years old for sex. It also claims Asian men were inflicting violence and drug dependency on the girls. A police investigation has found evidence of rape, abduction and threats to kill.
The programme has been criticised for being screened during a European and regional election campaign where the BNP are being increasingly recognised as a threat.
Lee Jasper, of the National Assembly Against Racism, said: “I am concerned that an ill-judged programme, at a time when elections are taking place, could inadvertently act as a recruiting sergeant for the BNP.
He added that when any ethnicity was linked to criminality there was a danger that stereotyping could result unless the situation was put in context of how widespread the problem was.
A two year investigation by Bradford police into the allegations has led to eight people being charged. Not all of them are Asian, although police refused to say exactly how many. A police spokeswoman said: “We will not be releasing a breakdown of the ethnicity of those arrested. This isn’t a race issue, it is a child protection issue.”
Neither Channel 4 nor the programme makers Chameleon TV had sought advice from the Muslim Council of Britain or any other major national Asian organisation. Jasper said the lack of advice on issues of the portrayal of Asian men as paedophiles, and the timing of the broadcast, was “extremely foolish.”
Weyman Bennett, Joint-Secretary of Unite Against Fascism, said: “I think that anything that negatively portrays the Black and Asian community would not help the process of creating a multicultural and multiracial society in the run-up to this election.”
Ruhul Tarafder, of The 1990 Trust, urged people to bombard the broadcast regulator Ofcom with complaints about the programme. He said: “I would say to anyone concerned at the damage this documentary will do to community relations, and concerned at the way this is being used by the BNP to fuel their racist propaganda, should make their feelings known by making a complaint.
“You can do this by clicking on the box in this article, which will take you through to Ofcom’s online complaint form. It is important that we take a stand and do not sit back and allow our communities to be branded and stereotyped in this way.”
The BNP are claiming the Channel 4 documentary follows a campaign by Bradford BNP activists called ‘Mothers Against Paedophiles’. Channel 4’s publicity blurb advertises the documentary as “An explosive [issue] of child abuse is causing concern among social workers in Bradford.
“It’s called grooming. Asian men have been targeting young white girls — one as young as 11 — for sexual and drug abuse. Charismatic, wealthier men entice vulnerable girls by pretending to be their boyfriends and encouraging a drug dependency. Tragically, some girls are so naïve they are unaware they are being abused while those who threaten to leave are violently intimidated.”
A two-year investigation by Bradford police and social services found underage girls in relationships with older men. Eleven arrests were made, leading to eight men being charged with various offences ranging from rape to indecent assault, witness intimidation, abduction and threats to kill. Three girls have been put under special police protection.
Channel 4 accused the BNP of “jumping on the bandwagon of a serious film.” A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: “It’s not about colour: It’s about abuse. We have taken great care to present the issues sensitively and with balance. To publicise what [the BNP] are doing is just giving them a forum. I can’t see what that’s going to achieve.”
| From Channel 4’s publicity blurb
“An explosive area of child abuse is causing concern among social workers in Bradford. It’s called grooming. Asian men have been targeting young white girls — one as young as 11 — for sexual and drug abuse. Charismatic, wealthier men entice vulnerable girls by pretending to be their boyfriends and encouraging a drug dependency. Tragically, some girls are so naïve they are unaware they are being abused while those who threaten to leave are violently intimidated. EDGE OF THE CITY follows the stories of two mothers who are desperately trying to track down information on the groomers who control their daughters.”
THE CAMPAIGN against a Channel 4 documentary portraying Asian men as paedophiles targeting white girls was dramatically axed today
Lester Holloway, blink.org.uk, May 20
Blink were first to report outrage over the film, called ‘Edge of the City’, and called on Blink readers to complaint to the broadcast regulator Ofcom. Channel 4 have now bowed to pressure and removed the documentary from its’ schedules.
Muslim leaders criticised the C4 for planning to show such a sensitive and racially inflammatory programme in the middle of the European and regional elections. They welcomed the C4 climbdown.
Critics said C4 had handed the British National Party (BNP) a ‘publicity coup’. The far-right racist group had sought to hijack the programme for their electoral gain, even calling it their own “party political broadcast”.
Following the Blink article Colin Cramphorn, chief constable for West Yorkshire Police, warned Channel 4 that the screening could provoke “a risk to community safety.”
A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: “It has been taken out of the schedule tonight following a decision by the West Yorkshire Police, who feel the timing of the broadcast could raise racial tensions. They felt there was a risk to community safety.
“It has only been pulled on the very specific advice of the police. We intend to broadcast after the elections.”
A statement from the broadcaster said: “We understand that West Yorkshire Police were concerned that as a result of a number of local factors including the forthcoming Local and European Elections, the potential for discord within the local area had been heightened.”
Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament, welcomed C4’s decision to pull the programme as a “sensible stand”, but said they should have taken the decision themselves to pull the programme instead of being forced into it.
He added: “They have to go back again and see child abuse not particularly affecting one racial group, but as a much wider problem. To portray the Asian community in this way is totally misleading. As long as it is presented [fairly] I have no problem; children need to be protected.”
Channel 4 had been criticised for not consulting Muslim organisations on the content or timing of the programme. Lee Jasper, senior advisor to London Mayor Ken Livingstone, said he hoped the broadcaster would now take this opportunity to hold special screenings and feedback sessions with Muslims before re-scheduling.
Jasper praised Blink readers for protesting against the film, which was the “primary reason” why C4 and the police were forced to act. He added: “This is a victory for common sense.
“The fact that Channel 4 were forced to take the programme off air means one can only conclude it was potentially very offensive. Blink was right to raise this issue and it’s stance has been vindicated.
“Following on from the decision to take down the Galaxy billboard posters, this again shows what can be achieved when we mobilise.”
Inayat Banglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “We welcome the decision Channel 4 have taken as a sensible decision, especially in the wake of the BNP trying to create and capitalise on animosity.
“At a time when they are raising racial tensions this move [by Channel 4] will be widely appreciated by the Muslim community.”
Edge of the City features a two-year police investigation into allegations of Asian men targeting and ‘grooming’ vulnerable young white girls for sex — some as young as eleven.
There are also allegations of rape, abduction and threats to kill made against white girls who attempt to break free from their ‘relationships’ with the men.
The portrayal of Muslim Asian men as child abusers and paedophiles outraged community leaders, some who feared it would become a ‘recruiting sergeant’ for the BNP.
A two-year police investigation in Bradford into under-age sex has led to 12 girls aged between 11 and 16 being identified. Eleven men, mostly Asian, were arrested and eight have been charged with various offences ranging from rape to indecent assault, witness intimidation, abduction and threats to kill. Three girls have been put under special police protection.
A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said: “We made representations [to Channel 4] concerning the timing of the programme. The chief constable wrote to the chief executive of Channel 4 [Mark Thompson] seeking his co-operation in re-scheduling the programme.”