Amid outrage from listeners, a branch of the British Broadcasting Corp. has been forced to explain why it asked whether or not a teen who had abandoned Islam and fled her family in Saudi Arabia should be killed.
The question: “Eighteen-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun fled Saudi Arabia as she said her family would kill her for choosing to leave Islam – do you respect her decision?”
The BBC Asian Network backtracked.
“We have deleted the tweet about our earlier discussion on Rahaf al-Qunun,” the BBC said. “The question we asked on air ‘How do you feel about the 18-year-old Saudi woman’s decision to leave her family and religion?’ was aimed at our listeners who had faced similar dilemmas in their own life regarding family and religion. We received several calls from people emphathising with Miss al-Qunun’s situation. We are sorry the original wording about ‘respecting her decision’ was open to misinterpretation.”
The British paper Metro reported the outrage over the question spread on the web.
The comments included, “You’re a waste of taxpayer’s money,”
A BBC spokesman explained: “We accept that the original wording of our tweet did not reflect the question being posed on air and was open to misinterpretation. We took action to remove the tweet and clarify the question, which was aimed at Asian Network listeners who had faced their own issues regarding family and religion.”
The Asian division, however, recently stirred up another controversy when a reporter asked, “What is the right punishment for blasphemy?”
At Jihad Watch, Christine Douglass-Williams said “the damage was done,” noting BBC pulled the comment only “after scorching rebuke from readers.”
The site explained the Quran calls for those who leave Islam to be punished with death.
According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad said: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”
“The BBC should be condemning Islamic blasphemy laws and defending human rights and women’s rights. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is a genuine refugee — unlike the multitudes of economic migrants that flooded Europe. She needs to be protected from those who want to murder her, and should promptly be given asylum in Australia,” Douglass-Williams said.
“Another young Saudi girl — another genuine refugee — was dragged back from an airport to Saudi Arabia to a presumably horrible fate while trying to escape the country in 2017. Dina Ali Lasloom ran away from her family after she was abused. She made it to an airport in the Philippines, but despite the scene she made with her desperate pleas for safety and freedom, Dina was last seen screaming and being dragged onto a Saudi Arabia Airlines flight from Manila to Riyadh. She was never heard from again. The Saudi embassy in Manila issued an appalling statement ‘calling the case a ‘family matter’ and added without elaborating that she had ‘returned with her relatives to the homeland.'”