We, the undersigned, believe that giving uncritical coverage of fascists by the BBC and other media outlets is wrong, dangerous and diminishes political debate in Britain. We call on the BBC, as a key democratic institution, to refuse to allow violent political views to be broadcast unchallenged.
The BBC and other national broadcasters and press publications have to reflect seriously upon their responsibilities particularly at this time. Is it compatible with democracy for news editors to remain neutral on giving racist agitators a platform to justify their political views to millions of people? Should they form no opinion on allowing their outlets to act as a recruiting sergeant for violent racists?
We accept that the BBC should not be “banning” particular views from being aired. We want racist and other views based on hatred to be consistently challenged and countered whenever they are aired. Choosing to give fascists a platform is not a neutral act, each time a fascist is allowed to speak without challenge, racists are emboldened to carry out their violent agenda. We have seen this in West London and Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and across the UK in recent days.
The BBC recognises that DAESH or Al-Qaeda because of their violent beliefs and means should not be allowed to portray their arguments without critical comment. This principle should be consistently applied to fascists. We believe that racism is not a legitimate part of democratic debate. Those who organise to destroy the lives of people of colour and migrants cannot be quietly listened to. We all have a responsibility to stop racists and we believe as a democratic society, we cannot allow those who despise these values to use the BBC as a rallying cry.
Freedom of speech means allowing individuals to express themselves. Freedom of speech does not mean all views are equally valid, some views are inherently anti-democratic and broadcasters have an important responsibility to point this out.
We cannot stand aside while racists use our democratic institutions to victimise and terrorise migrant communities and British people of all backgrounds.
The names below were collected in just under 72 hours last week, please add your name to the comments below if you agree with the open letter and wish to make your voice heard to the BBC
25.07.16 Update: The BBC replied to the open letter, see screenshot below or link here
London Campaign against Police and State Violence
Pragna Patel Director of Southall Black Sisters
Liz Harvey Kattou
Robert Armen Kazandjian
Ornette D Clennon
Black Activists Rising Against cuts, BARAC UK
David Osa Amadasun
Nottingham Solidarity Federation
The Monitoring Group
Dr Shazad Amin, MEND
Siana Bangura & Team No Fly on the WALL
Dhanveer Singh Brar
Hope Dickson Leach
Elisa Van Waeyenbergel
Lars Peter Laamann (SOAS, University of London)