On Monday evening, thousands of protestors gathered outside the BBC’s London headquarters to express their dissatisfaction with the broadcaster’s reporting on the recent terrorist attacks in Israel.
The BBC has come under fire for refusing to label the Palestinian group Hamas, which was responsible for the deaths of almost 2,000 people on October 7, as a terrorist organization. Instead, the BBC referred to them as “militants.” The U.K. government officially designated Hamas as a terrorist organization in 2021.
Protestors, many of whom were waving Israeli flags, assembled outside New Broadcasting House, chanting slogans such as “shame on you,” “justice,” and “Hamas are terrorists.” Some BBC staff members could be observed watching the protest from inside the building.
Speakers at the rally included former BBC presenter Jonny Gould and Talk TV host Andre Walker. Gould, who hosts the Jewish State podcast, criticized the BBC for what he saw as its sanitization and excuse of Hamas’s actions. He referenced a tweet by longtime BBC broadcaster John Simpson, who had stated that labeling someone a terrorist was equivalent to taking sides and compromising impartiality.
Walker addressed the crowd, highlighting the unique nature of the recent attacks in Israel and condemning the BBC’s stance on terrorist activities. He emphasized that there should be no compromise when it comes to heinous acts such as beheading children, burning people alive, and murdering innocent civilians.
Other speakers included an Israeli who had lost friends in the attacks, an Iranian woman who drew parallels between the fight against Hamas and the struggle of ordinary Iranians against their authoritarian leaders, and a rabbi who concluded the event with a prayer
While the BBC maintains that its choice of the term “militants” over “terrorists” is in line with its editorial policy of providing impartial coverage, critics argue that the broadcaster has used the term “terrorist” in the past to describe acts of violence where the victims were European. This includes the 2015 Paris Bataclan attacks, a 2020 shooting in Vienna, Austria, and a stabbing in London that same year.
The controversy surrounding the BBC’s reporting has led to the resignation of BBC Derby sports reporter Noah Abrahams and criticism from government officials, including Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.