A group of legislators of Labour party has criticised the BBC for not referring to the Mumbai attackers as “terrorists” in its news bulletins but the UK-based news organisation has defended the practice.
The BBC chooses to call such attackers as “militants” or “bombers”.
Criticising the news channel, Stephen Pound, chairman of the Labour Friends of India, said: “This is the worst sort of mealy mouthed posturing. It is desperation to avoid causing offence which ultimately causes more offence to everyone. The terrorist term is universal.
“The result is innocent victims slaughtered in restaurants by men brandishing machine guns. They are terrorists and the BBC should call them that,” Stephen said describing the attacks in Mumbai where around 200 people, including foreigners, were killed last week.
However, a BBC spokesman said: “This is nothing to do with political correctness. We are not calling them freedom fighters. We are calling them ‘bombers’ or ‘militants’.
“The fact is terrorist does not have a universal meaning. It translates as freedom fighters in certain languages. We are not alone in not calling them terrorists.”
“The word ‘terrorist’ is not banned from the BBC. BBC editorial guidelines are advisory but editors will exercise their own judgement on a case by case basis. The guidelines are aimed to support the BBC’s journalism not only in the UK but around the world and to cover a wide spectrum of global and political scenarios.
“They advise that we should report acts of terror quickly, accurately, fully and responsibly but that we should take care in the use of language that we use in our own scripts and reports. No one who has followed the BBC coverage of the attacks in Mumbai could be in any doubt of the full horror of last week’s atrocity,” he said.
The BBC, however, reported other people describing the Mumbai attackers as ‘terrorists’.
“We are implementing the same guidelines as a number of other major media organisations who also do not use the word ‘terrorist’. The BBC always reports other people using the word, such as politicians or police chiefs,” he added.