BBC exec: Charlie Hebdo attackers should not be called ‘terrorists’

The front page of the new issue of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo entitled "C'est Reparti" ("Here we go again"), is displayed at a kiosk in Nice February 25, 2015. (Reuters)

Extremist militants who killed 12 people in an attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris should not be described as “terrorists,” a BBC senior executive told The Independent in an interview published Wednesday.

“Terrorist” as a term is too “loaded” to describe these attackers, Tarik Kafala, the head of BBC Arabic, the largest of the BBC’s non-English language news services, said.

“We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist or an act as being terrorist. What we try to do is to say that ‘two men killed 12 people in an attack on the office of a satirical magazine’. That’s enough, we know what that means and what it is,” Kafala explained.

Kafala, whose BBC Arabic television, radio and online news services reach a weekly audience of 36 million people, said: “Terrorism is such a loaded word. The U.N. has been struggling for more than a decade to define the word and they can’t. It is very difficult to. We know what political violence is, we know what murder, bombings and shootings are and we describe them. That’s much more revealing, we believe, than using a word like terrorist which people will see as value-laden.”

Kafala’s comments are in line with BBC’s editorial guidelines on reporting extremist-linked attacks.

While BBC does not ban the use of the word “terrorist,” it says “we do ask that careful thought is given to its use by a BBC voice.”

BBC guidelines advise on the use of words that specifically describe the perpetrator such as “bomber,” “attacker,” “gunman,” “kidnapper” or “militant.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44