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BBC TV Sparks Outrage by Hosting Far-Right Leader Nick Griffin

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The BBC invited Nick Griffin, leader of the whites-only British National Party, to its flagship political show Thursday. The move is meeting sharp criticism from a broad range of critics, including former military leaders.

By Ben Quinn
Christian Science Monitor


London - Hundreds of antifascist protesters laid siege to the BBC's London studios today ahead of a highly controversial debut by the leader of the far-right British National Party (BNP) on the broadcaster's flagship political-debate show.

The BBC faces a storm of criticism for inviting Nick Griffin onto "Question Time," which the BNP's opponents warn is the party's biggest coup since the whites-only organization won two seats in this year's elections for the European Parliament. The appearance has galvanized public opinion, engaged military leaders opposed to the BNP's use of its symbols, and raised concerns that views once clearly labeled as extremist are being allowed to move into the mainstream.

Nigel Copsey, an expert on the far right, says tonight's program would be highly symbolic.

"Following [Mr. Griffin's] appearance on 'Question Time,' it will become even more difficult to claim that the BNP has not become part of the political mainstream, even if only as a minority party," he says.

Until now, organized opposition to the BNP has largely come from the Labour Party, trade unions, and activists like those picketing BBC headquarters today.

Peter Hain, a government minister, described the BBC's invitation to Mr. Griffin as its worst decision in recent times. Others said the BBC would be morally responsible for any resulting rise in racist attacks....(Remainder.)

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