The head of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Arabic news channel said the Islamic terrorists who killed 12 people in an attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo should not be labeled “terrorists,” calling the term too “loaded.”
Tarik Kalafa is the head of BBC Arabic, a 2008 spin-off of the internationally ubiqiutous British news service that serves nearly 11 million homes across the Middle East. On Sunday, Kalafa spoke with The Independent about his network’s coverage of the Kouachi brothers, two Islamic terrorists who wreaked havoc across Paris before dying in a shootout with police on January 9.
“We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist or an act as being terrorist,” he said. “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.”
“Terrorism is such a loaded word,” Kalafa continued. ”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.”
It’s the latest iteration of a media organization struggling to define those behind the worldwide surge in Islamic terrorist activities. On Tuesday, National Review Online obtained an internal email showing the head of output at Al Jazeera English warning journalists against using the terms “terrorists,” “extremists,” “militants” or “jihadists” when describing the actions taken by radical Islamist groups. “Avoid characterizing people,” the Al Jazeera executive admonished.