BBC criticised for ‘strikingly hostile’ interview with Muslim female leader


More than 100 public figures – including politicians, journalists and academics – have signed an open letter to the BBC criticising a "disappointing and strikingly hostile" interview with the first female secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

Zara Mohammed, 29, was repeatedly asked how many female imams there were in Britain by Emma Barnett, presenter of the BBC Radio 4 programme "Woman’s Hour", during an interview on 4 February.

The letter called on the BBC to commit to programmes ensuring diverse production and editorial teams, and to issue a statement recommitting to engaging with Muslim women and those from historically marginalised communities in good faith. It said "the interview appeared intent on re-enforcing damaging and prejudicial tropes about Islam and Muslim women," and the tone of the interview "must be seriously assessed."

Mohammed, a Glaswegian consultant, became the first woman to lead the MCB, as well as its youngest.


"Despite Mohammed’s repeated claims that religious adjudication was not within the parameters of her role leading a civil society organisation, Barnett asked the question about female imams four times, each time interrupting Mohammed’s answer," the letter stated.

"The framing of the interview and clipping up of the ‘female imam’ segment for social media mirrored the style and tone of an accountability interview with a politician, rather than authentically recognising and engaging in what this represented for British Muslim women."

The BBC allegedly removed the original tweet with a clip of Mohammed’s interview after receiving complaints.    ( 

More on this topic