BBC responds to Barnabas Fund complaint

United Kingdom

The BBC has finally responded to the complaint made by Barnabas Aid more than a week ago – but refused to publish a correction and defended its comment.

Barnabas Aid complained about an all-embracing comment concerning Christian refugees seeking to enter the USA that was made by their New York correspondent Nick Bryant near the beginning of the BBC 10pm Sunday TV news:

“In an interview with an evangelical television network [President Trump] claimed without any factual basis the old Obama policy favoured Muslims over Christians” (emphasis added).

Barnabas Aid objected to the statement “without any factual basis” and pointed out that a 30 second google search by the BBC would have revealed not only Barnabas Aid, but a number of news outlets that have been reporting during the past year that only 0.5 of one percent of Syrian refugees admitted to the USA last year were Christians. This is despite them constituting up to 10% of Syria’s pre-war population and US Secretary of State John Kerry having accepted in March that they were facing genocide.

CC BY 2.0 by Elliott Brown

The BBC response stated: “Research by the Pew Center shows broadly equal numbers of Christians and Muslims being admitted in 2016 to the United States. This suggest that the very small percentage of Christian refugees coming to the US from Syria is untypical.” (emphasis added)

This is profoundly misleading. Syrian refugees represent the world’s largest current refugee crisis and the US Secretary of State conceded last March that they were facing genocide. It is wholly unacceptable for the BBC to seek to defend its comment by excluding them from the analysis. This is simply a selective use of statistics.

Not only that, the context of the interview that Nick Bryant was commenting on – which is still available on the BBC website - was specifically about Syrian refugees.

Yes – there has been a debate about why such a minuscule number of Syrian Christians have been granted US refugee visas. However, when the BBC made the sweeping assertion that there was “no factual basis” for the claim that Christians were being disadvantaged in seeking refugee resettlement in the West, it was either taking sides in that debate or denying that there is any debate.