LONDON: The BBC’s former religion editor Martin Bashir asked Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan if he was “ashamed of being a Muslim” after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Khan revealed in his autobiography that he was “shocked” by Bashir’s line of questioning when he was contacted after the tragedy.
“After 9/11, I will never forget he (Bashir) rang me up and he said: ‘Aren’t you ashamed of being a Muslim,’” said Khan, who was interviewed by the journalist in Pakistan.
“‘As a Muslim, aren’t you embarrassed by the attacks?’ was his immediate question. I was shocked,” Khan wrote.
“Implying all the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims should feel responsible for an act of a handful of criminals is like asking a Christian to feel responsible for Hitler or Stalin’s atrocities, or asking a Catholic if they support the IRA blowing up children at Omagh. I expected a backlash after 9/11, but had not anticipated its ferocity,” he added.
It was part of the “rising Islamophobia” in the West that falsely portrayed all Muslims as “baddies,” said Khan, who was elected as Pakistan’s leader in 2018.
He said the phone call with Bashir, who then worked for ITN, was an example of how some in the West used the Sep. 11 attacks to put “all Muslims on trial” and merely “alienated many normal Muslims.”
Bashir, Khan concluded, was “not the best of journalists.”
The journalist, who retired from the profession in May this year citing health reasons, has also been the subject of significant scrutiny for his reporting methods in other cases, most prominently with his treatment of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper revealed last year that Bashir had used forgery and deception to trick her into giving him an interview in 1995 that some blamed on her eventual split from Prince Charles. She died in 1997 in a car crash.
Following an inquiry, the BBC found that Bashir had used “deceitful” methods to secure an interview with her and that a “woefully ineffective” internal investigation had covered his tracks.
Khan and Diana were friends and she visited Pakistan numerous times. He attended her funeral alongside Hasnat Khan, her former boyfriend and a distant relative of the cricket star.