Churches urge BBC to screen Gaza appeal

Christians across the UK have expressed their concern over the BBC's decision not to broadcast the Disasters Cmergency Committee appeal for the people of Gaza.

On Saturday, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: "This is not a row about impartiality but rather about humanity. This situation is akin to that of British military hospitals who treat prisoners of war as a result of their duty under the Geneva convention. They do so because they identify need rather than cause. This is not an appeal by Hamas asking for arms but by the Disasters Emergency Committee asking for relief. By declining their request, the BBC has already taken sides and forsaken impartiality."

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday echoed these comments. Speaking after a service in Cambridge, the Right Rev Rowan Williams said: "My feeling is that the BBC should broadcast an appeal."On Saturday, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, issued a statement criticising the BBC for its failure to broadcast an appeal from the Disasters emergency Committee for the people of Gaza.

Dr Sentamu said: "This is not a row about impartiality but rather about humanity. This situation is akin to that of British military hospitals who treat prisoners of war as a result of their duty under the Geneva convention. They do so because they identify need rather than cause. This is not an appeal by Hamas asking for arms but by the Disasters Emergency Committee asking for relief. By declining their request, the BBC has already taken sides and forsaken impartiality."

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday echoed these comments. Speaking after a service in Cambridge, the Right Rev Rowan Williams said: "My feeling is that the BBC should broadcast an appeal."

Among many messages sent to ICN, Johan Bergström-Allen, convener for the York Carmelite Spirituality Group wrote: "The recent conflict in Gaza has been distressing for all observers, including the Carmelite Order which has its origins in Israel-Palestine.

"Rather than preserving its impartiality the BBC's decision not to broadcast the appeal arguably highlights political bias within the Corporation. As many commentators and politicians (including members of the Cabinet) have stated today: 'How can anyone be impartial to human suffering?'"

The group urges members and friends to complain to the BBC by telephoning 03700 100 222, via the BBC website www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/, or writing to: BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Glasgow, G2 3WT.

It calls on readers to donate to the DEC: www.donate.bt.com/bt_form_gaza.html

The message concludes: "pray for the people of Gaza and of Israel, that peace will flourish in the land of the Holy One."