BBC ‘cancels’ Israeli-Arab gold medal Paralympian


TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 02: Gold medalist Iyad Shalabi of Team Israel reacts during the men’s 50m Backstroke - S1 medal ceremony on day 9 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on September 02, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The BBC has refused to admit the first Arab gold medallist at this year’s Paralympics was Israeli in the latest slip-up by its Arabic language service.
Iyad Shalabi won the 100m backstroke final on 25 August, making him the first Arab Paralympian to claim gold at Tokyo.
Shalabi, 34 is the first Arab-Israeli citizen to win an individual medal in either the Paralympics or the Olympics. Born deaf-mute, aged 13 he was left paralysed after an accident.
But BBC Arabic coverage seemed to erase his achievement. It reported Jordanian weightlifter Omar Qaradah was “the first Arab with special needs to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games”, though his victory came on 26 August, the day after Shalabi’s.
In an article entitled “The most distinguished Arabs who grabbed the spotlight at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo”, the BBC failed to mention Shalabi at all.
The BBC’s Tokyo Roundup credited Qarada as “first Arab” to win a Paralympic medal in Tokyo. The false claim was repeated twice on BBC Arabic’s YouTube page, and in its Trending programme.
The BBC previously apologised for bias in the same show, after fawning coverage of a terrorist who masterminded the killing of 15 Israelis in 2001.
Head of the World Service Jamie Angus admitted to there having been a “lapse in [its] editorial standards”. In February, the JC revealed a pattern of anti-Israel bias and inaccuracies in the BBC’s Arabic output. 
The corporation acknowledged having made 25 mistakes in Arabic coverage of Israel in just over two years.
After a complaint by Israeli media watchdog CAMERA Arabic, the BBC amended its Paralympics coverage but still without mentioning the Israeli victory, changing “first Arab” to “first delegate of an Arab country”.
A CAMERA Arabic spokesman said that “while the inaccuracy may seem small, the BBC’s reluctance to even mention or count an Arab Israeli athlete’s victory prevents its Arabic-speaking audience from knowing that Israel was represented by an Arab at all. In fact he won gold for Israel.
“It’s a method of denying normalisation between Israel and Arab states.”

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