“Inshallah” on the BBC: a cultural cringe?

Melanie Phillips’s Diary » The Beeb’s cultural cringe

Melanie Phillips reproduces emails one Brian Gilbert sent to her (not sure who he is; there is a film director by that name, but it may well not be him) in which he complained to the BBC about the use of “insha Allah” by the BBC reporter Hugh Sykes, who was reporting from Baghdad. He insists that al-Jazeera reporters do not use phrases like “‘For Jesus Christ’s sake’ or ‘Deo volente’ or ‘Shalom’”, that “poor old sentimental, lugubrious Hugh Sykes has, in the old unfortunate phrase, ‘gone native’”, and that “many of those hoping to kill British and American soldiers, as well as innocent Iraqis, will be using the same expression regularly, and with religious intent”.

Does he not realise that many of these same innocent Iraqis use the phrase all the time, as does pretty much every Muslim any time he’s talking about something that he expects to happen in the future? The likelihood, given that Sykes was addressing a British audience, was that this was not a “cultural cringe” to the Iraqis at all, but rather the unthinking use of a phrase he heard Iraqis use all the time.

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