British Expatriate Gives a First-Hand Account of Events in Manama, Repudiates BBC's Coverage of Protests in Bahrain

Mar 19, 2011, 12:28 ET from Bahrain TV

MANAMA, Bahrain, March 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The British Broadcasting Company's (BBC) reporting on the recent events in Bahrain has been "appalling" and "one-sided" says Nigel Goddard, a Cambridge-educated British engineer living in Bahrain since 1981. In a note to the BBC, Goddard describes that the BBC's reporting from Manama has failed to address the sensitivities of Bahrain's complex culture and people. Supporting the Bahraini government's response to the social disruption, Goddard stated that "such upheaval has to be reined in."

Mr. Goddard argues that the BBC has not shown a measured account of the protests in Bahrain and has failed to give a fair account of the Bahraini government's response. BBC failed to perform "due diligence in the rush to go live" and misreported actual events to "feed shock-hungry viewers," he says in his letter.

Regarding the perception that the government used excessive force on protesters, Goddard notes that, "no tanks were used in Pearl clearance - only a van-sized APC at crawling speed.  Helicopters over Pearl were filming, no air-raid, no 'onslaught'."

Goddard details the misrepresentation that Bahrain's current social upheaval is derived from sectarianism among the people. He says that BBC reports "lump all Shia together and depict the problems here as a Sunni-Shia split." He furthers his point saying, "This is not what most Shia at Pearl were saying to visitors who wanted to hear their view: sectarianism is expressly not what they wanted to raise."

Goddard also depicts the lawless tactics used by certain group of protesters. "Pearl diversions first caused gridlock, then we had multiple roadblocks across our biggest highway using truckloads of sand, concrete blocks and roadwork barriers," he said. "Imagine this in London - but we don't have hundreds of alternative routes," Goddard said, describing how relatively few protesters caused "paralysis in a small country."

With regard to allegations that Salmaniya Hospital was blocked off by troops, Goddard refutes the widely held perception saying he witnessed, "one tank, several police vans and army personnel outside the entrance, filtering traffic to pass slowly."

Mr. Goddard also argues that BBC should not juxtapose Bahrain with other situations of unrest exhibited in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, or Syria. "Bahrain is a relatively progressive Arab state already on the road to a democratic future," he says, noting that BBC reporting inflames "an already impassioned situation."

Mr. Goddard closes his note to the BBC saying, "We feel your recent shallow, one-sided coverage is effectively inciteful… we hope you tighten up your journalism to what millions still expect."