Martin Bashir’s ‘shocking’ insult to cricket hero Imran Khan: BBC journalist asked sports legend if he was ‘ashamed of being a Muslim’ after the 9/11 terror attacks
- Cricket legend said he was ‘shocked’ by the question following the 2001 atrocity
- Pakistan leader cited conversation in interview discussion about Islamophobia
- He described Bashir – the BBC’s ex-religion editor – as ‘not the best of journalists’
- Bashir used forgery and deception to persuade Diana to do Panorama interview
Disgraced journalist Martin Bashir asked Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan if he was ‘ashamed of being a Muslim’ after the 9/11 attacks on the US.
The cricket legend said he was ‘shocked’ by the question after being contacted following the 2001 atrocity.
The Pakistan leader cited the conversation in the context of an interview discussion about Islamophobia – hatred or prejudice against Muslims. Mr Khan, a close friend of Princess Diana through ex-wife Jemima Goldsmith, called it part of a pattern of ‘sensationalist reporting against Muslims’ in some of the Western media, which he said had led to ‘rising Islamophobia’.
He described Bashir – the BBC’s former religion editor – as ‘not the best of journalists’.
The Mail revealed last year how the journalist used forgery and deception to persuade Diana to grant him the 1995 BBC Panorama interview blamed by some for her final split from Prince Charles in 1996.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan pictured with then wife Jemima (centre) and Princess Diana outside the Shaukat Khanum Trust Hospital in Lahore in 1997
The BBC ordered an inquiry and apologised in May after Lord Dyson found Bashir had used ‘deceitful’ methods later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who was then head of news and current affairs, but went on to become BBC director-general. Bashir’s interview with Mr Khan in the aftermath of the terror attacks on the US in September 2001 is the latest in a series of damaging allegations about his controversial journalistic methods.
‘After 9/11, I will never forget he [Bashir] rang me up and he said, “Aren’t you ashamed of being a Muslim”,’ said Mr Khan, who was interviewed in Pakistan. He gave more details of the call from Bashir, who worked for ITN in 2001, in his autobiography.
He wrote: ‘The first phone call I received from a journalist after 9/11 was from ITN’s Martin Bashir. “As a Muslim, aren’t you embarrassed by the attacks?” was his immediate question. I was shocked.
‘Implying all the world’s 1.3billion 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.’
Mr Khan continued: ‘I expected a backlash after 9/11, but had not anticipated its ferocity.’ It was part of ‘rising Islamophobia’ in the West which falsely portrayed all Muslims as ‘baddies’, Mr Khan wrote.
He said the phone call was an example of how some in the West were using 9/11 to put ‘all Muslims on trial’ and merely ‘alienated many normal Muslims’.
Bashir, the son of Muslim parents from Pakistan who settled in Britain, converted from Islam to Christianity as an adult.
At the time of the 2001 Al Qaeda attack on America, Mr Khan was married to Miss Goldsmith, sister of Tory minister and peer Zac. Diana discussed with her the possibility of moving to Pakistan with Hasnat Khan, her boyfriend at the time of the Panorama interview. The heart surgeon was based in London but born in Pakistan.
Bashir (pictured above), the son of Muslim parents from Pakistan who settled in Britain, converted from Islam to Christianity as an adult.
The Mail revealed last year how the journalist used forgery and deception to persuade Diana to grant him the 1995 BBC Panorama interview blamed by some for her final split from Charles
Shortly before her death in 1997, Diana visited the country with Miss Goldsmith on a private jet belonging to her billionaire father Sir James Goldsmith to meet Dr Khan’s parents.
Earlier this year, Dr Khan – a distant relative of Imran Khan – told the Mail that ‘cunning’ Bashir preyed on the ‘vulnerable’ princess. He told Diana that Bashir was dangerous and to ‘have nothing to do with him’.
Diana visited Pakistan several times and helped Mr Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister since 2018, raise money for a cancer hospital. He and Miss Goldsmith attended her funeral.
Bashir resigned from the BBC in May citing health reasons. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.