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Arab row Kilroy is dumped off air; Fury at suicide bomber rant.

Byline: By Anita Singh

PRESENTER Robert Kilroy Silk's TV career looked in tatters last night after he branded Arabs suicide bombers, limb amputators and women repressors.

The former Labour MP made the comments in a Sunday newspaper column.

The article appeared under the headline ``We Owe Arabs Nothing''.

Amid a growing storm yesterday, embarrassed BBC bosses decided to take his daytime show off the air while they hold an investigation.

An insider said: ``It is no understatement to say his remarks were considered by many to be totally outrageous and could cost him his job.''

The Commission for Racial Equality has referred the matter to the police.

In a statement yesterday, his TV bosses said: ``The BBC strongly disassociates itself from the views expressed in an article by Robert Kilroy-Silk in The Sunday Expressof January 4,2004.

``We stress that these comments do not reflect the views of the BBC.

``The BBC is taking the Kilroy programme off air immediately while we investigate this matter.''

His morning show, which attracts ratings of 1.2 million viewers, will be partly replaced on Monday by the BBC Breakfast show running half anhour longer.

There has not yet been a decision on what will be screened during the second half of the hour-long Kilroy slot.

The 61-year-old will be hauled before Jana Bennett, the BBC's Director of Television, and Alison Sharman, head of daytime shows, in the next few days.

The investigation will focus on whether he has breached strict new rules banning BBC employees fromwriting columns.

Beeb chiefs took action after Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Moslem Council of Britain, complained to BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessey about Kilroy-Silk's views.

Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesman for the Moslem Association of Britain, said: ``If Kilroy really believes that Arabs have contributed nothing to civilisation so far, the community's contribution to taking him off the TV will be a good start.''

Labour MP Lynne Jones yesterday tabled a Commons motions, condemning Kilroy Silk's ``racist comments''.

CRE chairman Trevor Phillips said the presenter's views were ``indisputably stupid''.

In his article, Kilroy-Silk said Arab states ``murdered more than 3000 civilians on September 11 and then danced in the hot, dusty streets to celebrate''.

He added that ``despotic, barbarous and corrupt Arab states'' were populated by ``suicide bombers'', limb amputators'' and women repressors''.

Ironically, the piece first appeared on April 6 last year at the height of the Iraq war but it did not provoke the same fury.

The column was repeated in full last Sunday with a few minorchanges and a different headline. Yesterday, Kilroy-Silk was keeping a low profile.

His wife Jan answered the phone at their home in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, and said: ``He's not here, he has nothing to say.''

But the Sunday Express reacted furiously and called on the BBC to reinstate the host.

It is not the first time Kilroy Silk's views have provoked anger.

In 1995, he wrote a piece for the Daily Express which was also referred to the PCC.

In it, he said: ``Moslems everywhere behave with equal savagery. They behead criminals, stone to death female adulteresses and throw acid in the faces of women who refuse to wear the chadar.''



ATTACK: Kilroy; slammed Arabs in his column for a Sunday paper, inset
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 10, 2004
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