Belfast Telegraph

BBC's Nolan clashes with Katie Hopkins over Muslim remarks

By Jonny Bell and Cate McCurry

Broadcaster Stephen Nolan has hit back at claims by controversial columnist and radio host Katie Hopkins after the pair clashed over a debate on Donald Trump's immigration ban.

Ms Hopkins was a guest on yesterday's Nolan Show when she defended comments made by a caller from Northern Ireland who said she would rather die than be treated by a Muslim doctor.

The woman, named Janice, from Belfast, rang in to ask why "so many Muslims wanted to come to our country when there are so many Muslim countries they could go to?"

The woman also said that Muslims "wanted to take over the country". The comments sparked a huge reaction from callers to the show.

Yesterday, Nolan reported on social attitudes from the 2015 Life and Times survey. It suggested that 45% of people here would not accept a Muslim as a resident, 50% would not accept a Muslim as a colleague and another 60% would not have a Muslim as a close friend.

To discuss the survey and Janice's comments, Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of Muslim think-tank the Ramadhan Foundation, was joined by the Daily Mail columnist.

Ms Hopkins said Donald Trump's ban on refugees entering the US from some countries was not anti-Muslim but rather an "invitation to be American". And she said Mr Nolan was "wrong" to say the woman's views were "extreme".

Ms Hopkins then went on to ask why Mr Nolan was not discussing the travel ban on the Israeli people.

"Are you aware of it Stephen, why are you not talking about it, why is there no fuss about it?"

Mr Nolan responded: "Katie, here is the score. You have got a weekend radio show, I present nine radio shows a week. Don't tell me how to do my job."

The row later spilled over to Twitter when Ms Hopkins accused the BBC presenter of having no opinion "on anything".

He replied: "I have lots of opinions. I even have an opinion on you. But while I work for the BBC, I won't express it on air and I'm proud of the BBC."

The chair of the Community Relations Council, Peter Osborne, also weighed in on the row, describing it as an "appalling debate".

He tweeted after the show: "Invite racist attitudes on air, then express outrage and wonder why increase in racist attitudes?"

When asked how many complaints the BBC received, a spokesman said: "We wouldn't generally disclose information about the number or nature of complaints we receive about BBC Northern Ireland output."

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