30/06/2017 Newsnight


Pakistani student murdered in the name of the blasphemy laws, latest on the Grenfell Tower fire and Jon Ronson on his latest offering, Okja.

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A brilliant student in Pakistan is brutally murdered in the name


The mob think he is a blasphemer. This is where he tried to hide from


the mob. They found him here. They kicked him, beat him, hit him with


sticks and shot him. and how British Imams should be


responding. I've therefore decided to step down


as leader of the council. It's ridiculous he thought he could


hang on. It's really great. Kensington and Chelsea


council leader steps down We speak to Jon Ronson,


co writer of Okja, the latest film to confront our


insatiable carnivorous habits. Good evening, first, more on the


controversy over lading and buildings razed by the Grenfell


Tower tragedy. Newsnight discovered crucial details about why so many


about buildings managed to get cladding installed that does not


meet normal safety standards. Chris, what have you found out this


evening. We have to take a step back to


remember how you get cladding signed off by the building inspectors. The


first way is to test all of the parts of the cladding you wish to


put up in a laboratory and check it is basically impossible to set on


fire. The second thing you can do, we have a video showing it, is if


you want to use a bit of material that is a little flammable, is you


can put that material into a furnish arcs effectively, in the


configuration you want to use it to see if it holds up. But there are


other routes, one is a desktop test. You say, you have done a proper fire


test in a laboratory, I want to do something similar to that, so I'll


get an engineer to say what you are proposing is the same as that over


there. What we discovered over the last few weeks is that the desktop


tests are used more widely than anyone respectable or responsible


thought and there are serious problems with the quality. We think


they are widespread. We have managed to get hol of a couple of things


that are secretive. These are documents. We managed to get hold of


two produced by a company. They relate to using combustible


insulation like a Grenfell Tower with aluminium composite panels on


the outside like the Grenfell Tower. They relate to quality like Grenfell


but the same sort of design. The thing about the panels, is that they


behave oddly in a fire. It is two bits of aluminium around the core of


a substance. Some have plastic inside? Some do.


In the fire the aluminium can expose what is on the inside. So in a fire


that is dangerous. So aluminium combustible panels behave in an


unusual way. We have two of the examples and a quote here. It shows


that they say, they believe that the panels, if tested would believe the


same as a test that they conducted with ceramic tiles. They do not


behave in a fire in a similar way to ceramic tiles. The documents are


handed over to a building inspector, and on the basis of them say that


you have done the work, tick. We know that for example, this research


was used in Portsmouth in Unite student accommodation. This is


justifying stuff going on this buildings. We spoke to people who


did not believe that this was being used. But this is how some of this


stuff is on the buildings. What are the implications tonight?


We have to say that the Unite students who own that building in


Portsmouth says it has a large number of fire safety measures, they


were open with us, doing routine fire testing and taking up the


Government's offer much the free testing of the cladding. They were


open with us. Kingspan, they paid for the reports, they make the


insulation, they paid the engineers to produce the reports so that the


insulation is used in the context. And said that they always get this


from the UK's most respected fire inspecting consultancis, and they


are confident that they are not compromised.


But another company, refused to comment throughout on the basis of


client confidentiality. We have some of the reports but they are yet to


respond for comment. Keep going. Thank you, Chris.


The brutal killing in Pakistan of Mashal Kahn exposes deep


divisions in the country, and puts pressure on British Imams


to distance themselves from the country's blasphemy laws,


and the way they are used to legitimise violence.


A brilliant student, Mashal, was brutally murdered by a mob


on a university campus in Pakistan earlier this year after he was


The killing has caused widespread outrage and has even led to calls


to change the country's strict blasphemy laws.


A horrific lynching captured on camera on a university campus.


The mob, though, think he's a blasphemer.


This was Mashal Khan's room, where he tried to hide from the mob.


They kicked him, they beat him, they hit him with sticks


The issue of blasphemy has long divided Pakistani society.


And some hope this case could finally lead to some reform.


But others are deadly opposed to that.


This is the village of Zaida in Pakistan's northern


And it's where his family still live.


Mashal was an outstanding journalism student with an interest


Abdul Wali Khan University is one of Pakistan's newest institutions,


with a student population of over 12,000.


It is just an hour's drive away from Mashal's village.


The campus has been closed since Mashal's murder.


Over there, that building is the Department of Journalism


Over there is the hostel that he lived in and it is where he died.


This is him alongside Abdullah, who had also been


accused of blasphemy, and another journalism student.


Mashal would debate with more conservative students.


He described himself as a Muslim but also as a liberal.


Over time, debates turned to threats.


He used to discuss with religious fanatics.


He knew that but he used to discuss these things.


He was accused of being an atheist agnostic.


Blasphemy allegations are often used in Pakistan as a way


Mashal's father believes this video of him criticising alleged


corruption in the university a few days before his death led


Police have also collected evidence suggesting student politicians,


jealous of Mashal's influence, wanted him out of the university.


It is hard to know what of that is true.


What we do know is that most of those who took part


in the violence did believe Mashal was a blasphemer.


I think at one time the notion was, that if somebody wanted


to get somebody killed, they will go hire what are known


He will either be killed or forced to leave the country.


The day of the lynching, it seems, began like any other.


Mashal apparently had no idea what was about to happen.


A group of students demanded to see the lecturers,


accusing Mashal and two of his friends of having


As the mob continued to grow, Mashal was frantically


"They are falsely saying I insulted the Prophet".


His friend replies, "Mashal, where are you?"


Then the mob made their way to Mashal's hostel.


There, they found him hiding in his room on the second floor.


I came here the day after the murders.


Now, over a month, and nothing has changed.


These are the bloodstains where it seems the authorities think


that Mashal was lined up against the wall and shot.


At least two eyewitnesses that I have spoken to say that


after he was shot he was still alive and they tried to carry his body


To try to get him some help because after the shots rang out,


the mob dispersed and they were able to try and rescue him.


But when they got to the bottom of these stairs, the mob had


reassembled and they managed to grab his body back.


From this point, Mashal's last moments are captured


His fellow students beat him as he lay dying.


The videos were instantly shared across Pakistan.


Mashal was eventually dragged outside.


Even long after he was dead, they continued beating his body.


Police were present but were either unable or unwilling to stop them.


Dozens of Mashal's fellow students who appeared in the videos


Some were members of religious student organisations.


I wanted to understand what was behind their brutality.


Wajahat is not accused of having beaten Mashal but of helping incite


the attacks by accusing him of blasphemy in front


We have got hold of a letter written by Wajahat to a number of religious


scholars he is effectively encouraging to support


And in it, he goes into a lot more detail about the alleged blasphemy


He talks about one conversation in particular that he had


with Mashal about Adam and Eve in which Mashal is saying,


why is incest forbidden in Islam if Adam and Eve's children


would have had incestuous relationships with each other


Mashal's killers have their sympathisers.


This was a rally just weeks after the murder,


It was addressed by a number of former MPs, including this man,


a leading local figure in an Islamist party.


Whatever he might, or is alleged to have said, nothing can justify


killing someone, and especially not in that way.


After the death, the family are hosting a memorial.


40 days after Mashal's death, the family are hosting


A rally this large in support of someone accused of blasphemy


Most Pakistanis, religious or not, are sympathetic to Mashal's case,


But none of the political parties are seriously talking


about reforming the blasphemy law because of the resistance


Unlike extremist groups such as the Taliban, the law does have deep


support in many quarters. the law does have deep support


in many quarters. Mashal's family are torn


between hoping that his death could lead to a more open,


tolerant society and worrying alleged failings by the police


and the university could be covered You can see a longer version


of Secunder Kermani's film on Our World on the BBC


News Channel at 9.30pm on Sunday night and,


of course, on the iPlayer. We're joined by Haras Rafiq,


who is the chief executive of the counter-extremism


organisation Quilliam International. What is your reaction to that film


and what happened? I have seen some of this before and this is the tip


of the iceberg, since 1987 thousands of people have been accused of


blasphemy and charged and at least 65 of them have not made it to


court. In the case of accusing someone of blasphemy, has that been


a cover in many ways to attack them? Obviously lynching is not allowed


but has that been a copper because he expressed left-wing views or is


it a straight blasphemy accusation? Will not, if you look at the


blasphemy laws, at some stage you do not need witnesses. At the top end,


the long sentences somebody to death, then you need witnesses and


what we have seen is instances where people have used it to settle scores


but more than that, there has been a deep sanitisation of the normally


very tolerant versions of Islam and people are believing that the law


gives them the opportunity to behave that way. How does that correspond


to attitudes here and what the imams are saying here? This is the most


recent one and there was a case before this were a politician was


actually killed for daring to challenge reform of the blasphemy


law, killed by his bodyguard, who was from the moderate tradition.


Moderate yet Conservative, moderate in every other way when it comes to


Islamist and terrorism but on this issue, very focused on the blasphemy


law and when his killer was sentenced, he was praised, the


killer was praised here in some of the largest mosques in the country.


Are you suggesting that there would be a situation where what happened


to Mashal would be condoned here? It was, the killing of somebody because


they dare to challenge blasphemy laws was condoned and by imams...


Interestingly, some imams will be very vociferous about this but do


you think that people still fear speaking out, even to say that


blasphemy law should be changed? We have been talking about repealing


the blasphemy law in Pakistan because it is not fit for purpose,


it is not Islamic, it was brought there by the British Empire. Why is


it so important for people here to relate to the blasphemy law? If you


look at the last census, nearly 69% of Muslims in this country, from the


Indian Pakistani and Bangladeshi region and the overwhelming majority


come from Pakistan, they control the imams, who have been supporting the


blasphemy law there and the killers still control a lot of mosques in


this country and the largest mosque outside London was actually


supporting the killer of Salman Taseer publicly. What should be


done? You are in organisation trying to stop radicalisation of you


suggest there is no appetite amongst imams to speak out? The problem is


not the appetite, it can be dangerous. If you look at before


Finsbury Park, the last three high-profile killings in this


country were done by other Muslims because you were considered


non-Muslim enough, Glasgow, Rochdale and London. It can be dangerous as


well but above that, there is a tradition, but I come from, where


the majority of Muslims in this country who want everything else are


moderate but on this issue still support the blasphemy law. We have


no idea what the attitude is in the mosque you are talking about but


thank you very much for joining us. It has taken pressure


from Downing Street and nearly two weeks of condemnation but finally


today the leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council has resigned


over the Grenfell Tower tragedy. In a statement, Nicholas Paget-Brown


said he accepted his share of responsibility for the perceived


failings of the authority. The latest of those was his refusal


to let the local residents and the press into a council


meeting last night.... Then, when a court order


overruled his decision, He has faced a barrage of criticism


since the night of the fire, criticism which came from all sides,


not least about the council's chaotic response and his refusal


to admit they could not cope. I have to accept my share of


responsibility for these perceived In particular, my decision to accept


legal advice that I should not compromise the public enquiry


by having an open discussion in public yesterday has itself


become a political story. I therefore decided to step down


as leader of the council. Almost immediately after


Paget-Brown stepped down, the deputy leader of the council


also resigned and, earlier today, Robert Black, the chief executive


of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Association, announced


he was stepping aside from his role Pilgrim Tucker is a community


organiser who is working Quite a lot of activity today but


what difference will this make to residents? Hopefully, now that Mr


Paget-Brown has gone and the Deputy Leader has gone, we can replace them


with people who are competent and care about the residents. It is the


case that Sadiq Khan is denied saying that the council should be


set aside and new commissioners should be put in by the government,


would the residents support that? I think trust in the Cabinet has gone,


trust in the console and they were not confident in them years ago.


They were complaining and trying to raise these this year's and the


aftermath has been disastrous, as we can see, and new people need to be


put in place. In terms of on the ground, a council workers augmented


by central government civil servants, how either residents


doing? Westminster is still struggling, there is a lack of


communication, they are unclear about what is happening in the


future to them regarding housing. They are still confused. Are they


all highest? They are in temporary accommodation. -- highest. Hotels?


Yes, but I know there are families in unsuitable accommodation,


children sharing rooms with adults, in one room, and so on. You have


worked with the residents would you talk about the fact that people


actually have not been exercising their rights, is a feeling that in


the past, although you have been pushing for the residents because


they have serious concerns, that there is a feeling that the


authorities seem to know best? Those residents really tried very hard to


exercise their rights and that console, two of those councillors


have stepped down, those councillors did not respond and would not


listen. That is a big problem with democracy and accountability. And


they listened more to the private sector. Do you think there is a


democratic deficit, not least because you do not have the same


system of local papers and so forth to dig stuff out? There is a


democratic deficit, we also have this increasingly powerful private


sector involved in local government. And councillors in this case wanted


to listen to them but I think even in other areas of London, where


councillors are trying to respond to residents, the private sector has


too much power and we need to increase scrutiny and oversight and


I think we need to diminish the role of the private sector in local


government and increase regulation and start to appreciate the


important things that the state and regulation can give us. That is the


vehicle for us to have democracy. You talk about things that can


change and it is often hard to see what good could come out of this


dreadful tragedy but do you think there could be further re-engage


meant in local politics and a different way of doing council


activity? Hopefully people will recognise the importance of our


local governing institutions and the importance of them really being


responsive to the people who have elected those people, councillors,


government, locally and nationally, have a duty of care, they command a


lot of resources on our behalf and it is very important that they are


responsive and this is a terribly horrible example, the build-up to


this went on for years with people trying to get these people to


listen. These people need to step down and the whole council needs to


step down. What is important that the government must start listening


to residents and the public enquiry. Before that, this new deadline for


next week for people to get houses, what are the chances of not being


met and what would happen if it is not met? I think the only thing they


have assured us is more temporary accommodation so I think there are a


lot of promises which are not being met and fluffy statements which are


temporary buffers to keep people happy for now. And the really


important thing is, like the residents have said so very clearly


to politicians, be honest with us, treat us with the intelligence and


respect that we deserve and most important is the public enquiry. Do


not give us false promises, we are intelligent people and we will hold


you accountable. Thank you very much indeed.


The plight of animals bred and either paraded as entertainment


or slaughtered for the delectation of humans has long been fertile


territory for Hollywood, from Charlotte's Web to Babe


But the latest feature film to confront our insatiable


carnivorous habits has been made not for the big screen but by Netflix


for our tablets and iPads, and packs a much more visceral punch.


I will be joined by the director in a moment but first, a club.


Okja is the new film by Korean director Bong Joon-ho and stars


an adorable giant pig-like creature called Okja and her even more


beguiling friend, Mija, who grow up together


But the big, bad American food corporation who created her


I'm joined by the film's co-writer, Jon Ronson.


Good evening. The film starts off very much as a lyrical fairy tale,


incredibly soft, and then you get into a really visceral world where


actually, a lot of dreadful things happen to this wonderful creature or


potentially? Who is a film for? I think it is finding its audience,


people are watching this and loving it, the director, Bong Joon-ho, is


so great that he can do these crazy tonal shifts, sometimes it is like a


children's movie, beguiling, like fable, and then becomes dark and


upsetting and is appealing to all those people although it should not


be watched by young children because it does get incredibly and dark


later on. It does pack a punch. Is it a straightforward campaigning


film or is it more nuanced about human feelings? It is not a


campaigning film, what it is, most of all, I hope, is a beautiful film.


It is enchanting and disturbing and dark and entertaining so I think we


valued aesthetics over ideology. However, it is really dark and it


ends up in a slaughterhouse for magical animals and as a


consequence, a lot of people will become vegetarians! You say this is


not a campaigning film but if you look at a number of other films,


Hollywood movies, the inexorable drive is towards vegetarianism. Is


that what you think is the message of the film? It is not the message


of the film, it is the inevitable consequence. I guess one of the


messages is about cognitive dissonance. We treat ourselves into


believing that the meat that we eat has nothing to do with the pets that


we love but we know that pigs are just as adorable and smart as dogs,


so to eat the meat you need to see inside the slaughterhouse. What is


so amazing about this film is the director has made the scenes inside


the slaughterhouse which most other directors would make grotesque, he


has made it haunting and beautiful. But it is absolutely visceral, we


must not shy away from that. Much more so than any other of these


Hollywood movies. Netflix has made this! What do you make of this? No


one else would have. This is a $50 million movie, half of this is in


Korea and it ends up in incredibly dark places and no studio would have


allowed Bong Joon-ho to do this but Netflix did so and I think it is


giving us freedom and money in a way that Hollywood has rarely done since


the great days of early Martin Scorcese and Woody Allen, Bonnie and


Clyde. This is a golden time. And anyway, this film celebrates direct


action? Yes. We have an animal liberation front in this film but


they are not entirely heroic, they are stupid at times and slapstick.


One character is so determined not to leave our carbon footprint on the


earth but he has given up eating entirely. There are very funny


moments. Yes, so they are not entirely heroic. The bad people in


this film are not entirely bad and the goodies are not entirely good.


Like humans, there are grey areas. Thank you very much.


But before we go, you won't have been able to visit


a great maypole in London unless you were around in 1672.


It was then that the capital's pole was blown away be a storm.


Now a competition is underway to replace it


If anyone is thinking of taking on the challenge -


NEWSREEL: In this festive season, Coronation celebrations are the rage


Here we are at Elstow Green, Bedfordshire, where Phyllis Izzard


drives to her throne to be crowned May Queen while the people


of the village turn out in force to attend this old English pastime


The May Queen of 1935 is crowned by her predecessor from 1934.


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