Thursday, 15 March 2012

One rule for Jesus, another for Muhammad?

The Guardian have posted a blog on their website looking at the issue of equality of discrimination. It begins by quoting part of an interview with BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, when he was questioned on whether or not the BBC show would broadcast programmes offensive to Muslims. This, after showing the Jerry Singer Musical where Jesus is depicted as a petulant overgrown baby in a nappy - sparking outrage from many Christians.  The question was put to him that the BBC wouldn't dream of broadcasting something comparably satirical about the Prophet Muhammad. He replied: "I think essentially the answer to that question is yes."

Watch the full interview here:

One suggestion made was this was down to some Muslims' potential threats of violence, rather than just angry letters. Thompson replied: "Well clearly it's a very notable move in the game … 'I complain in the strongest possible terms', is different from 'I complain in the strongest possible terms and I'm loading my AK47 as I write'."

However, there was greater depth to Thompson's response too. He said that, "Christianity is the 'broad-shouldered', established religion of the majority in Britain, Islam is that of vulnerable ethnic minorities, 'who may already feel in other ways isolated, prejudiced against, and where they may well regard an attack on their religion as racism by other means'. This perhaps gives a better suggestion as to why the BBC does treat Christians differently to Muslims. He then goes on to point out that also, people need to understand the emotional force of "what blasphemy feels like to someone who is a realist in their religious belief". It is clear that religious beliefs cannot simply be compared with rational, propositional statements.

The blogger poses two questions:

Is it true that Muslims still constitute a vulnerable, disadvantaged minority in the UK?
And if so, is this the right way in which to display special sensitivity?

His conclusion is this:

Difficult though it is, we must never abandon the quest for equal liberty under law. Everyone is entitled to what the philosopher Ronald Dworkin calls "equal respect and concern". That does not mean treating everyone exactly the same in every circumstance. But whenever you hear anyone (including me or you) arguing for unequal treatment of any kind, shine the searchlight and take a closer look. The same evangelical Christian who complains of unequal treatment from the BBC will vociferously oppose gay marriage. The same European liberal who argues passionately that newspapers should be free to publish cartoons of Muhammad will defend laws criminalising genocide denial. Double standards are the warning signals of a free society.

Read full article here:

How do you think we should display religious equality in our community? Is the BBC right to allow satirical shows about Christianity but not Islam? Why do you think this is the case?

1 comment:

  1. Q: "How do you think we should display religious equality in our community?

    A: Treat Christians and Muslims with the same kind of respect and consideration that is given to the Jewish community. It really is that simple.