Thursday 20 March 2014

'Free Speech' and censorship - the debate goes on (outside the mosque)

Do you remember that BBC Three discussion programme, held in a mosque, which featured a short film of a Muslim drag queen asking the question, "When will it be right to be Muslim and gay?", before the presenter turned to the audience and said
We were going to debate that question today, but after speaking to the Mosque, they have expressed deep concerns with having that discussion we'll move on to our next question.
before the programme did, indeed, move on to another question without inviting either the audience or the panel to comment on this act of censorship? 

If you do remember that you'll also doubtless remember that the programme was called 'Free Speech'.

Many people's flabbers were gasted at that.

We did a post about it at the time. At the end of that post, an update was added giving the BBC's version of events denying that is was censorship and citing security causes as being the main reason for the change (the mosque had received threats, they said):
"The Birmingham Mosque had offered the venue as a location for an episode. When asked if there were any issues for discussion that would be off limits, no concerns were raised. Neither the production company nor the BBC would have chosen a venue that unduly limits topics for discussion.
“As with all Free Speech programmes, parts of the programme are promoted on radio, online and on social media platforms ahead of transmission to raise awareness of a topics potentially in the programme.
"Content from a pre-recorded segment, which covered the topic of homosexuality and Islam, was played ahead of transmission on Radio 1 and on local radio. The Mosque received threats which gave us cause for concern to the security of their community.
“Discussions took place within two hours of the programme being broadcast live as to the best way to proceed bearing in mind the security of the mosque and respect for their concerns over offending their community. As a result the production company, together with the BBC and the Mosque, made a considered decision to postpone the debate of the topic until March 25th but agreed to show the pre-recorded segment. 
“This was a decision taken responsibly, with a great deal of thought, consideration and respect and not in any way about censorship of an issue. We were transparent with the audience about the decision.
Well, that's not quite the version of events being given by the head of the mosque in question (Birmingham Central Mosque) (h/t Lucy Lips at Harry's Place). 

Here's what the Huffington Post says: 
The chairman of one of Europe's largest mosques has launched a tirade against those who criticised him for banning a BBC3 discussion about gay Muslims at his mosque, comparing homosexuality to being "a compulsive murderer, gambler, or paedophile".
But Dr Mohammad Naseem, the mosque's long-time chairman, defended his decision to bar the discussion in a letter sent to HuffPost UK.
"There are people with homosexual tendency in Muslim countries but they respect the law and control their desire as others do.
"Human beings do have weaknesses and tendencies which are not socially acceptable and so they try to have a control over them and do not give in.
"A compulsive murderer, gambler, paedophile etc. could present the same logic and ask for accommodation by the society. Are we going to accept on the basis of freedom of action?"
It was apparent that Lahore, the Muslim drag queen featured in the programme, "does not know his religion and has not got much links with it," Naseem said.
"He would have, otherwise, known that it is prohibited in Islam. If he wants to persue [sic] his inclination then he is free to leave Islam and follow any ideology that suits him," Naseem continued.
BBC had misled the mosque, and that they had only been informed two hours before the programme that it intended to discuss homosexuality, Naseem alleged.
So, we're back to where we started, with the BBC censoring a discussion on a BBC programme because of Muslim anti-gay bigotry sensibilities on a programme called, of all things, 'Free Speech'.

Beyond parody.


  1. Off-topic, I know, but have you ever noticed how excruciatingly pompous the BBC College of Journalism (CoJo) is, how utterly sanctimonious, how cringingly self-congratulatory? I can no longer access the site now that I've moved back to Australia, but I remember well that there is a segment on there in which fledgling journalists are supposed to learn the skill of good and cogent writing from Al Beeb's finest. From time to time I used to leave examples on that thread of passages in the BBC News reports that would disgrace a fourth-former (er - make that fourth-former at one of the now defunct grammar schools). They didn't make it onto the thread (funny, that) but here's an example of shoddiness from a current BBC News report. Try as we might, neither I nor a friend can make sense of it:
    "It was alleged that following a patient giving birth in November 2012, a doctor at the Whittington Hospital repaired female genital mutilation that had previously been performed on the woman, allegedly carrying out female genital mutilation himself."
    And there are plenty more where that came from!

    1. Yes, confusing to impenetrable.
      This subject was discussed periodically throughout the day. One has to assume that the doctor in question ‘undid’ the GM to facilitate the birth, and promptly re-did it (sewed her up?) once the baby was out. Delicate subject, but no excuse for such a gross lack of clarity.

  2. I suppose when the BBC has deemed itself to be "THE" National agency for "social cohesion"...and not here today/gone tomorrow like elected politicians...not neutral like a Sir Humphrys might be...then its ignoring of topics such as FGM (or Harman/Dromey and PIE) is their call, and we`re all to shut up or just trust in their goodness.
    As did Saviles victims, as did Leonard Sachs and family, as did Balen.
    No-the BBC think that they alone can determine what the political arm of the British People( New Labour Plus 2015) is to be-and they`ll say it and show it.
    One grasping omnishambles of white privilege and guilt-ridden arts graduates slumming it in Bayswater until they get a contract for spouting the New Creed as demanded of the BBC and its political descendents..Kinnocks, Prescotts, Blairs, Straws and Harmans...add their spawn to the shallow pond that succours Benns and Dimblebys for the minute.


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