Tag Archives: Charlie Hebdo

Ep#52 – Secularist Of The Year – Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo takes this year’s Secularist Of The Year Award. I was at the event in London to bring you some exclusive content. We’ll hear President of The National Secular Society (@NatSecSoc), Terry Sanderson, tell us why there can be only one winner this year.  We’ll be hearing Cartoonist Martin Rowson’s speech as he accepts the award on Charlie Hebdo’s behalf. #JeSuisCharlie

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Ep#42 – Aliyah Saleem – Islamic Boarding School #ExMuslim

Aliyah Saleem (@Ali_Jones89) dropped in on The #GSPodcast this weekend. Aliyah is a campaigner for One Law For All and talks to us about her experience in an Islamic boarding school in the U.K and her eventual expulsion from it. We also discuss the Trojan Horse school takeover plot, multiculturalism, Charlie Hebdo and why it’s necessary to define oneself as an ExMuslim. Also, Religion: What’s it doing? #KnockItOff.

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Sky News Has a Panic Attack Over Charlie Hebdo Cartoon


Much to the chagrin of sensible adults everywhere, a lot has been made in recent days over whether or not news networks should broadcast images of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons which depict Islam’s Prophet, Muhammad.

In the wake of the appalling terror attacks in France, it was discovered that the official BBC editorial guidelines on this opted for Sharia compliance by affirming “The prophet Mohammed must not be represented in any shape or form.” This gained a lot of negative attention – which resulted in the guidelines being replaced with some vague nonsense about obtaining senior authorisation instead. This had the whiff of hoping to maintain the previous policy whilst allowing it to go unstated. .

It was clear this issue was causing a certain level of discomfort to our journalists.  The BBC’s own Evan Davis for instance, was seen sheepishly treating us to a brief flash of the image as though he were being forced to share a log of his internet browsing history.

I did wonder though; what would happen were someone to catch a live broadcast unawares with the image? Well, thanks to the commendable efforts of French Journalist Caroline Fourest, we need wonder no more.  And it’s extraordinary:

It truly is something to behold. The reaction could barely have been different had the guest started masturbating whilst throwing Nazi salutes.

You could see the camera begin to retreat as soon as the operator had realised what was coming.  The live link to the guest was abandoned and the flustered presenter informed us that Sky had taken the decision not to show the cartoon and apologised for any ‘offense’ caused.

There we have it.  An apology for any ‘offense’ – as though this is what any of this is really about.  We know, as well as they know that this wasn’t done to spare ‘offense’ – it was censored because of fear of reprisals. Well, fair enough you might say – but at least let’s be honest about it.

The Western media is now so afraid to show a cartoon that it will apply self-censorship in order to comply with Islamic blasphemy laws.

What Sky and others fail to realise however; by not showing the imagery and ‘sharing the risk’, they isolate small publications like Charlie Hebdo – effectively painting a bull’s-eye on their back for extremists to take aim at. And make no mistake – they are always looking for something to take aim at, whether you are doing your best to avoid ‘offense’ or not.

The period after these horrific attacks were without doubt one of the most important tests our news media have ever faced.  They have failed this test miserably. We should remember that the next time they begin back-slapping during whatever self-congratulatory press awards ceremony comes along.

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Ep#41 – Ex-Muslims of North America #ExMuslim

Muhammad Syed (@motheatheist) and Sarah Haider (@SarahTheHaider) of The Ex-Muslims Of North America (@ExMuslimsOfNa) join me on this week’s #GSPodcast.  We discuss the wonderful work they are doing in providing a support network for people leaving the Islamic faith.  They tell us about their own ‘apostasy’ and explain the issues surrounding the depiction of Muhammad in the wake of the horrific Charlie Hebdo attacks.  We also discuss anti-Muslim bigotry, ‘Islamophobia’, gender segregation and freedom of expression.  Please show them some support.

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BBC Guidelines on Depicting Muhammad

BBC_GatesIn the wake of the appalling Islamist terror attacks (still currently unfolding at the time of writing) in France this week over apparent cartoon based satire of Muhammad – one deeply obscene question is doing the rounds yet again; ‘Should news channels show the cartoons in question?’.

The fact that this question is even asked, and indeed that most news channels will not show the cartoons integral to their reporting proves we’ve already lost our freedom of expression in this area.  It’s gone.

I was appalled to learn this week that depicting Islam’s prophet on the BBC is actually prohibited as per their own stated editorial guidelines:

“The prophet Mohammed must not be represented in any shape or form.”

Full of bluster, indignation & aspirations of petitioning – I was half way through a ranty blog post on the topic when the BBC pulled the guidelines in question from their website and announced they were making revisions:

They’ve spared you my unlettered ramblings at least, but I do wonder at which point was prohibiting depictions of Muhammad considered ‘in date’ or acceptable?  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve reported on their refusal to promote freedom of expression over the ‘hurt feelings’ of the godly.

I await the revised guidelines with anticipation1. When will a mainstream news channel take a brave stance on this?  Or even an honest one?  Let’s no longer pretend we are concerned about upsetting the sensibilities of the religious – we’re scared we will be killed.  And for good reason.  Only when you admit the problem can you even hope to combat it.

As Ayaan Hirsi Ali has said, now is the time to ‘spread the risk’.

UPDATE: 09/01/15

The updated guidelines are in.  The relevant section reads:

Any content dealing with matters of religion and likely to cause offence to those with religious views and beliefs must be editorially justified as judged against generally accepted standards and must be referred to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.

To me, this seems like a long-winded way of refusing to clarify the actual issue at hand whilst keeping the previous position alive – but unstated.  I can’t help but think this has simply been an exercise in reducing the BBC’s embarrassment at having their cowardice and self censorship exposed in plain black & white for all to see.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

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