BBC struggles with press freedom in Charlie Hebdo aftermath


BBC’s own guidelines on the use of religious icons in any of their content restricts the use of any iconography or graphics that may be interpreted as the Prophet Mohammed, while not having this limitation on any other religion.

The BBC has clarified its guidelines on the depiction of Mohammed, god’s last prophet according to Islamic theology.

The old guidelines were tweeted out by the BBC Question Time Twitter feed after they were read out loud on the show by host David Dimbleby last Thursday (January 8).

The guidelines read: “Due care and consideration must be made regarding the use of religious symbols in images which may cause offence.

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

That page was available at the time it was tweeted, but has since been removed from the web and the BBC has issued a clarification

“This guidance is old, out of date and does not reflect the BBC’s long-standing position that programme makers have freedom to exercise their editorial judgement with the Editorial Policy team available to provide advice around sensitive issues on a case-by-case basis,” the statement read.

“The guidance is currently being revised.”

It is fair to say that the BBC is at sixes and sevens between showing solidarity with journalism in general, freedom of the press, and not inviting armed conflict towards any of its staff or affiliates.

It will be interesting to see what the revised ‘guidelines’ will say.

One thing is for sure:  if free speech can get you killed, and therefore you are scared to exercise it, you are not living in a free society.

When reporting, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.  What you can guarantee is that you will upset some of the people most of the time.

We should be free to do so without the invisible threat of violence preventing us from speaking what is on our mind.

It’s nearly impossible to see a way out of this without some people taking a step back.  Of course there is no need to constantly and deliberately upset Muslims, just like there is no need to do so to any other group, individual or religion.    But the point remains that we should be free to do so if we wish.

The appropriate response is a non-violent one.   The people of Islam that take up arms to shoot us, or behead us, or capture us and keep us hostage don’t agree.

There really is no ground for compromise there.  Either we stop depicting Mumhammed, or they stop killing people for doing so.   Both stances are huge compromises to the people concerned.

The only clear solution is that there are parts of the world where Muslims have created their own societies that run according to their own rules.   Perhaps Muslims who can not live in a western democracy without being compelled to act violently against their neighbours should consider moving to countries where people see things the way they do.

Governments must review their immigration policies when it comes to Muslims joining a secular largely non-Islamic society.  Europe has clearly shown what can happen.  Let’s not allow this to develop here.


– BBC, via Throng

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.