UK: Protest at BBC’s ‘Islamophobic joke’
Muslim campaigners are urging a widespread protest at the BBC over a Have I Got News for You (HINGFY) joke they say was Islamophobic.
Irish comedienne Sharon Horgan hosted the show, which rounds up the weekly news in a satirical manner on June 3.In one of the segments she joked, “The Independent described the Dostoevsky metro station…as the Mecca for suicides. Not to be confused with the Mecca of suicide bombers – which is Mecca.”She later apologised for any offence caused but insisted she was not an Islamophobe.
She tweeted, “I am anti any prejudice of any kind. And particularly the generally lazy media portrayal of Muslims or any blanket negativity towards Islam.“I am Irish for God’s sake. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s Ireland and therefore am all too aware of stereotyping by the general public and media.“But HIGNFY is a political satire show. Its job is to hold a mirror up to most media prejudice. It deals in irony and in that sense it does the opposite of what it’s actually saying.“Any of the comments on here, which are suggesting I am racist or in any way anti-Muslim are a load of nonsense. HIGNFY, like all good satire, plays on prejudices and that’s exactly what we were doing with this joke. Really hope that people understand this and stop threatening me.“But if anyone misunderstood the intention of the joke – for it was a joke – then I apologise for any offence caused.”However, a spokesman of Muslim Public Affairs Committee said: “By making such a comment she is giving the message that the holiest site in Islam is the centre of all terrorism and that Islam is inherently linked with violence.“This offhand comment does nothing except reinforce the message that Islam has something within its fundamental beliefs that makes it a threat to civil society allowing this comment to go unchecked justifies the statement and condones such demonisation, as the comment implicitly implies that all Muslims are terrorists and all terrorists are Muslims.”It urged viewers to email the BBC demanding an apology; echoing an online campaign being propagated by individuals on Islamic forums and via Twitter.
In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesman for the BBC said: “HIGNFY is a long running, topical and satirical news quiz and as such its viewers are familiar with the humour of the show. It tackles current issues in a comedic and challenging way. There was no intention to offend any viewers.” The BBC did not respond to queries on why the divisive joke remained uncensored in the pre-recorded show.