The bakery chain Greggs has apologised for offending Christians with a nativity scene advert that replaces Jesus with a
Greggs released the image to promote its £24 advent calendar. Its decision to use an image depicting the three wise men gathering round a crib containing a sausage roll sparked criticism from a few Twitter users and religious groups.
The chief executive of the Freedom Association, a rightwing campaign group, claimed the advert was sick and that the retailer would never dare insult other religions.
The Rev Mark Edwards, of St Matthew's church in Dinnington and St Cuthbert's church in Brunswick, said Greggs had been disrespectful. He told the Chronicle:
It goes beyond just commercialism, it's showing a total disregard and disrespect towards one of the greatest stories ever told, and I think people of all faiths will be offended by this.
Daniel Webster, a spokesperson for the Evangelical Alliance, said:
Putting a sausage roll in the manger of a nativity scene seems to be manufacturing a scandal to sell baked goods and neglecting the real scandal of Christmas. Every year some company creates a Christmas controversy for commercial gain; it seems
to get earlier each year.
The Runnymede Trust is a campaign group seeking racial equality in the UK. It describes
its approach as:
In order to effectively overcome racial inequality in our society, we believe that our democratic dialogue, policy, and practice, should all be based on reliable evidence from rigorous research and thorough analysis.
The group has just issued a report on a range of issues that it gathers together under the title of Islamophobia. It notes that the term has a wide range of meanings but proposes a new and more tightly defined pair of definitions:
Short definition: Islamophobia is anti-Muslim racism.
Longer definition: Islamophobia is any distinction, exclusion, or restriction towards, or preference against, Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or
exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
It is interesting to consider the concept of massively changing the meaning of a word to suit the purposes of a political campaign group. The meaning of words belong to the people that use them, not to the dictates of a political campaign group.
Political correctness tries to impose a lot of 'correct' terms for people, or groups of people. But language has a lot of defences against unnatural imposition. Words can be intonated to add 'quotes' to imply ironic usage. Also out of place words
prompt the listener to ask 'why was that unexpected formal word being used'? What are they getting at?. Perhaps it could mean a telling off for previous wrong speak in the conversation, or perhaps it is a warning that PC sensitive issues
would be best avoided.
And of course if a formally imposed polite word eventually becomes the norm it loses the politeness of formality, and can then be used in a disparaging way, and so we have to start work evolving a new polite word.
So if political correctness demands that the word 'Islamophobia' is used as an accusation of racism, then surely the word will forever be used in quotes to show that people consider this an accusation too far. And of course it is not beyond
the wit of man to dream up a few new words to replace it, maybe even a more positive term meaning reasonable criticism of Islam.
The former Labour deputy leader, Harriet Harman, recounted a joke on live TV as she complained she had been branded humourless for
objecting to offensive and hurtful material.
Now a Jewish advocacy group is demanding an apology for repeating the joke about the Holocaust an Andrew Neil's political chat show, This Week.
But Harman insisted that she recounted the joke in order to show that anti-Semitic humour was no laughing matter. During a debate on the limits of acceptable humour, Harman said:
I've long been accused of being a humourless feminist and I'll give you two examples that I protested about because they were offensive and hurtful. Two jokes. One was 'How do you get 100 Jews into a Mini? One in the driver's seat and 99 in the
ashtray'. That's not funny.
Cutting her short, Neil responded:
We'll stop with that one example.
As he turned to speak to another guest, the former Labour deputy leader attempted to interrupt in order to justify her decision to repeat the joke, only for Neil to tell her: Be quiet.
The broadcaster later explained his handling of the incident on Twitter, saying he was appalled and even a little bit upset by what she said.
And the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Simon Johnson, demanded an apology from Harman for what he termed a staggering error of judgment. I cannot recall being so disappointed in a politician, said Johnson.
Update: Complaints to Ofcom
6th November 2017
Ofcom announced that it received 26 complaints about violence in Gunpowder and inevitably these have been officially consigned to the wastepaper bin, nominally awaiting a first response from the BBC.
The Muslim Council of Britain has claimed that a Channel 4 documentary, in which a white woman is given the appearance of a Pakistani Muslim in order to experience public attitudes and Islamophobia, has caused deep offence. A spokesperson for the
The use of brownface and blackface has a long racist history and it is not surprising that it has caused deep offence amongst some communities. Had we been consulted, we would not have advised this approach.
We do, however, laud the apparent goals of the documentary -- to better understand the reality of Islamophobia, which has become socially accepted across broader society.
In a press release announcing the documentary, Channel 4 said it was an immersive programme that will explore what it's like to be a Muslim in Britain today and challenge some of the assumptions and prejudices that different communities in the UK
have about each other.
Fozia Khan, the documentary's executive producer, said the idea for the film came after the EU referendum and the rise in Islamophobia that followed. We saw divided communities, people living side by side but not mixing. We wanted to do something
bold, a kind of social experiment: to take someone with no exposure to the Muslim community and give her a really authentic experience.
My Week As a Muslim airs on Monday 23 October at 9pm on Channel 4.