The National Secular Society has criticised a Brent Council in north London for removing an advert featuring a hindu temple. The council took down a poster, which advertised the area as the London Borough of Culture 2020, after complaints from
the Hindu Council UK.
Dipa Das, a councillor in neighbouring Tower Hamlets who is also a representative member of the Hindu Council, complained about the poster on Twitter. Das tweeted to Brent Council's customer services team:
Absolutely disgraceful way of promoting that you are a borough of culture, image of any place of worship on the toilet is totally unacceptable, I urge the council to take immediate action and remove the temple picture from the toilet.
In response the council's team apologised and removed the posters:
We apologise sincerely for this error as we recognise at the locations of some of the JCDecaux advertising sites were not appropriate given the content of this campaign, no offence was intended.
NSS spokesperson Chris Sloggett said the decision was a pathetic surrender to demands for a blasphemy code and a waste of council resources:
Brent Council has given in to an unreasonable religious demand. It has taken the easy way out but in the process it's placed an unreasonable restriction on the freedom to advertise. And it's weakened its own ability, and the ability of other
councils, to stand up for free expression.
Upholding blasphemy codes doesn't create social harmony. It weakens it by encouraging religious groups of all stripes, and others, to insist that their hurt feelings also be recognised. It also wastes public resources.
Councils, the state and wider society need to get much better at telling religious groups to accept the fact that sometimes in a free society they will be offended.
Following an investigation, Ofcom has revoked the broadcast licence held by Ausaf UK Limited for Ausaf TV, a channel which was intended to serve the Pakistani community in the UK, but had not started broadcasting at the time of Ofcom's decision.
In line with our ongoing duty under the Broadcasting Act 1990, Ofcom opened an investigation into the licensee about whether those in control were 'fit and proper' to hold the licence.
After carefully considering all available evidence, including oral representations made by the licensee, our investigation concluded that:
the individual in control of Ausaf UK Limited had close links to the Pakistan and UK editions of the Daily Ausaf newspaper, in which articles were published which we considered amounted to hate speech and incitement to crime/terrorist actions;
the licensee provided misleading or false information about the links between the Daily Ausaf and Ausaf UK Limited during the course of our investigation; and
there is a material risk that the licensee could breach our broadcasting rules; for example, by airing similar content to that published in the Daily Ausaf on Ausaf TV, which would be harmful to viewers if the licensee were permitted to
this brings into question public confidence in the regulatory activity if Ofcom were to remain satisfied that the licensee was fit and proper to broadcast.
In light of these serious findings, we are no longer satisfied that that those in control of Ausaf UK Limited are fit and proper to hold a broadcast licence. We have therefore revoked the licence.
The channel had not started broadcasting, and it will now be prevented from doing so.
An unholy row has flared after a cathedral's decision to screen films which include a graphic sex scene, full female nudity and a Pagan sacrifice.
Some church-goers believe that showing cult horror movie The Wicker Man and the thriller Don't Look Now at Derby Cathedral is inappropriate.
Wardens from other churches have called for the screenings to be scrapped.
However, the Cathedral's Dean said the building was for everybody and it needed to serve a wide range of people in the city. The Dean, the Very Reverend Dr Stephen Hance, said:
The first thing we're trying to do is open the cathedral to new people. It doesn't just belong to the people who go to church; it certainly doesn't belong to me; it doesn't just belong to religious people.
This is Derby's cathedral and it needs to serve the needs of the people of Derby, as wide a range of the people of Derby as we possibly can.
Steve Dunning, a church warden from within the diocese of Derby, said:
I just think it isn't appropriate to show these films in a place of worship that is consecrated and hallowed, and therefore it compromises the spiritual integrity of the cathedral.
The films are part of a season of film screenings called Quad in Residence at Derby Cathedral, which begins on 7 September. Other films include Monty Python's Life of Brian, a religious satire telling the story of a man who is mistaken for Jesus,
and which has itself sparked controversy in the past. Sister Act, in which Whoopi Goldberg's character is forced to join a convent, is also being screened.
Morality campaigners from Christian Concern have whinged at Sainsbury's for placing copies of a popular erotic romance film in full view of children entering the chain's supermarkets.
A few religious customers were absolutely horrified to find Fifty Shades Freed displayed at kids' eye line in store entrances. featuring cardboard display pictures of lead characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the
same clinch as the movie poster.
Helen Burgess of evangelical interest group Christian Concern said she was absolutely horrified when she saw the display. She said:
Most of us who follow the news know that the 18-rated Fifty Shades Trilogy is clearly porn, with all kinds of distasteful, demeaning and actually dangerous sexual activity in it.
The display was right in the entrance, with a big image of the front cover at children's eye level.
I was so shocked that I asked to see the store manager.
I could cry when I think about the assault on children's innocent minds and pure hearts.
A poster for Don Broco's album Technology , seen in February 2018, included an image of a figure in the style of a religious icon, with the face replaced by a snarling dog.
Two complainants, who believed the image to be of the Virgin Mary, objected that the ad would cause serious offence to Christians.
Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
Exterion Media (UK) Ltd did not believe the ad would cause serious or widespread offence to the public, particularly in the context of the product being advertised.
The ASA was concerned by Sony's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA understood that the image in the ad was reminiscent of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, a revered icon of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic Christian faith, although it was not an alteration of a specific image. We acknowledged that some
members of the Christian faith would object to the use of the image in an ad, and in particular the replacement of the face with a snarling dog. However, we considered that it was clear the ad was for an album and that the image was being
presented as artwork in that context. We also considered that the image would not be seen as mocking or derogatory towards the Madonna or Christian faith in general, and there was nothing else within the ad which gave that impression. We
concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Political correctness is supposed to be based on politeness and equality for all, but it doesn't really work out like that. It turns out to be little more than a glorified pecking order system where those who shout loudest, or can drum up the
most aggressive lynch mob, grab the best PC rules and everyone else can go to hell.
But the rules get a little difficult to rationalise and pin down when they run into officialdom. And the UK press censor had the unenviable task of adjudicating on terms used to characterise child abuse grooming gangs in the press.
A complaint was lodged by Sikh, Hindu and Pakistani-Christian groups, concerned about the liberal use of the word 'Asian' in the Sunday Mirror s investigation into child-grooming gangs in Telford. The Sunday Mirror spoke of 'epidemic levels of
child sexual exploitation' and 'that up to 1,000 girls, had been abused by Asian men'.
But the term Asian is far too broad and smears innocent communities, said the complainants. But IPSO rejected their complaint. The regulator ruled that it was not inaccurate to say the men were "mainly Asian". Nor did it give a
significantly misleading impression.
An article from Spiked comments that:
The media's use of Asian to describe grooming gangs not only masks the ethno-religious identity of the perpetrators -- it also throws Sikhs, Hindus, Pakistani-Christians and every other Asian under the bus. Gangs of Indian, Japanese and Korean
men are not rampaging across Britain's towns and cities, sexually abusing underage white girls. The men doing so are predominantly of Pakistani-Muslim heritage.
Of course the IPSO logic has to twist around the PC rule of the highest pecking order, that the word 'muslim' must never be attached to any wrong doing. Surely based on the totally reasonable logic that only a small proportion of muslims are
involved. But why then does IPSO rule that it is OK to use the word 'Asian' when only a small proportion of Asians are involved?
IPSO were on firmer ground when adjudicating on a related complaint. A complaint against The Sunday Times was upheld. IPSO ruled that the paper had published an inaccurate headline when it claimed that Asians make up 80% of child groomers. The
Muslim Council of Britain's Miqdaad Versi called for a correction to clarify that the 80% referred specifically to grooming gangs, not all child groomers.
Catholic Church leaders are to meet the head of BBC Scotland Donalda MacKinnon to discuss their concerns over a digital film about being gay in 2018.
The piece, published on digital content stream The Social , included a clip saying the communion host tastes like cardboard and smells like hate.
Bishop of Paisley John Keenan said that was deeply insulting and offensive.
Ms MacKinnon has agreed to meet the Bishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews, Archbishop Leo Cushley who, along with Bishop Keenan, complained about the film titled Homophobia In 2018 : The Time for Love.
In an official statement, BBC Scotland explained that The Social existed uniquely to give young content creators a platform to express their views about matters that directly impacted on them. It added:
The 'Time for Love' piece is a personal polemic about being gay in 2018 and the experiences outlined in the film are intended to reflect those of the filmmaker.
As a young gay man, raised in the Catholic faith, it is seen though his eyes and told in his voice, and is intended to reflect the challenges and opinions he personally faced while growing up in Scotland.
The BBC appreciates that some of our audiences will find it challenging in its approach to tackling some very difficult themes, but we do believe it important that we should provide platforms such as The Social to allow appropriate space for
artistic freedom of speech.
Radio Ikhlas, 7 September 2017, 15:50
Radio Ikhlas is a community radio station serving the Asian (primarily Pakistani) community and other smaller ethnic communities in the Normanton area of Derby.
Ofcom received a complaint that the above programme included statements that constituted hatred against the Ahmadiyya community. The Ahmadi movement identifies itself as a Muslim movement, which follows the teachings of the Qur'an. However, it is
regarded as heretical by orthodox Islam since they differ on the interpretation of the finality of prophethood. There are Ahmadiyya communities around the world. They face restrictions in many Muslim countries and are described in publicly
available reports as one of the persecuted communities in Pakistan. There have been reports of discrimination and threats against the community in the UK.
With a long and in-depth explanation, Ofcom took the view that the broadcast contained material which amounted to abusive or derogatory treatment of the Ahmadiyya community and their religious beliefs. Ofcom added:
We consider these breaches are very serious and we are putting the Licensee on notice that we will consider these breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
Content relating to Burhan Wani
Prime TV, 6 July 2017, 18:34 onwards
Prime TV is a general entertainment satellite channel aimed at the Pakistani community in the UK and Europe.
Ofcom received a complaint that, during a broadcast of a current affairs programme, a social media campaign was repeatedly promoted to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen1 military leader Burhan Wani. The
complainant expressed concern that the campaign was supporting a terrorist leader and encouraging terrorism in Indian administered Kashmir.
Ofcom again found the broadcaster to be in breach of Ofcom rules but this wasn't considered a breach that would be taken any further. Ofcom said:
Ofcom understands that while some members of the Kashmiri community may revere Burhan Wani, and the terrorist organisation he led, this view is far from universal. Therefore, the fact that some viewers may have perceived Burhan Wani to be a
martyr or that the anniversary of his death was being promoted on various Pakistani media outlets, did not, in our view, justify Express TV broadcasting this content without challenge or other context. Similarly, the fact that this content was
not the Licensee's own production or the fact that Express TV considered there was no clarity so far on the UK Government's view on Burhan Wani did not justify the broadcast of the content in this case. Hizbul Mujahideen, the group of which
Burhan Wani was a member, has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU, India and the US. Therefore, we considered the Licensee could, and should, have been aware of Burhan Wani's controversial status both within Kashmir and
outside. Ofcom is concerned that Express TV broadcast content expressing such strong, unchallenged support for, and glorification of, Burhan Wani and his violent actions as leader of a group which has been designated a terrorist organisation in
various countries. This support was capable, in our view, of causing considerable offence.
The National Secular Society has called Facebook's decision to remove the page of a satirist who mocks Islamist preachers a very poor reflection on its attitude to free expression.
Waleed Wain, a British comedian who goes by the name Veedu Vidz online, makes videos satirising well-known Islamist preachers, Islamic extremism and anti-Muslim bigotry.
In a video published on 23 February Wain said Facebook had removed his page indefinitely. The page was previously banned for one month after offended viewers repeatedly reported the videos.
When the ban was lifted in February, the Veedu Vidz Facebook page shared the video Halal Movie Review: The Lion King . The video parodies Zakir Naik, an Islamist preacher who has been banned in the UK and other countries for promoting
terrorism. Within 24 hours of sharing the video, the Veedu Vidz page was unpublished.
Wain has appealed against Facebook's decision to unpublish his page. On Tuesday Facebook said it had reviewed his appeal and the page could once again be viewed publicly. Wain said:
I did not realise posting videos of Zakir Naik or Dawah Man [another Islamist preacher parodied on Veedu Vidz] could get you banned, especially when they can post their own videos talking about their own beliefs pretty frequently, pretty
And they should be allowed to express their opinions, and that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that, but when I express my opinion on them, I get banned.
The current situation is that while preachers such as Zakir Naik, who support terrorism and the death penalty for LGBT people and apostates, are given a platform on Facebook, those who challenge or mock these views are censored. This is a very
poor reflection on Facebook and its attitudes to liberal values and to free expression.
Radio Dawn is a community radio station broadcasting to the Muslim community in Nottingham.
On 26 December 2016 at 16:00, the Licensee broadcast a series of three Nasheeds. Two of these Nasheeds raised no issues under the Code.
The third Nasheed was in Urdu and recited by a young boy. It was approximately 17 minutes in duration. It began by glorifying the victories on the battlefield of figures from Islamic history. It then went on to suggest that similar violent acts
committed against non-Muslim people would bring honour to Islam.
Further, the Nasheed included a number of pejorative references to non-Muslim people. In particular, non-Muslim people were repeatedly referred to as Kufaar (the Arabic word for disbeliever) and on one occasion, Kaafir I Murdaar (meaning filthy
disbeliever in Urdu).
In Ofcom's decision, published on 7 August 2017 in issue 334 of the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin, Ofcom's Executive found that the Nasheed constituted hate speech and breached Rules 2.3, 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Code.
Ofcom put the Licensee on notice in the Breach Decision that it considered these breaches to be serious, and that it would consider them for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
Ofcom considered whether the Code breaches were serious, deliberate, repeated or reckless so as to warrant the imposition of a sanction on the Licensee in this case. It reached a decision that a sanction was merited in this case since the breach
was serious for the reasons set out in the Decision.
Ofcom's Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £2,000. Ofcom also considers that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.
UK Muslims have reportedly launched a campaign to have Ahmadiyya billboards removed from sites in London, Manchester and Glasgow.
Mainstream, Muslims say that the billboard incites hatred, it is deeply offensive and hurtful to millions of British citizens, but for the Ahmadiyya it is a core belief.
The ASA confirmed that it has received 33 complaints so far about the adverts. A spokesman said people have claimed the billboards are:
Misleading because they believe it is not consistent with the teachings of the Koran. Due to the perceived misrepresentation of Muslim beliefs, complainants also consider the ad offensive on this basis.
On the other hand the Ahmadiyya community believes that the Messiah promised in the Koran has already come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
The ASA says it is assessing the complaints and will make a ruling this week as to whether there are grounds for further investigation. But of course it cannot possibly investigate as an outcome either way would be totally untenable under human
rights law upholding the freedom of religion. Even a neutral ruling saying that the poster does not cause issue with ASA rules would likely to be interpreted as support for one side or the other.