At the tail end of last year there was an incident where students at the London School of Economics (LSE) were asked (forced even?) to cover up their T shirts during a freshers fair because they depicted images from the Jesus and Mo cartoon. Apparently the images could be construed as offensive and radical Muslims have been known to react violently when images of their prophet are publicly displayed (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jan/04/danish-cartoonist-axe-attack).
The incident at the LSE made national headlines and the LSE apologised to the students concerned (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/20/lse-university-apology-students-atheism-tshirt-religion-jesus-muhammad). That wasn’t the end of it though, the ripples continued when Muslim Maajid Nawaz tweeted a Jesus and Mo cartoon stating that it didn’t offend him (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jan/28/maajid-nawaz-muslim-lib-dem-candidate-cartoon). He appeared on the BBC show The Big Questions, where he reiterated his comments and reinforced his position that he is defending his religion from the loud radicals. The show is not available on the BBC site, but is on his own site (http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/in-the-media/maajid-nawaz-on-the-big-questions-should-human-rights-outweigh-religious-rights/).
It is at this point that the press show their yellow colours. BBC News and Channel 4 News each showed clips from the show, which featured wearers of the same T shirts. Both organisations blurred out the Mo image and claimed they were doing it out of sensitivity and desire to not offend. Each framed their actions as though they were doing an honourable thing. When I heard that explanation, my mind immediately went back to when the BBC received a bucket load of complaints about the Jerry Springer opera (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4154071.stm). Back then the BBC did not back down and insisted they had a right to air the show as it was a cultural commentary. I was a Christian then and despite not seeing it, I argued against it because I held the view that the show intentionally meant to offend Christians. I did not go so far as to be one of the thousands who complained officially, but I did think there was an argument to be had. So far as I am aware, no Christians went out and killed anyone over it, or publicly threatened to, a detail which marks the event as different to that of Muslims and the publishing of the Mohammad image.
Oh how times have changed.
I suspect that if the Jerry Springer Opera were to be happening now, the BBC would still go ahead because what is really going on here is that death threats and murder has actually made some organisations to become cautious about what they publish and have by default allowed the bullies and the scoundrels to get their way. The problem with this is that it gives the message that this is a good method of getting your own way and will only encourage similar action again.
What bothers me more is that it is often reported that displaying the image of Mohammad is contrary to Islamic law, well the last time I checked, this country was not answerable to Islamic law. What is happening here is that bullies and radicals are forcing their own laws into a foreign culture through threat and violence, while also using the same tactics in their own land to force visitors to abide by their own existing laws. This is an imbalance and one that needs to be resisted and the BBC and Channel 4 should be ashamed of themselves for being so cowardly.
The creator of Jesus and Mo has a good retort to the recent events (http://www.jesusandmo.net/2014/01/29/black/).
I also like what the Richard Dawkins Foundation has to say on the matter (http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2014/2/4/what-is-wrong-with-channel-4-s-censorship-of-jesus-and-mo)
For those who which to buy a Jesus and Mo T shirt here: http://www.cafepress.com/jmoshop