Stephen Evans of the National Secular Society writes an excellent open letter to Channel 4 about the Black Egg censorship of the image of Mo, sending it via the Huffington Post UK.
We were surprised and extremely disappointed to see that Channel 4 News took the decision to cover up the image of Mohammed when showing the Jesus & Mo cartoon, and we are thus keen to elicit the rationale behind that particular editorial decision.
During the report, it was noted that this decision was taken so as not to cause offence to some viewers; however we would like to point out that by your making this decision you have effectively taken a side in a debate where a Muslim man has suffered violent death threats after he explicitly said he did not find the cartoons offensive. You have taken the side of the reactionaries – the side of people who bully and violently threaten Muslims, such as Mr Nawaz, online.
That’s exactly what they have done, and it’s disgusting. Why would anyone do that? I don’t buy the claim that it’s personal fear. I have to suspect it’s something more like a deeply entrenched assumption that the reactionaries are the more “authentic” Muslims and that therefore it’s more compassionate or progressive or postcolonialist or whatever to side with them instead of with not so “authentic” Muslims like Nawaz. It doesn’t take much thought to perceive how massively insulting that is to Muslims as a group – indeed, how “Islamophobic” it is.
Oh look, Evans says the same thing. I annotated as I went, so I hadn’t read that paragraph yet.
Given that your editorial decision seems to be have been weighted by a concern with offence, we might also note that you ended up with a report that was, in fact, very offensive to many; offensive to those who take seriously and cherish our basic freedom to speak and question, and offensive to many Muslims, whose voices you do not hear because you insist on placating the reactionary voices of people claiming to represent what it is to be an ‘authentic Muslim’.
Exactly. Well of course it’s not an original thought with either of us; we’ve been seeing it for years and years. People have been accusing Salman Rushdie of being “inauthentic” for decades because he’s a cosmopolitan.
Whilst we understand that you covered both sides of the issue through your report and subsequent interview, we were keen to highlight the dangerous precedent you have set by taking the editorial decision to censor the Jesus & Mo cartoon, and the deeply symbolic implications that decision has.
Really. Stop doing that. Stop making terrible decisions like that.