Thursday, February 16, 2006

No Spooks ban…but maybe some editing

Another day, another Muslim media row. While the storm over the publication of the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed rumbles on and the death toll rises, today The Sun splashes with a story about the BBC scrapping an episode of its excellent 'Spooks' spy drama, in which an Al Qaeda terrorist is gunned down by a Christian fundamentalist.

  While I can't personally see the anything wrong with the storyline – last time I checked Al Qaeda was a terrorist organisation that murders the innocent – you can immediately see the BBC's problem with the plot: it involves Muslims and we're not allowed to say anything bad about them. Or at least that's the way it seems.

There is a precedent for it. In 2003, the corporation faced Muslim complaints over another episode of 'Spooks', which featured an Islamist suicide bomber.

Muslim groups were worried that it encouraged hostile feelings towards Islam. Well not exactly – actual suicide bombers like the ones you get in Israel, Iraq and now London encouraged hostile feelings towards Islam, you know, funnily enough.

The BBC didn't pull that episode, and rightly so, it was a good intelligent piece of primetime drama.

While running inflammatory cartoons in the name of press freedom was ill-advised, although it's difficult to work out exactly how negative that has been because it is almost impossible to see through the fog of manufactured disgust (those cartoons were first published in October and it took months for imams to whip up anti-Western sentiment to its full ugliness), it would be much worse if people avoided exploring legitimate subjects or stories, such as the one featured in the upcoming episode of 'Spooks'. Posted by Picasa

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