Archive for May, 2006

Essex Springer protest no-show

Looks like the Essex branch of the Stop Springer campaign failed to muster up a sufficient amount of outrage to turn up to the opening night at the Cliffs Pavilion, aka “Satan’s stronghold”.

Dawkins’ doc complaints dismissed

Ofcom received 23 complaints (PDF download) about Richard Dawkins’ two-part documentary The Root of All Evil?. The complainants considered the programme:

a) showed a negative portrayal of religious beliefs and called religious faith “a virus”, and that this was both offensive and harmful;

b) contained inflammatory comments, slanderous remarks and atheist
propaganda, which resulted in possible incitement to religious hatred;

c) allowed an “ill-informed” presenter to treat religion with “ridicule and scorn”,
and misrepresented religious views, which – along with disingenuous editing –
offered no opportunity for debate. As there was no balancing programme on
the same service, this resulted in an approach to the religious matters being
explored that was not responsible;

d) allowed the presenter to air bigoted, intolerant, biased and anti-religious

e) attempted to promote religious (i.e. atheist) views by stealth;

f) generally contravened Ofcom’s rules on due impartiality and due accuracy;

g) focused on the behaviour and beliefs of “religious extremists”, with little
reference to moderate/mainstream religious belief and practice, and that
therefore this was misleading;

Ofcom ruled that the programme was a carefully-worded polemic which provided opportunities for counter-argument, did not incite hatred, reflected a range of religious views, and fairly pre-warned viewers as to its likely nature and tone.

Not in breach. Of course.

A good summary of the programme can be read at PSOM, and video interviews of various religious loonies are here.

Ekklesia tells Canterbury to “turn the other cheek”

Christian think-tank Ekklesia have called on Canterbury Cathedral to withdraw its calls to censor a computer game. The game, called War on Terror, features the Cathedral as a backddrop to one of its battle scenes.

A letter to the Canterbury Dean and Chapter says:

Our thought is that the situation can still be turned round to positive effect. Would it be too daring to suggest that now might be a good time for St Michael’s chapel to be re-branded the ‘peacemakers’ chapel’, using the words of Jesus, instead of the ‘warriors’ chapel’ – which has rather less Gospel warrant?

Perhaps it would also be an appropriate site for a small exhibition on non-violence and conflict transformation. This would fit well with the Cathedral’s daily practice of ringing the HMS Canterbury bell in memory of those in the armed services who died in the last two world wars – an idea which could also be extended to remember all victims of war.

Ekklesia is a progressive Christian think-tank which has spoken out in for free expression in the past, and is also in favour of abolishing the blasphemy law.

South Asia scholars back Husain

42 scholars of South Asia have published a letter in the Guardian calling for the reinstatement of the MF Husain exhibition. They strongly condemn the Hindu Forum of Britain and Hindu Human Rights.

The Hindu Forum of Britain and Hindu Human Rights accuse Asia House of not “consulting” with them before putting on the exhibition. Consultation should not be a requirement for artistic expression.
These are unelected groups, not known for consulting democratically with the community before putting pressure on others in the name of Hinduism. Their actions would not be sanctioned by most Hindus. Hindu traditions have an extensive history of diverse representations of deities, include nude and erotic images of gods and goddesses. Hinduism has never possessed a concept of censorship of the kind that these authoritarian groups wish to promote. We urge Asia House to reopen this exhibition – by doing so it will honour the rich and diverse traditions of expression arising from Hinduism and from India.

All 42 signatories can be seen at Awaaz – South Asia Watch, “a UK-based secular network of individuals and organisations committed to monitoring and combating religious hatred in South Asia and in the UK”.

Matt Bors on the Mo Toons…


Jerry Springer: The Opera, MF Husein, Behzti, The Da Vinci Code, etc, etc…

Sikh-ing offence

Pickled Politics reports that a group of Sikhs are now trying to grab some of the offended-religionist limelight.

There is a multi-faith institution in Wolverhampton called Ek Niwas. Apparently, in this den of iniquity, parkash pooja of Hindu gods take place right next to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The Akal Takht has issued a Hukamnama forbidding this, so it is clearly unacceptable. But that is not all – bhangra and giddha are also done in the presence of Guru Ji. No wonder they are up in arms!

Looks like it could be another job for the S-Team.

Exposed: raging Da Vinci nun is a fake

MWW reported last August about a protest at Lincoln Cathedral by a nun and a few hangers-on. They were angry about the Da Vinci Code being filmed there, after the dean had accepted a “donation” of £100,000 to the church funds.

Now the BBC reveals that the nun in question, “Sister” Mary Michael, isn’t really a nun after all. She just likes to dress as one. A spokesman for the Nottingham diocese said:

Her connection with the Carmelites ended a long time ago. She has never been professed by our bishops and she doesn’t belong to any recognised order.

She has no official connection with any order or any of the parishes. She’s a one-off, a maverick.

The sham sister responded:

The bishop knows all about me, he knows why I wear my habit and so on. It is unusual, I can say no more. I can’t even understand it myself but I’ve never done anything underhand – I can’t with this personality

She also explained why she continues to protest at the DVC:

I am standing up for what every Catholic should believe in the true body, blood, soul and divinity of our lord.

She probably can’t help it, with that personality.

Lord Desai condemns Hindu Human Rights Group

In a letter to the Guardian today Lord Desai, the Labour peer and academic, attacks the Hindu Human Rights Group believed to be behind the closure of the MF Husain exhibition at Asia House:

Hindu goddesses can be seen in a variety of poses which many may find erotic in the temples of Khajuraho and Tirupati … and many others. Hindu society and religion are remarkably relaxed and tolerant about sexual practices of human beings as well as of their gods and goddesses.

What we are witnessing is the import into the U.K. of a fanatical political group, which, under the guise of Hindu human rights, is practising censorship for which there is no sanction in Hindu religion. It is the duty of all citizens to stop this evil before it spreads too far into our body politic. The objection to Husain is not the so-called obscenity of his paintings. It is because he is a Muslim and hence, the Hindu fundamentalist groups deny his artistic freedom to take Hindu gods and goddesses as his theme.

Meanwhile, HHR have cancelled their planned demo this Saturday, and

would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those individuals and organisations that have supported our campaign and helped to let the voice of the Hindu community be heard. We will continue to monitor the situation and respond to any further developments.

They say are still waiting for an apology to the Hindu community.

Asia House is keeping very quiet, as is the rest of the UK media.

The vandals threw paint on two of the paintings, both of which depicted Hindu goddesses. (The Mother India picture which accompanies the original article on MWW was not part of the exhibition, although it did cause quite a bit of controversy in its time)

Asians Against Censorship

Sunny Hundal, the campaigning Asian journalist and editor of Pickled Politics, has come up with an interesting idea. Prompted by the closing down of the MF Husain exhibition at Asia House, mentioned below, he writes:

I’m thinking that it may be worthwhile exploring the option of holding a protest (or some sort of action) in favour of Asia House showing MF Husain’s paintings. Sooner or later we will have to take a stand. We cannot let the likes of the Hindu Forum, Muslim Council of Britain, MAC, Sikh Federation etc issue press releases about the “grave insult” that actions of others have caused millions of people, when we know it is one man in his office.

Asians Against Censorship (AACE)? This needs discussion, which is why I’m posting it here. Sooner or later we need a coalition of people, from the Asian community, who are willing to stand up against censorship. Otherwise they will carry on competing with each other in the victimhood stakes.

Go there and watch the birth of a movement.

MWW bids them God-speed.

Angry Christians call for video game ban

The BBC reports that officials at Canterbury Cathedral are calling for a computer game to be banned because it shows the building as a backdrop to a battle.

Koch Media’s War On Terror allows players to battle terrorists with a “world strike force”, and features locations throughout the world including the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg Gate as well as Canterbury Cathedral.

A spokesman for the cathedral, Christopher Robinson, said:

Having the cathedral as aesthetic wallpaper for violence and hatred isn’t appropriate […]

The whole point of the church is to preach God’s love to the world and for humans to love each other.

Koch Media have refused to withdraw the game.