Archive for May, 2006

Angry Hindus close exhibition

Pickled Politics reports that the London-based Asia House gallery has been forced by Hindu groups to close down an exhibition by artist MF Husain.

The exhibition included paintings of nude Hindu goddesses, which provoked the ire of the Hindu Human Rights Group and the Hindu Forum of Britain – the group previously known for the upstink they kicked over “sacrilegious” Xmas postage stamps.

PP quotes IBN live:

An official at Asia House, London, said the decision was taken because of threats to the paintings. The move followed demonstrations against the exhibition by several Hindu groups in Britain.
A local advocate Rajkumar Pande had filed a petition on March 3 alleging that an ‘objectionable’ painting had hurt the sentiments of Indians.

Censorship envy strikes again.

UDATE: Sunny reports that two MF Husain paintings were actually destroyed before the gallery closed the exhibition because of threats.

Madonna crosses Xtians again

Madonna’s latest tour, “Confessions”, kicked off in LA last night. It included a controversial set piece in which the ageing songstress appeared nailed to a glittery crucifix.

As we all know, Christians own exclusive rights to the icon of the cross, and to the representation of crucifixion as a method of execution. So it’s hardly surprising that she has incurred the wrath of both the Church of England and the Evangelical Alliance.

A C of E spokesman asked:

Is Madonna prepared to take on everything else that goes with wearing a crown of thorns?

What, like omnipotence and permanent residence in paradise? I daresay she might be prepared to take that on.

David Muir of the Evangelical Alliance took up the old, confused refrain:

It is downright offensive. Madonna’s use of Christian imagery is an abuse and it is dangerous.

The Christian reaction to this sort of thing tends to be tempered but if the same thing was done with the imagery and iconography of other faiths the reaction would be very different.

Typically, he did not explain the reasoning behind this statement. Because he didn’t know what it was. He just thought it was a vaguely infuriating state of affairs.

(From The Daily Mail

God wins Eurovision 2006

Finland’s entry for this year’s Eurovision ran away with it. Lordi (The Lord) is a heavy metal band heavily influenced by Kiss. Their winning song was called “Hard Rock Hallelujah”.

The Church in Finland has been in a bit of a tizzy since the band were selected to represent the country. Father Mitro Repo of Helsinki described their name as “sacrilege”.

Lord have mercy on us Finnish people now,

the BBC quotes him as saying. And that’s before they won.

Could this be The End for the Finnish?

Beyer thinks Big Brother “has got boring”

Reuters UK reports on the start of the latest series of Big Brother. Mediawatch-UK is inaccurately described as “a group which campaigns for better standards on television”, and John Beyer is quoted as saying

It has all got so boring

Which implies that used to find it quite interesting.

It is likely to be abrasive, with a whole lot of obscene language. I think it has had its day.

Once again suggesting that, for Mr Beyer, Big Brother did indeed once have a “day”. Much like the Black and White Minstrel Show.

Religions unite against DVC

Following the lead of their Indian counterparts (see below), Muslim leaders in Russia and Azerbaijan have joined the chorus calling for The Da Vinci Code to be banned.

The head of the Islamic party of Azerbaijan said:

Lack of respect for the feelings of believers, whether they are Muslims, Christians or representatives of other world religions, is inadmissable.

In Russia, the Central Spiritual Directorate of Muslims branded the film:

an highly sophisticated form of spiritual genocide against the peoples of Russia.

With a Jewish and Christian alliance in America calling for a boycott as well, perhaps it is time to get all these would-be censors together under a single umbrella group. A suggested name: the Alliance of the Religious, Self-important and Excessively Sensitive.

Indian government delays Da Vinci release

(From the BBC) India’s information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi has arranged a special screening of The Da Vinci Code before the government decides whether or not to ban it.

According to reports, they had received “more than 200 complaints”. 200 complaints? In a country the size of India?

Meanwhile Joseph Diaz, the head of the Catholic Secular Forum in Mumbai, has started his “hunger strike until death”.

Good luck, Joseph!

UPDATE: The Indian government has cleared the film for release, but it must carry a disclaimer saying that it is a work of fiction.

Beyer pines for the good old days

Providing his customary rent-a-quote for the Telegraph, “Massah” John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK expressed his disappointment that only 3 out of every 100 films submitted to the British Board of Film Classification were subject to cuts.

It is a free for all. Films should be classified by a body which is not linked to the industry.

The Obscene Publications Act, which is supposed to underpin the system of classification, hasn’t worked for years and the people in charge of the board believe they can proceed without fear of recourse.

Beyer is on record as advocating that viewers of pornography should be locked up in prison.

It beggars belief that the BBFC are permitting adults to make informed decisions about what they choose to watch,

he did not add.

Indian Muslims join Da Vinci fray

According to Reuters, Mumbai Catholics have acquired more powerful allies in their campaign to get The Da Vinci Code banned. An organisation of Islamic clerics has joined with them in condemning the film as “blasphemous”.

Maulana Mansoor Ali Khan, general secretary of the All-India Sunni Jamiyat-ul-Ulema:

The Holy Koran recognises Jesus as a prophet. What the book says is an insult to both Christians and Muslims

Oh, great.

Muslims in India will help their Christian brothers protest this attack on our common religious belief.

Fast unto death? Unfortunately not. Syed Noori, president of Mumbai-based Raza Academy, a Muslim cultural organisation that often organises protests on issues concerning Islam said:

If the government doesn’t do anything, we will try our own ways of stopping the film from being shown. We are prepared for violent protests in India if needed.

Way to go, Syed. Demand that respect!

Why the Mo-toons are bad – a reminder

Nick Cohen in the Observer mentions this month’s “World Press Freedom Day” (which he calls “a wretched failure”), where Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain reminded everyone why exactly the Danish cartoons of Mohammed were unacceptable.

She denounced

…the tendency in the West to say “We insult our own, so we can insult yours, too.” Well no. We do have a problem with that and we demand respect

There you go. “Respect”. Demanded.

Cohen also reminds us of the Council of Europe hearings to be held next week on whether freedom of expression should exclude the right to offend religions. He isn’t too optimistic that the forces of oppression will lose out.

UPDATE: MWW reader Stuart makes a thought-provoking comment:

Thought folk might like to know that at about the same time the High Commissioner was expressing that view, the Chairman of the Pakistan Senate was over here (Isle of Man) for a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference and he thanked locals for their response to the Pakistan earthquake. From my sums, we gave an average of £3 per islander to appeals, and I guess that would be about average around the UK. If the High Commissioner wants to talk about ‘respect’ to Muslims we don’t know, that seems a better guide than whether or not Brits want a few naff cartoons banned.

Welsh AM on freedom of speech

In the wake of the Archbishop of Wales call to ban JS:TO comes a spirited defence of freedom of speech from Lib Dem Assembly Member for North Wales, Eleanor Burnham.

In her Statement of Opinion to the Assembly, she said:

Freedom of expression has come under enormous pressure in the last two years with ever increasing calls for greater censorship. It is a difficult time for all artists, especially those who seek to tackle controversial and difficult subjects. Artists, performers and playwrights have an important role in exploring difficult issues, even if they offend people in doing so. This right must be protected. It is all too easy to want to silence the views that offend us. But we must remember that the same freedom that allows someone to offend us also allows us to argue back.