Musn’t upset the Muslims: Channel 4 and BBC’s disgraceful cowardice over Islamism play

CAN we talk about this? is a hit DV8 play that focused on the reluctance of media and political figures to openly discuss the dangers of Islamism and Sharia law.

Hannes Langolf and Christina May in DV8's Can We Talk About This? Photograph: Gergoe Nagy

Hannes Langolf and Christina May in DV8′s Can We Talk About This? Photograph: Gergoe Nagy

It enjoyed a successful run at London’s National Theatre and Sydney Opera House amongst other venues. The play featured speeches and interviews with leading figures from across the political and cultural spectrum, including One Law for All’s Maryam Namazie and Anne Marie Waters.

It explored issues of freedom of speech, censorship and violence, as well as the impact of significant events such as the ‘Rushdie Affair’, the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh, and the Mohammed cartoons.

But Lloyd Newson’s play has proved too hot a potato for Channel 4, which feels that the “current climate” makes the award-winning production unacceptable for British viewers – and Namazie is outraged by what she sees as as “blasphemy law by stealth”.

Similarly the BBC, which had commissioned previous films from Newson, has declined to film the play.

On the One Law for All website yesterday, Namazie said:

This blasphemy-law-by-stealth must be opposed. One Law for All vehemently objects to the climate of censorship and fear when it comes to Islam and calls on supporters of freedom of expression to exert pressure on UK broadcasters to screen this highly successful and relevant play.

We must demand an end to censorship particularly for the many who are suffering under Sharia law and Islamism across the world and facing threats, imprisonment and the death penalty for merely speaking their minds.

She appealed to supporters of freedom of expression to write to the BBC at BBC Audience Services, PO Box 1922, Darlington DL3 0UR and/or Channel 4 at Channel 4 Television Corporation, 124 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2TX and ask for this important production to be screened.

Here are more addresses:

• Channel 4 Chief Executive: DAbraham@Channel4.co.uk

• Channel 4 Chief Creative Officer: JHunt@Channel4.co.uk

• Commissioning Editor, BBC Music & Events: Jan.Younghusband@bbc.co.uk

•BBC Trust: trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk

Can We Talk About This? received rave reviews around the world and won several high profile awards, including “Best Dance or Ballet” (Helpmann Awards, Australia 2012) and dance “Production of the Year” (Germany, 2011/12).