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:

• Channel 4 Chief Creative Officer:

• Commissioning Editor, BBC Music & Events:

•BBC Trust:

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).


9 responses to “Musn’t upset the Muslims: Channel 4 and BBC’s disgraceful cowardice over Islamism play”

  1. JohnMWhite says:

    Is there an original source for Channel 4’s quote that they are not willing to air the play because of the ‘current climate’? I’m not even sure what climate they would be referring to. Did the BBC offer reasons for declining? While I would not be shocked if the BBC was too scared (I’d be a bit surprised with Channel 4, though it’s not totally out of the question), I’d like to hear it in their own words.

  2. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    This play should be put on simply for the reason that if we don’t, we are saying that violent actions will get you what you want. Not putting it on, in other words, will encourage more violence than putting it on.

  3. Stephen Mynett says:

    The current climate is nothing more or less than the idiots of PC and cultural relativism. GMR will know a mutual “friend” or ours from the Atheism UK forum – he is happy to allow any atrocity if it is within the “culture of islam” and those who wish to use it.

    This is a challenge that we have to face. What is democratic and what is just can seem to be opposite. However, while we sit back and allow the PC and CR brigade to decide what is allowable we cannot and and will not be able to stop the atrocities of religious law.

  4. ZombieHunter says:

    I expect this sort of behaviour from the BBC. The christian nutters who protested against jerry Springer the opera have been proven right when they bleated “they wouldn’t dare do the same with islamd”, as much as I hate to say it they were right.

    I expected more backbone from channel 4 though.

  5. JohnMWhite says:

    So is that a no to an original source then?

  6. Stonyground says:

    It sort of proves the point that the play is trying to make doesn’t it?

  7. JohnMWhite says:

    It might if it were true, and I’m not accusing anybody of making it up, but sometimes Chinese whispers round the Internet can make something out of nothing. I just find it odd that there’s still no original source for the reactions of the Beeb or Channel 4, either here or on the campaign’s own site.