Comedy group forced to cut prophet sketch
A decision by Bath Student Union and university chaplains to block a Mohammed comedy sketch has been condemned by Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society.
This is another example of Islamic blasphemy codes being normalised. The decision taken assumes that Muslim students would have been offended, and takes that as a sufficient reason to curtail the students’ artistic expression.
The lame reason given for the scrapping of the the student comedy show sketch was that it caused “great offence.”
Bath Impact, the student newspaper, reports that union officials said the decision had been taken to maintain the “inclusivity” of Bath university and to “avoid complaints”.
However, it has emerged that chaplains were involved in the Union’s decision, and that they had denounced the scene as “graphic” and offensive.
The Comedy Writing, Improvisation and Performance Society (CWIPS) created a performance called “The Bible According to CWIPS”. But just four hours before the opening night a union official who attended a rehearsal told the society that a sketch depicting the prophet Mohammed, called “Cooking With Christ”, had to be cut from the show.
One member of the Comedy Society said that the union “couldn’t give more of an explanation” for the decision. The Society learned that the University Chaplaincy had become involved, and organisers were then told that chaplains had read the scene and had “pronounced that [it was] too graphic.”
The Chaplaincy is said to have described the cut sketch as “extreme”, but the organisers insisted that they had:
Worked very hard in order to make sure [the] material was enjoyable and pleasant for people of all faiths and background.
The Comedy Society was forced to abide by the Union’s ruling, though organisers complained that while the Union was led by elected officers, the Chaplaincy should have had no authority within the Union.
Despite advising that the sketch featuring Mohammed be cut, the chaplaincy commented that:
Freedom of speech is important and should be respected.
In addition to the cut scene depicting Mohammed, the show featured material on the Bible and Richard Dawkins.
It is also very troubling to see ‘inclusivity’ being used as a spurious reason to shut down parts of the performance. It is telling that only material related to the Islamic Prophet Mohammed was cut. There is an atmosphere of hysteria around satirising or criticising Islam, particularly since the Charlie Hebdo attack. We must start reclaiming ground from those who would silence free expression and satire.
• The picture used to illustrate this report is of Pakistani Muslims complaining about a “blasphemous” Mo movie.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn