On air today: Can Muslims take a joke about Islam?

Ben Elton is a comedian and writer and he says the BBC is scared of letting comedians make jokes about Islam for fear of provoking Islamic extremists. The story has been picked up by hundreds of newspapers, blogs and radio stations around the world, and we’ll hear the discussion it’s provoked.

Do you agree an does this apply to other media? If so, why? Is there a good reason to avoid making fun of Islam? Is this a wrong perception that Muslims are more sensitive to jokes about their faith than others? Or are some Muslims right when they argue ‘jokes’ are simply a way to disparage their religion?

161 Responses to “On air today: Can Muslims take a joke about Islam?”

  1. 1 Brett
    April 3, 2008 at 13:03

    Can Muslims take a joke about Islam?
    Ha! NO!

    Is that question a joke in itself?

    The only religion I have seen which can take and make jokes about their religion are that of the Jewish faith. I recently attended a seminar at VCU on Jewish Humor. Hundreds and hundreds of people attended from all walks of the Jewish faith, and of all ages. The seminar was an enlightening one and I was amazed at the Jokes that Jews make about their religion, themselves, and how they allow others to say jokes about them and their faith taking it in stride and appreciating humor in it. Using happiness, irony and humor as a way to deal with persecution that they have suffered for centuries.

    That same humor I have NEVER seen in or about Islam.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. 2 Gretchen Eldrich
    April 3, 2008 at 13:04

    I think recent history shows that at least a fair number of Muslims can’t take a joke about Islam.

    I support the Denmark approach. Death threat? Publish the cartoon again. Seriously. This is the modern world and I certainly support people having faith but there are certain basic levels of civil behavior and it is time that Islam started living up to them.

    Someone cracks a joke about Christianity, or Catholicism, or Judaism, or Baptists, or Mormons, or Buddhists, or Hindus…they don’t take to the streets by the thousands declaring Jihad and issuing Fatwahs. It’s time for either (a)Islam to suck it up and start acting like grownups, or (b)the vast majority of mature Muslims to take the highly visible and incendiary crazies in their midst in hand and police their own.

  3. April 3, 2008 at 13:07

    The question borders on prejudice, of course, in that generalizing about any one religion is inherintly biased.

    Nevertheless radical Islam has infected the world-view of all Muslims terribly. Imagine if Christians had an extreme right wing operating today with the psychopathology of the Inquisition. Imagine if the Jews had a right wing that blew up anti-semitic institutions world-wide.

    In the Christian example I dare say that the religion remains so powerfully entrenched in the rich western countries that the world would not be allowed to react negatively to the religion as a whole, to the degree that we are reacting to Islam in the west. Nevertheless the world-wide image of Christianity would suffer greatly if extremism plagued it the way that radical Islam plagues the Muslims.

    With Judaism the world wide reaction would be FAR worse, for anti-semitism is deeply entrenched in our world, both within Christianity and certainly within Islam.

    The above examples teach us one thing, and one thing only; Tolerance of difference is key. All religions MUST come to terms with the reality that they have no claims on the truth. All religions really need to laugh at themselves as much as possible. I agree that Islam has been so hurt by their extrmists, that many of the good peoples who practice this faith are not a mood to be laughing.

  4. April 3, 2008 at 13:19

    Can Christians take jokes about Christianity? What about Jews and Hindus? What is wrong with not wishing to have fun poked at you, based on your creed or culture?
    I know Christians make jokes about Christianity, which can be looked at as a bad joke anyway, and living in Turkey for many years I know that Muslims can make extremely amusing jokes about Islam.

    I think it is one thing to makes jokes about yourself; my fat friend can makes jokes about fat people and I can make jokes about Scots.
    English people making jokes about Scots doesn’t go down to well in certain circles.

    But for an international multi-cultural media organisation such as the BBC, it is quite right to avoid poking fun at sectors of society as opposed to ‘human nature’ or ‘foibles’, which surely provide more than sufficient material for laughs all round. Mother in Law jokes for instance tend to have a universal appeal (I can’t imagine why?!).

    Further, and most importantly, the US and UK administrations did a lot to adversely affect the image of the Muslin. I think I would be pretty fed up as a Muslin right now, without having jokes made my about my religion.

    And you know, as we have the nukes and they don’t, perhaps it’s time to stop being the bully in the playground.


    (PS, only Germans are allowed to make jokes about Germany. Don’t believe me? Try it!)

  5. 5 Julie P
    April 3, 2008 at 13:19

    Sure media outlets are scared. They are up against a group of people who cannot take a joke, and do not have the first inkling of what free speech is, and these very people have a history of taking serious retribution against anyone who ‘violates’ their code of conduct. It may not be right to censor, but media outlets have a right to be very concerned about their employees safety, and property. Problems may be even further reaching by having retribution taken out on the surrounding community.

  6. 6 VictorK
    April 3, 2008 at 13:27

    There are at least three issues here.

    The first concerns the very British view that humour somehow needs to be offensive to be good. This is nonsense. Anybody who has enjoyed the many excellent US comedy shows on offer will have been struck at how they showcase the wittiest and most humorous writing without ever giving offence in matters of race, religion or sex (the unholy trinity of British comedy). In comparison there are very few British standup comics or comedy shows that can compare to their American counterparts. I don’t mind seeing Islam treated humorously, I just worry that at the hands of British comedians it will be kind of humour that leaves you stone-faced.

    There are undoubtedly funny things to be said that are also offensive: but the Americans have taught us that the funniest things can be said without causing offence at all. A good lesson.

    The second issue is the now familiar Muslim tactic of compelling non-Muslims to treat Islam with respect. It is not our faith but we are to treat it with as much respect as if it were. The whole strategy of ‘offendedness’ is in reality an attempt to intimidate people into a reverent silence about Islam. When serious and sober criticism of Islam (e.g. Fitna) elicits exactly the same response of being offended, we should ask ourselves what’ we’re really dealing with.

    The final, far less interesting issue, is set out in your question, “Is there a good reason to avoid making fun of Islam.” Yes: chances are that a Muslim will otherwise kill you. As if you didn’t know.

    And yes, it – terror of how Muslims will respond to a perceived slight – does apply to other media. As I recall, in this land of liberty not a single British newspaper had the courage to publish the Muhammed cartoons, though plenty of their readers would have been curious to know what it was that was causing Muslims across the world to be ‘offended’ and as a result to riot, destroy property, threaten people with death, murder a nun, and in a few cases to lose their lives to the security forces. Why pick on the BBC for a fault common to the entire media community?

  7. 7 John in Salem
    April 3, 2008 at 13:29

    The inability to take a joke is not limited to any specific religion or even to religion in general and there is nothing you can or should do to satisfy someone who takes life too seriously. It’s their problem and they need to get over it.

  8. April 3, 2008 at 13:45

    It is wrong,absolutely wrong tha BBC,is scared of letting of comedian make jock about islam.

    i have been writing for BBC. and reading its publication found nothing such neterial.

    The fact is that people are invited by proving a subject for opinon or comments the same are published after due moderation.

    AS for as religion is concerned,we must all be carefull in this regard.Respect honoure in this matter is indispensable shouldn’t cross the limits because faith is senstive issue.

    What people are writing or express their opinion by comments BBC is not responsile but i would like to say here in that restriction must be imposed on such comments which creat some distrees for other belief.

  9. 9 Papa Hopkins
    April 3, 2008 at 13:59

    This Have Your Say topic of discussion is a joke. There are other serious topics such as,Is there a correlation between Islam and terrorism? Why do people become terrorists? Is the West dealing with terrorism the way it should? How can we bridge the gap between Islam and other religions? What is wrong with Islam today? Is there anything wrong with Islam? Where does fundamentalism come from?

  10. April 3, 2008 at 14:02

    Appears some moderate-thinking Moslems can tolerate a joke about Islam but in an age where increasingly the gulf between Islam and the West is widening by the day, some extremists have exploited the situation to their own ends to sow seeds of discord and intolerance in the Arab world so much so that a minute issue like naming a Teddy bear ‘Mohamed’ is blown through the roof!

  11. 11 Brett
    April 3, 2008 at 14:07

    Here is a link to the Jewish Humor seminar I spoke of in my above comment:


    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  12. 12 Sajeev
    April 3, 2008 at 14:09

    This is an interesting topic. Since nobody has contributed to this debate today, let me open the score book. Based on my interactions with friends practicing Muslim faith, I could agree with the notion that most Muslims (not all) are sensitive to jokes about Islam. May be because, Islam is not just a religion alone, but a way of life, rituals, politics, economics, jurisprudence, etc. I never heard any jokes about Islam by a Muslim. But they do cracks jokes about Mullas, etc

    However, there are other religions too on earth, which are equally sensitive, eg. Sikhs, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witness cult, as I understand are also extreme sensitive about their religion/faith.

    I think it is correct to say that most media firms are also very sensitive and extra cautious about reporting the matter, especially on Islam. The right explanation based on my experience is that, if a media house cracks/publishes jokes about religions such as Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, etc the media would most probably receive a lawyer notice/court notice for defamation, contempt, etc. If it is in the case of Christians, there can be candle light procession by bishops, nuns and believers and mass prayers at church.

    But, if you ridicule Islam, the immediate response would be a fatwa (religious edict) by a Mulla and there would definitely be wall poster all around the city calling for revenge and physical violence against the INFIDELS. That is to say, the hardcore Islamists very rarely make use of the due process of modern legal system. (Recent example, several violent incidents in 2007 against Taslima Nasren- a Bangladeshi writer who was seeking refuge in India or the long standing fatwa Salman Rushdie, the author of Satanic Verses)

    To make a balanced analysis, i think, this same explanation can also apply in the case of Hindus- but in a lesser degree or as a slow motion activity. A noted Indian artist and cartoonist M.F. Hussein (a Muslim) has been a target for violent protests by Hindu extremists for his cartoon on Hindu Goddesses in the recent past in India. Those who protest argue that Hussein never drew a cartoon on Islam faith!!!.

  13. April 3, 2008 at 14:12

    I love Ben Elton. He’s one of my favorite comedic writers of all time. I can’t imagine reigning in his sense of humor. If Ben feels his style is crimped because of Muslim extremists, then there’s a serious problem — both with fear and pandering in the West, as well as Muslim violence.

  14. 14 mohammed ali
    April 3, 2008 at 14:33

    What! Did hear you say muslims take joke about Islam? I used to be a very devout muslim but now I don’t beleive in any of the white man’s religion. To tell you the truth the muslim are so over protective of their religion to the extent that they will behead a person who says anything bad about Islam. Abosultely no muslim will stand anyone joking the Prophet Muhammad or any of the Caliphs. I firmly beleive that the world has advance and people should have the right of saying what they think about a particular religion or group.

    Mohammed Ali

  15. April 3, 2008 at 14:33

    The word Islam means “submission”, or the total surrender of oneself to God

    An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning “one who submits (to God)”.

    so we can joke all we like about our christian way, or make insults [or jokes ] about jesus christ , or rebut god [=what god cant take a joke?],or lets joke about christian belief , that the son can be the father

    but those who make fun of others belief cant see their own ‘joke’ isnt funny ,[athiests] when it is attacking your own beliefs or allowing your own unbelief to attack anyone with belief.

    lets make jokes about less important things like diabetus, or child molestation or homosexuals [or making gods creations die in wars or by murder by polution or dying of global warming

    lets get to the really funny stuff about gassing people and turning their hair into pilows or their fat into soap
    [yeah its hilarious , semites =arab ,lets see the brave ‘jokers ‘ make jokes about jews see how long the laugh goes on for
    [what cant take a joke?]
    some people take their beliefs seriously
    ok god hates any one dying ,
    and yes god isnt impressed by any one killing any ; only he can give to live ,
    but lets move on and stop trying to give haters [and jokers any more air time]
    or lets widen the joke to all believers [but the cowards love to poke jokes at the muslim nutters [try it on our christian nutters and see the same over reaction
    isnt it time we moved on to important things

  16. 16 Ros Atkins
    April 3, 2008 at 14:36


    Hey my Precious Ros : You and good WHYS listeners take this joke for example : A simple Iraqi man has once said to Saddam : You’re braver than the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed !!!! Saddam shouted : How ??? The poor man replied : Because the Prophet Mohammed used to be afraid of Allah, while you’re not afraid of Allah at all !!!! I guess that anyone can tell whether a particular joke is innocent or offensive. Offense or insultation isn’t acceptable at all. Any joke that mocks directly of the holy personality of the Prophet Mohammed or the holy texts (the holy Quran and the holy statements of the Prophet Mohammed) on purpose of insultation or offence deserves to be strongly condemned. But that doesn’t mean that every inclusion of the Prophet Mohammed and the holy Islamic texts in jokes is to be considered offensive or insulting to Islam by many Muslims. It all depends on the joke itself. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  17. 17 Ros Atkins
    April 3, 2008 at 14:37



  18. 18 Ros Atkins
    April 3, 2008 at 14:38


    I lived my young life in a muslim community popularly called ‘zongo’
    and from my experience the muslims will tolerate no jokes about their religion. They are very sensitive to anything concerning their religion. They will do anything their leader tells them without thinking about it.

  19. 19 Maribeth
    April 3, 2008 at 14:44

    It’s sad that people are so quick to lash out at each other without first understanding the intent behind the statement. People need to start listening to each other adn understanding each others point of opinion. I think that extremists in ALL religions tend to overreact when the topic of their religions are talked about. Please everyone, let’s get the dialogue going and realize that conversation is the key to harmony.

  20. 20 selena
    April 3, 2008 at 14:59

    From what we have seen in the past few years, we can conclude that Muslims cannot take a joke about Islam. But maybe we are getting a distorted picture. Perhaps ordinary Muslims can take a joke; we just never get to hear from them.

    I know some devout Christians who would be shocked if they heard a joke about Jesus. But Christians are not he focus of attention.

  21. April 3, 2008 at 15:13

    Blasphemy is punishable by prison and even death in many Muslim countries. Muslims take their religion as the most sacred and consider it as a correction of previous religions, especially Christianity and Judaism.

    In Morocco, there are plenty of jokes about Islam ranging from those concerning some Muslim priests who are portrayed as greedy and sexual abusers of women and children and ignorant of the religion they preach. There are jokes about Christians converting to Islam as there are jokes about the doomsday/ Judgment Day. There are jokes about the Islamists.

    Last year two Moroccan journalists from Nichane magazine were brought to trial for publishing Moroccan jokes on religion: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6262919.stm for which WHYS dedicate a part of its show (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldhaveyoursay/2007/01/would_you_change_your_skin_col.html )

    Muslims in general are very sensitive about the way they are portrayed in Western media, especially US media which they consider as monopolized by the Jewish lobby. Currently, Holland and Denmark are in the media because of the way Prophet Mohammed and the Koran are portrayed.

    For the Shiites, Caliph Ali and his two sons Hassan and Hussein are scared. I don’t know what can happen to a Sunni if he jokes about them, let alone a non-Muslim.

    Muslims learn from their birth the sacredness of their religion. A mosque is a sacred place that one should get into barefoot. They should invoke Allah in every daily gesture or activity as when eating and starting work. Different parts of the day should be started with one of the five daily prayers, the first starts at dawn and the last two or three hours after sunset. Some spend even one third of the night praying. So it’s no wonder if many Muslims get upset when they hear a joke about their religion, especially from someone who doesn’t hold their faith.

    In private, many Muslims tell dirty jokes as well as jokes about their religion. But it is the suspicion of the intention of the other that makes them angrily responsive. In France there are plenty of jokes about the Arabs, especially the North Africans.

    Refraining from telling jokes about the religion of the others seems impossible. It‘s the behaviour of some Muslims that sparks such jokes or perhaps the differing perceptions the others for whom Muslim beliefs don’t make sense. Muslims can’t stop jokes about them in countries where there is freedom of expression as in their country they can make jokes about Jews and Christians. The best Muslims can do is to ignore jokes about them, take them lightly or invent their own jokes about those who make jokes about them. Responding to joke with a joke can be a good way of making things not always like a joke. It will make everyone think seriously how to make the best jokes.

    Marrakesh, Morocco

  22. 22 Anthony
    April 3, 2008 at 15:17

    I think it’s more that people get upset when you make fun of something they truly believe in. My Atheist friends get VERY mad when I ask them to describe the “origin of the feather”, and the “evolution of the Angler Fish”, and then laugh and poke fun at them when they tell me their own funny version of how they came about. My Republican friends also get VERY mad when I point out that supposedly abortion is wrong, but the murder of at least 80,000 (probably more like twice that) innocent civilian women and children in Iraq is OK.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  23. 23 Sajeev
    April 3, 2008 at 15:29

    Hi Ros and team,

    I am also keen to know during the debate whether media/persons are allowed to crack jokes on Christianity (or even Pope) in Vatican – is there any censorship on this? or the media could make use of the freedom of expression in the fullest sense in Vatican. The purpose is to compare freedom from the perspective of where and how one could exercise it.

  24. 24 John in Salem
    April 3, 2008 at 15:31

    Follow in your book and repeat after me…

    If someone prints something that offends you, don’t read it.
    If someone says something that offends you, don’t listen to it.
    If someone does something on tv that offends you, don’t watch it.
    If someone else is living their lives according to their rules and not yours, mind your own business.

  25. 25 George USA
    April 3, 2008 at 15:32

    Where I come from

    people who riot and kill themselves or others

    over a cartoon

    definately fall into the column

    of poor sense of humor.


    Muslims cannot joke.

  26. April 3, 2008 at 16:00

    The Islamic faith is a joke. It makes about as much sense as all the other theories of the unknown. The Animists in South East Asia were extremely freightened regarding helicopters….they were afraid that the rotors would cut the string that hold up the earth.

    Whether you think some guy who got himself tacked up on a cross in the distant past, or all the other possibilities make any sense to those not actually born into the theory the simple fact is all religeons are simply theories to explain the totally unknown. They are an attempt to calm believers who need some comfort regarding the really freightening aspects of leaving life and entering nothingness.

    All guide books are in fact just written by smart people of their time, but never mention the things like germs, aliens from other planets on and on. If any of these theories were in fact the word of some God ….. all would be written to be universally understood. AKA an English speaking person could read a Koran written in Arabic and it’s truth would ring through clearly.

    Hense mankind has been dubed into believing that the unknown actually is valid according to the Bible, Koran or the ancient writings of the AKA people.


  27. 27 Royston Roberts
    April 3, 2008 at 16:07

    hi ros, it.s very disappointing of you the media houses especially, the bbc to be giving topic prominence to be discussed, who are muslims, or their religion for it not to be subjected to freedom of expression, we are living in a modern, civilized, cosmopolitan and widely democratized society, for God knowing how the present would look like, that’s why he sent all those former prophets in the past, gone were the days society state a strict code or standards of worship, even in the arab world today, majority of those succumbing to traditions or religious fanatism, have never have or enjoyed the opportunity of democracy, or liberalism.we are tired of hearing chaos caused by islamic or muslim fanatics, there should be liberty in the expression an oppinion of issues, as long as it is not aim directly at an individual, race, or ethnicity, if they believe in God, let them allow God to avenge for himself.
    freetown, Sierra Leone

  28. 28 Janet T
    April 3, 2008 at 16:15

    while I wouldn’t rule it out completely- I’ve yet to see any evidence of the ability of Muslims to take a joke about Islam.

  29. 29 VictorK
    April 3, 2008 at 16:21

    Today’s topic brought to mind the following piece by the philosopher and cultural critic Roger Scruton on the social function of laughter


    As he notes, and in fairness to Islam, there are quite a lot of humour-free zones in the world today. There are plenty of humorous women, for example, but no humorous feminists (with the possible exception of Barabara Ehrenreich – but is she really a feminist)? Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dworkin (“Earnest” and “Earnester”) could stand for the bulk of feminists. And in the Anglosphere there is something of a Politically Correct Inquisition that has done its best to banish laughter from all sorts of allegedly unsuitable areas.

    Caricature and satire are two facets of humour that have serious social and political objectives. I think it’s a sign of health when a society can produce satirists like hogarth, Cruikshank, Alexander Pope, Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, Bernard Shaw, H L Mencken and Craig Brown, and satirical publications like Private Eye. The absence of anything like this in the Islamic world is equally symptomatic. Or could some of our Muslim bloggers inform us of the existence of a living satirical tradition in Islamic countries today (no going back to the golden age of Andalusia etc and not counting attacks on Israel, please).

  30. 30 Mary
    April 3, 2008 at 16:24

    As a college student I reveled in the absurd, and gleefully mailed a Far Side postcard to my boyfriend (now husband) that showed a man’s hairy chest in a shower, adorned with a curious decoration: “Pope Soap on a Rope”. To me, a Catholic, it was hysterical to see John Paul II (or as I liked to refer to him: JPII) featured in such a crack up way. Why is it that we as Westerners can publish and buy stuff like this, but the Muslim world cannot? OK, so the pope is not the same as Muhammed, but I somehow doubt we’d see “Mulla soap on a rope”, either. Come on everyone, Lighten Up! Religion is far too serious.

  31. 31 Tawna in Salt Lake
    April 3, 2008 at 16:28

    He who takes offense when none is intended is a fool, he who takes offense when
    offense is intended is a bigger fool.

  32. April 3, 2008 at 16:33

    When persons cannot take a joke about their faith, it is a sign that they are insecure in their religious beliefs.

  33. 33 Matthew Houston
    April 3, 2008 at 16:34

    I can respect the desire not to have one’s religion and God slandered. Where I differ in opinion is the method of response. There seems to be primarily a response of force and coercion. I feel that it would offer a greater service to God to offer well-thought-out responses explaining what damage is done by slandering God. In this way, God would possibly gain more believers, rather than having more people in a state of fear and rejection regarding religion.

  34. 34 Leonet Reid- Jamaica
    April 3, 2008 at 16:55

    Muslim are the last person to run a joke with about their religion. I have many muslim friends and when it comes to making jokes about culture and religion the conversation flat lines. Muslims believe every satirical comment is an arsenal to criticize their belief. Its about that muslims are thin-skin, the dutch can’t add humour to their depiction Muhhamed and even the mere idea of a drawing is an insult in itself to the muslim community. Muslim should be ably to make and take jokes about islam, a good laugh add many years to you heart.

  35. 35 Jonathan
    April 3, 2008 at 17:06

    Freedom of speech is more important than anyone’s hurt feelings. Freedom of speech provides a control mechanism of what is not socially acceptable. If someone feels that your view is non sense, they should be able to voice themselves. People don’t have to agree. Politcal correctness is the last thing the world needs now!!

  36. 36 eric aka eks321
    April 3, 2008 at 17:06

    muslims are completely irrational about their religion. islam, like the mormon “religion,” does not hold up under critical analysis. muslims understand their “religion’s” flaws and are defensive about it. islam preys upon uneducated males by allowing the subjugation of women, the denial of free thought and choice. there is no real brotherly love toward all humanity in islam. what other love based religion, would allow stoning and the death penalty for conversion to real religions? islam as a “religion” (cult) is an absolute disaster for mankind. muslims do not want comedians or anyone to shine the light of truth on their “religion. the truth is that if enough people speak the truth about islam it would be exposed as the hate cult it is!

    eric swenson
    florida, usa

  37. April 3, 2008 at 17:09

    Muslims are completely irrational about their religion. Islam, like the mormon “religion,” does not hold up under critical analysis. Muslims understand. Their “religion’s” flaws and are defensive about it.
    Islam preys upon uneducated males by allowing the subjugation of women, the denial of free thought and choice. There is no real brotherly love toward all humanity in islam. What other love based religion, would allow stoning and the death penalty for conversion to real religions? Islam as a “religion”
    (cult) is an absolute disaster for mankind. Muslims do not want comedians or anyone to shine the light of truth on their “religion. The truth is that if enough people speak the truth about Islam it would be exposed as the hate cult it is!

    Eric Swenson
    Florida, USA

  38. April 3, 2008 at 17:10

    Certainly, we Muslims do sometimes seem to need thicker skins. There is no need, for example, for a woman to try to get a driver’s licence picture taken while she is wearing a face veil. We are validated in demanding our right to wear hijab, but demanding a picture with a face veil is too much. HOWEVER, we Muslims certainly have the right to protest certain offences against us and against our religion.
    The “freedom” to draw and publish cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad as endorsing nuclear assaults on non-Muslims is a clear assault on the dignity of someone whom we consider to be a Prophet of God and whom we deeply respect and hold in reverence on that account. In my view, it is nothing more than hate speech that has every possibility of inciting violence against Muslims. I do not see any reason for it to continue to be allowed to publish.

    Shirley Wilson, Chicago, Illinois, USA

  39. April 3, 2008 at 17:11

    Since when does the BBC bend to the will of hate? Outrageous! Good thing the BBC wasn’t scared of the Nazi’s!

    Chris Bartolini Los Angeles

  40. April 3, 2008 at 17:12

    After a long absence, I am back again, nice hearing you all.

    The Muslims are just very insecure. They know how bad and wicked their religion is. They rather keep it under rap. hearing people making light of the deficiencies make them nervous, they are afraid the truth would be known. The less people talk about their religion, the better the can keep their murderous desire hidden.

    Christians know their deficiencies, and are willing to correct them and improve them. The more you make light of them, the more the religion will grow, not unlike Islam.

    Jacques from Boston

  41. April 3, 2008 at 17:18

    I feel the same way the muslims feel whenever somebody or some people make ridiculouse joke about my religion which is my belief but taken it to the extent of killing and rioting is wrong, they should learn to politely say no to those jokers.

    Jesse from Nigeria

  42. April 3, 2008 at 17:18

    This is an issue of respect and cultural sensitivity. We can’t control how someone will react to what we say (whether we say it in jest or not), but it is always our responsibility to treat everyone, regardless of religion or belief or skin color or nationality, with the human respect we all deserve. Those who say the person being ridiculed has no right to their feelings about it need a lesson in relating constructively with others.

    Aria Jackson
    OPB listener

  43. April 3, 2008 at 17:19

    As long as it’s FUNNY it doesn’t matter who the joke is on, or about. Take yourself, your life, or\and your God too seriously and you’re always going to P.O.’d about something.

    Thank you
    Wil Ferguson
    Traverse city, Michigan, USA

  44. April 3, 2008 at 17:19

    I know that part of me, inside, doesn’t like it when people make jokes about my faith, Catholicism. So I don’t make jokes about other faiths. There’s no point and the jokes usually aren’t that funny.

    Kim in the US

  45. April 3, 2008 at 17:19

    The Raila and Kibaki ministerial deal is insane. The deal rewards personalities for destroying Kenya. What should the refugees & IDPs think of the Goverment? Why should the Doners assist Kenya with such huge Cabinet?

    DDS in Nairobi

  46. April 3, 2008 at 17:20

    Instead of getting upset about religious jokes or poking fun at the invisible man who lives in the sky, , shouldnt the faithful get more outraged about war or poverty or injustice? That is the real joke here.

    KG in BC Canada

  47. April 3, 2008 at 17:21

    With the worlds many serious problems I doubt that Gods priority is is a huge problem.

    Kevin in Trinidad

  48. 48 Tommy C.
    April 3, 2008 at 17:21

    First off, Religion IS heavily based on fear. Hell, fire, sin, etc. Christianity has been at the recieving end of comedians jokes for many years, it sure helped Monty Python. Islam is on the rise and is making more headlines than say Christianity right now and it is fair game for comedians. Enjoy the ride.

  49. April 3, 2008 at 17:22

    AS for Islam: I can respect it, but they, everybody, not just Muslims, keep making Jesus jokes, and the list of Jewish jokes is practically endless, and you don’t me blowing up a mall because somebody told a joke or drew a cartoon, even if it was about my grandfather’s parentage.

    Wil Ferguson
    Fraverse city, michigan, US

  50. April 3, 2008 at 17:25

    I think there are lots of more important matter in our world than the religion of muslim .


  51. 51 Jonathan
    April 3, 2008 at 17:25

    If I dont agree with someones views I dont have to be respectful. Do you agree with the ways women are treated in certain parts of the world.. What If I made a joke about animal sacrifice or female circumcision?
    What about a nazi joke?? Is that ok? All forms of belief should be weighted against toadys moral zeit geist!

  52. 52 Scott Millar
    April 3, 2008 at 17:27

    The sanctimonious generally don’t like to be made fun of or have their beliefs joked about. The degree of militancy is commensurate with their tolerance for humour. People enrobed in a structure of control, don’t want the structure rattled or challenged. Its all they know and they get scared. Their response isn’t moral offense, its priggish, its smug and its a sign of a complete lack of tolerance for others. Its the reason for the violence, the hatred and the desire to destroy everything that isn’t them.

    -Portland, Oregon

  53. April 3, 2008 at 17:28

    I would never make fun of Islam. I think Islam is wonderful and Mohammed was nice man. A very, very, very nice man. The niciest, bestest and all-around good fella. Great guy to have a beer with.

    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

  54. April 3, 2008 at 17:28

    The fact that Sharia Law dictates how people eat, dress or laugh made me believe that Muslims are upset more by the exclusion from humor rather than the jokes being made.

    Ken in Cleveland

  55. April 3, 2008 at 17:32

    I Have a challenge for you, BBC World Have Your Say, Let’s make a cartoon depicting the Jew-Pharisees murdering the Messiah Jesus Christ in a fun-poking spirit of “Can’t You Take a Joke Jews?) so that may find out how tolerant you hypocrite bunch will be!

    If hypocrisy were to walk on two feet it would never take uglier faces than those who preach tolerance and connive with Back-Stabbing !

    Mo Swasey
    Portland, OR

  56. April 3, 2008 at 17:32

    This show today is making me realize how stupid religion is. The world would be much better off without it. All of this controversy, all of these fears of offending people over their belief in a fictional deity is quite stupid if you ask me. There is no such thing as God. Anyone who claims to have spoken with god is either a liar or insane. That so many people are religious is absolutely frightening because it makes you realize how mindless so many people are!


  57. April 3, 2008 at 17:32

    I remember a time when it was more or less forbidden to make critical jokes about the Royal Family. We’ve come a long way since Malcolm Muggeridge got the boot for calling it “a royal soap opera”. Muslims may be shocked and upset about anti-clerical humor now, but give us time.

    Norman, Monterey California

  58. 58 Anthony
    April 3, 2008 at 17:33

    Remember that play about Jesus being gay? Just imagine how many explosions there would have been if it was about a gay Muhammad.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  59. 59 Camilo in Oregon
    April 3, 2008 at 17:33

    The irony is that classical Arabic poetry, from before the time of Muhammad and after, has a rich tradition of comedy, of biting sarcasm, and of savage lampooning. While the Sharia is not exactly a funny business (I guess most “law” isn’t), Arabic and Persian Islamic culture has always known how to laugh, and there’s always been a whole lot of tension in that. Maybe this modern sensitivity comes from fear of being laughed at by outsiders.

  60. April 3, 2008 at 17:36

    It seems to me that one reason, if not the main, for the resentful reactions of Muslims may be they use it, perhaps unconsciously, as a way to show their anger & resentment with the western world for having been meddling in their countries affairs for as long as they remember. Simply put; you mess in your country, look down upon us & we cannot do anything; this is our chance to vent anger & frustration! The missile difference is a prudent move as long as its defence and no threat to others if we could use human rights mind benders psychologists to sit and pow pow with the taliban that we will hear them if they will hear us and thus saying retreat its important human rights pow wow instead of all this imbalance in war fare and innocents being caught in a deadly crossfire we live in a communication landscape why cant reason and reasoners be so used see a?

    Anonymous in Malta

  61. April 3, 2008 at 17:36

    I cannot imagine a cartoon that I would be willing to riot, die, or kill people over. But, aren’t the Muslims just 400 years behind the Catholics in being forced to get over themselves?

    CA USA

  62. April 3, 2008 at 17:37

    My question to your guests is…

    Did Mohammed have a sense of humor? Moslems have rioted and even killed people because they felt they made fun of their religious leader. But would Mohammed have approved of their violent reaction?


    Streetsboro, Ohio

  63. 63 Peter Snell
    April 3, 2008 at 17:38

    I see an enormous degree of hypocisy here. Let’s try and poke fun about the Jews, the Pharisees, the Gloating about the murder of Christ so that we may find out just how much hypocrisy is being traded nowadays!

  64. 64 Kat
    April 3, 2008 at 17:39

    I think that it says a lot for comedians to even be joking about muslim religion because so few people really know much about the religion. The comedy isn’t meant to hurt people, and if it does that is a personal concern. No one leaves a comedy show thinking “man, black people really must be stupid. I’m going to treat them differently.” If anything, the worst the comedians are doing, and especially the controversy about the comics of Muhammed, are making people perk up and question, “well, who is Muhammed? What is muslim religion really about?” I also think that the muslim religion is a little immature, not in the high-school definition, but in youthfulness. They’re too new to the general public eye to handle their newfound criticism well. After a few years, I think they’ll calm down, just as the jokes about the royal family calmed down. Standup comedy is not malicious, and I think that’s the bottom line that is being missed.

  65. April 3, 2008 at 17:40

    Christian Jokes are so common. George Carlin, Bill Maher etc. are all great mockers of religion. Faith is based on belief, not fact. So someone making fun of your religion shouldn’t bother your faith. When we really break down what people believe, we can find so much comedy. Honestly folks, Watch and listen to whatever you can handle and leave the rest alone. Can the world please loosen up a bit. I mean Jesus is the most quoted prophet in the Koran, but I don’t see Muslims making a big deal when JC gets made fun of. Why is the prophet Mohamed, off limits when the prophet Jesus is fair game? This doesn’t make sense but then again neither does religion!

    Eliel From Brooklyn

  66. April 3, 2008 at 17:41

    I think that any Anglican bishop who suggests there is a place for Shariah law in Britain should have his tongue ripped out.

    Will, Berlin

  67. April 3, 2008 at 17:41

    The difference between the Koran compared to all other religious books is the call to arms for those against the faith. Because of this aspect it makes it dangerous to joke against Muslims, and to ask Muslims not to follow their call to arms is to not believe their faith 100%.

    Jeremiah C. Rios

  68. April 3, 2008 at 17:42

    I crack religious jokes with my Muslim friends, all of them just laugh it off and throw back a Chinese racial joke at me, we had a good laugh and that sit no hard feelings.

    Edwin in Singapore

  69. 69 steve
    April 3, 2008 at 17:42

    @ Mo Swasey:

    Are you suggesting Jews will send in death threats to the BBC if that cartoon is made? Why do you think the BBC didn’t post a link of the Fitna video? For fear of death threats. The host of Fitna removed the video due to death threats. There are tons of Jewish jokes, christian jokes, and nobody gets killed over saying them. People DIED over the mohammed cartoons.

  70. April 3, 2008 at 17:43

    Dishing out violence is akin to receiving satire, this goes back to the days of court jesters. Opposing jesters have always attempted to demean the other kingdom. And some who have demeaned their own kingdom would’ve been killed for it. Perhaps that’s the real issue, can Muslims criticize their own and not suffer for it, certainly not in the old days.

    Zak in the US

  71. April 3, 2008 at 17:44

    Have you people ever heard of English Common Law and a secular society? I may say and joke about anything I please.

    James in London

  72. April 3, 2008 at 17:45

    Yes Muslims can take a joke, as long as it’s funny. Demeaning satire riddled with falsehood isn’t funny. Have respect for others when speaking. I find it difficult that people would make fun of something as serious as religion. Sure make fun of your personal
    experiences with Muslim or of being a Muslim, but not of the religion itself. And yes, as a Muslim, I cringe when I hear comedy about Jesus, Moses, Noah and the other revered

    Prophets of Islams.

    Firdaws in Cleveland

  73. 73 Ashley Davies
    April 3, 2008 at 17:45

    There is far too much respect for religion. Atheists throughout the ages have been condemned as heathens, witches and infidels and brutally murdered for not believing in a god for which there is no evidence whatsoever. My personal belief is that religion is stupid and in many, probably most cases, also evil. Why on earth would it not be fair game for ridicule? After what it’s been responsible for it deserves more than a good kicking.

  74. April 3, 2008 at 17:45

    Muslims have got offended by the pictures in one of the papers. But what about those numerous jokes on Christianity and pictures on Jesus Christ that appear from time to time in Muslim countries and that we know nothing about as we Christians never pay much attention to that? If we did, we would have to talk about that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Alexander Ivanov – St.Petersburg, Russia

  75. 75 Angela
    April 3, 2008 at 17:46

    I agree with Brett (Richmond, VA). Proof that Muslims cannot take a joke is the overblown, emotional reaction to the Danish cartoons. When when goes online and looks at those cartoons you discover that they are quite benign, and might make the most devoted bristle a bit. But to take to the streets with rage?? That indicates a deeper problem, maybe something psychological in nature that repressive religions create in the believer. It is not spirituality which would cause someone to get that outraged over something so very minor. Why don’t they go to the streets outraged at female genital mutilation which still continues in many predominantly Muslim countries (at least in Africa this is true)? This is a much more worthy cause to take up, and would show to the world that Islam really cares about women.

    Also, Brett’s comments about Jews being more willing to make fun of themselves is so very true. Remember the cartoon contest in Israel that was a lighthearted reaction to Muslim’s outrage over the Danish cartoons? Jews were asked to make fun of themselves, and the most biting and satirical cartoon would win. Hilarious fun!

  76. April 3, 2008 at 17:46

    I don’t think I HAVE to understand anything. My beliefs are between myself and my God, nothing any comedian says, no matter how derogatory to me or my faith, is going to shake those convictions. If it does, then I probably wasn’t that committed to the Faith in the first place, was I, therefore I shouldn’t be getting pissed, drunk or angry, about any of it. If anything” I should be mad at myself for being such a putz.

    Wil Ferguson
    Traverse city, Michigan, USA

  77. April 3, 2008 at 17:47

    Religion is only as strong as the laughter it can withstand. I’m pretty certain Mohammad and Jesus would be rolling on the floor laughing to find that their followers have hijacked the faith and their names and are missing the point of love, brotherhood and understanding.

    Blaise (Blez)
    Portland Oregon

  78. April 3, 2008 at 17:49

    Great to hear Pieter Dirk Uys, who’ll be familiar with the word “Kafir”. A word handed down to us by Arab traders and Islam meaning “Non-believer” that came to be a universal term of abuse. It’s also ironic that religious apartheid can officially exist today. I understand, as indicated on “Michelin” maps that as a “Kafir” I’m not allowed to visit Mecca or Medina etc.
    This intolerant, “holier than thou” attitude is not God’s plan….is it?


  79. 79 Raudel De La Riva
    April 3, 2008 at 17:50

    Is Muslim this fundamental that this debate needs to occur? There seems to be very little humor in your studio.

  80. April 3, 2008 at 17:50

    Only someone with the maturity level of a 4 year old expects to get through life without being offended. It’s time for people to GROW UP!


  81. 81 Raudel De La Riva
    April 3, 2008 at 17:50

    Is Islam this fundamental that this debate needs to occur? There seems to be very little humor in your studio.

  82. 82 John - Portland
    April 3, 2008 at 17:51

    Good Afternoon,

    I am a Christian (not a Muslim). It doesn’t matter what your religion, to look at the definition of blasphemy. Muslims and Christians should be offended by comedians or ANY other people that make comedy of God. The world is determined to decrease the HOLINESS assigned to God. Stop expecting believers to tolerate the core of their beliefs. I don’t believe people should be killed for blasphemy, but PLEASE stop expecting Christians or Muslims to laugh with you, as you make a joke of one we recognize as the highest form of existence.

  83. 83 Jack Beninble
    April 3, 2008 at 17:51

    Let’s be honest, guys, there are only two reasons why people hesitate to tell jokes about Mohammed – either (1) they’re fundys with no sense of humor, or (2) they’re scared of getting themselves or someone else killed by fundys with no sense of humor.

    As Mark Twain once said: “Sacred cows make the best hamburger”

  84. 84 savane
    April 3, 2008 at 17:51

    Hi. Thanks Brett – I couldn’t think of any group of people who don’t mind being the butt of someone else’s jokes, although I doubt that all Jews are tolerant.

    During the build-up to the ’07 elections in Kenya (things I do these days are always from a pre- and post-election Kenya perspective!), cracking jokes about another tribe was largely tolerated, including in print and on radio media. Post-elections, the wound hasn’t healed – DON’T GO THERE! I’ve also noticed that within ethnic groups, tolerance is thin.

    Can anyone honestly say they don’t mind?

    Nairobi Kenya

  85. April 3, 2008 at 17:51

    Your one Muslim guest seems to think Comedians should be licensed or reviewed by a panel before they tell jokes. Some of the funniest things I’ve heard have been improvisation or spontaneity. Why do we need to politicize humor because a few people don’t get it?

    Ken in Cleveland

  86. 86 Linda
    April 3, 2008 at 17:54

    In a society in which more faiths and cultures coexist, we need to ensure that there are no boundaries between what can be said and what cannot be said. Otherwise we will soon end up unable to say anything at all.

  87. 87 Jafar in California
    April 3, 2008 at 17:55

    More tolerance for criticism and jokes has to come from efforts made inside the Islamic world. That is why it is called ‘pushing the envelope’. picking on Islam (especially on its prophet) by non-Muslims, especially by Christians and Jews will only push Muslim communities into defensive position and make them tense. Therefore, it can be counter productive.

  88. 88 steve
    April 3, 2008 at 17:55


    And yes, as a Muslim, I cringe when I hear comedy about Jesus, Moses, Noah and the other revered

    Prophets of Islams.


    Do you feel offended if someone makes a joke about Harry Potter? He’s a work of fiction too.

  89. April 3, 2008 at 17:56

    Why can’t we have an islamic “Father Ted” ?


  90. April 3, 2008 at 17:57

    A basic principle of most religions is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The question is do Muslims set examples in their own comedy as to how others should treat them? My particular reference is did any Muslims speak out against the well attended exhibition in Iran on Holocaust comedy? Or do Muslims only speak out about comedy directed at them?

    Regards, Ken

  91. 91 Marc Buchalter
    April 3, 2008 at 18:00

    There is a great deal of Muslim Humor published by Idries Shah, a Hashimite of unasailable credentials in Islam.

    Most of the humor is directed at ostensibly “pious” Muslims who do not have a sense of humor about their authority or religion.

    However this humor is respectful of the religion itself while ridiculing the religionist.

  92. April 3, 2008 at 18:01

    Why can’t we have an islamic “Father Ted” ?

  93. April 3, 2008 at 18:01

    A basic principle of most religions is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The question is do Muslims set examples in their own comedy as to how others should treat them? My particular reference is did any Muslims speak out against the well attended exhibition in Iran on Holocaust comedy? Or do Muslims only speak out about comedy directed at them?


    Ken Shostack

  94. April 3, 2008 at 18:02

    The first amendment to the US Constitution says:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    In the US, you don’t even have to be funny – speech is free – jokes, ideological rants, satire, or ignorant, wrongheaded statements – no matter what it is, an American has the right to say it.

    John Stuart Mill said that the freedom of speech had value, no matter what the speech act. If the statement is true, we all benefit from the statement of truth. If the statement is partially true [I would argue most jokes would fall under this category], the truth can be gleaned and we all benefit from that truth. If the statement is false, it requires us to reassert the truth and that is perhaps the most beneficial of all.

    Jokes can be offensive in many ways – sexist jokes, racist jokes, classist jokes, – what makes religion so special? If you get angry at my joke, my first amendment protects your right to express your anger just as much as it does my right to make you angry with my speech.

    Alison in the US

  95. April 3, 2008 at 18:02

    First of all: there is a difference between laughing at and laghing about. The first has a ‘malicious’ intent, the other is meant te make you think. I make this point because one of your guests made a difference between making jokes in the west and making jokes within Islam, suggesting that jokes within Islam were only made when serving a puprose. But every joke serves a purpose: it makes you think, makes you question what you know, so that you can form your own opinion. That is the basis for the freedom of speech.

    Antal Giesbers
    Boomsestraat, NL)

  96. April 3, 2008 at 18:03

    HEY — you show me a guy standing on a stage somewhere, poking jokes at religion, in general, and religions, in specific, and I’ll show you a guy who is NOT out blowing bars and malls and World Trade Towers.

    wil ferguson
    traverse city, michigan, usa

  97. April 3, 2008 at 18:03

    Muslims connot take any joke about islam as, they can even kill an individual who tries to ridicle their belief. This was clearly seen when prophet Mohammad was catooned as a terrorist, muslims all around the world began a lot of violent protests.

    Francis in Sierra Leone

  98. April 3, 2008 at 18:04

    During prophet Muhammad himself there were people who even fought the religion and prophet himself. And he was OK with that.Why should we not be able to accept a mere joke now about Islam.
    Ayub Nuri

    Ayub in the United States

  99. April 3, 2008 at 18:04

    I listened to the conversation this morning about jokes about faith and whether they are appropriate or offensive….I’m wondering if the internet has been a vehicle for unrest in the world…it seems that there are more uncomfortable issues like this in the world since there has been more communication around the world…we seem to have less understanding of each other, rather than better understanding.

    Just a thought,
    San Francisco

  100. April 3, 2008 at 18:05

    In my opinion the Prophet Mohammed is very very much higher than those who make jokes about him. So the correct reaction to them : Ignore them!

    Lubna in Bhagdad

  101. 101 Nate, Portland OR
    April 3, 2008 at 18:05

    on-air some of the muslim commenters have claimed that making fun of somebody else’s mother or father is analagous to making fun of Islam. That has a resonance, as I would be very offended by somebody who does not know and love my mother making fun of her, but this analogy is false in a crucial way: I am not claiming that my mothers values and beliefs are the basis of the correct way of life for ALL people. I do not go out claiming that my views deserve special reverence because they come from my mother. In places where muslims run things non-believers are second-class citizens, de-facto if not de-jure. In places where Muslims do no run things they at the least ask for special laws, and many claim that their host country is evil to the extent that it does not conform with Islamic sharia. I, on the other hand, am not claiming that nobody not born of or sanctioned by my mother is in any way less than me. My immediate family is private to me, and I keep it so. Therefore, I expect you to leave them alone to the extent that they leave you alone. Islam is not at all kept private by Muslims. I’m not claiming they should keep it completely private: that is not the nature of religion. But they should recognize that by bringing Islamic values into the public square and claiming authority for these values because they are Islamic makes Islam a legitimate subject for comedy and even ridicule.

    Don’t want Islam made fun of? Keep Islam out of the public sphere. Think Islam should be in the public sphere or even (heaven forbid) dominate it? Prepare for criticism, some of which will come in comedic form.

  102. April 3, 2008 at 18:06


    Prince Pieray Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  103. April 3, 2008 at 18:13

    Peoples belief should not be joked with especially wn it has to do with ones religion. we should respect God even if we don’t respect God.

    Aaron in Nigeria

  104. April 3, 2008 at 18:18

    Religion is not something that one should joke with as I assume no one will be happy to cartoon his parent?


  105. April 3, 2008 at 18:21

    Of course he does both pc and extremists will not allow humour, why, all dictators fear humour it might put them in their true light. I do not believe in any religion but i m supposed to respect them unquestioningly. I will laugh at what i wish to not what i m told is acceptable, for an example achmed the dead terrorist on youtube. Islam isn’t special it’s just another religion.

    Simon Italy

  106. April 3, 2008 at 18:21

    I’m a Muslim, I hate those who make jokes with my religion &my prophet. I respect every religion regardless of it origin I dont make jokes with any religion, therefore I dont want anyone to make jokes with my religion!

    Idriss in Ghana!

  107. April 3, 2008 at 18:21

    Those who make joke on islam are doing that deliberately to offend muslim so as to make a news item to media.

    Nasreddeen, Abuja Nigeria

  108. April 3, 2008 at 18:22

    The problem with the west is that freedom of speech and rights come before even the creator. Religion is about God and not for joke. we are thought to respect and honor God. He is not for play.

    Forkpah in Guinea

  109. 109 Tiffany
    April 3, 2008 at 18:22

    Humour has the ability to take us all down a peg, and whether it does so cruelly or lightly is up to the comic. It sounds to me like the Muslims calling in do not wish to be taken down a peg. Those of us who are accustomed to being taken down many pegs by various religions over the centuries, due to our gender, gender preference, or ethnicity, have gotten pretty sick of these people running our governments and our lives.

    Women, for example, have been expected to hide their entire persons from public view, pray separately from males, be obedient to their husbands, be stoned to death if they are raped, and be disallowed from joining the ministry or priesthood. I’ve had Hasidim expect me to give them thousands of dollars in a business transaction, yet refuse to shake my hand. I’ve been in a meeting and heard white Christian businessmen discuss how women are the best salesmen in their office; too bad about all that hormone stuff or they could move up to positions of power. I’ve been chased through the streets by a gang of young Arab boys in another country because I was a white girl. My African-American, gay, and lesbian friends have been through much worse. From this perspective, it’s very hard to feel as though the (mostly) male guys in power, in whatever country or practicing whatever religion, should be allowed to censor us from at least discussing — or cracking jokes about — the world we live in.

    People are tortured, oppressed, and killed every day by proponents of various religions. Someone dares make a joke about them or their prophets? Well, boo-freakin’-hoo. How utterly tragic. The day that even the extremists of Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Judaism, etcetera renounce sexism, racism, and heterocentricism is the day I will consider asking comedians to stop cracking jokes about all of us.


    a chick in Oregon, USA

  110. April 3, 2008 at 18:24

    Tonight’s programme was the best I’ve heard in a long time. I wished it could have gone on for hours.
    My conclusion, after hearing all the participants, is, the sooner the world rids itself of dogma and religious intolerance the better. But then, no doubt, something else would take its place.
    Great listening!

    Luther Lewis

  111. April 3, 2008 at 18:24

    Be it a person, country, or religion, respect has to be earned. And if you take part in the symbolic cannibalism of a torcher victim every sunday, or pray to a meteorite five times a day, you really need to be able to laugh at your selves. and be very understanding of being laughed at. When the followers of any religion straps explosives to them selves, to blow up women and children in the name of that religion, and then demand to be respected…. that’s not really earning my respect. I’m just gonna hide in the woods from all of ya,

    Goddess bless, Anonymous

  112. April 3, 2008 at 18:25

    Why does islam always have to be the subject? I don’t agree with jocking about religion whichever it is.

    Mohamed Kena from Nairobi

  113. April 3, 2008 at 18:34

    The writer cum comedian should understand that The BBC is not afraid of broadcasting such topics but the fact of the matter is that The BBC is always concious of the thin boader between the rights of individuals/groups.
    Where does your right as a comedian to joke on someone elses religion end and where does the right of the persons on whos religion a joke was made begins?
    Muslim do not concent to the idea of passing jokes on thier religion for the fear of aspersions or deragatory remarks on prophet Muhammad,any of his caliphs or any aspect of Islam.
    Afterall the Holy Quoran succintly said,”Unto you your religion and unto me my religion.”So why joke on my religion?

  114. April 3, 2008 at 18:37

    Take a look at Jewish humor . God is often the main point of the gag .

    Richard Morris

  115. April 3, 2008 at 18:38

    Why would someone joke about islam if not provoking?

    Diallo from Conakry in GUINEA

  116. April 3, 2008 at 18:38

    Religious leaders should learn to accept criticism.

    Mansour in Liberia.

  117. April 3, 2008 at 18:41

    I feel bad when people joke about my religion..Muslims are justifyed to complain.

    Muthiora in Nairobi

  118. April 3, 2008 at 18:41

    Islam as a religon has many loopholes n untruths.a joker can easily communicate this n weaken the holy image of the faithfuls….

    James in Kenya.

  119. April 3, 2008 at 18:42

    A matured religious person MUST know that jokes viewed as offensive are directed towards God. God fights His battles. He doesn’t need anybody’s help..

    CJ in Nigeria

  120. 120 MarkS
    April 3, 2008 at 18:42

    Was is a joke when the guest who is a judge of a sharia court said he wasn’t judging anyone?

    Why not a grand inquisitor from the catholic congregation for the doctrine of the faith to balance it out?

    Any member of any of the ONE TRUE FAITH(S) will have difficulting seeing anything comical about their world view.

    They miss the irony that god created so many ONE TRUE FAITH(S).

    Mark, Cleveland Ohio USA WCPN

  121. April 3, 2008 at 18:43

    I think that religion is always a touchy subject. People shouldn’t react to ofensive jokes. It’s just a part of life.

    Jason in Lusaka, Zambia

  122. 122 Ana Milena, Colombia
    April 3, 2008 at 18:44

    😦 Jokes are supposed to make people laugh, not to hurt. Jokes about Islam doesn’t make people happy, in the same way jokes about war, famine or illness make you happy.
    Jokes go further than a way of criticism!

  123. April 3, 2008 at 18:44

    It is just unfortunate that our Muslim brothers cant live up to their the contents of their so called peace teachings. To an extent I will say the BBC is scared and have every right to because the Muslims are bent on attacking even their relatives who in one way or the other happen to say a word or two, they find to be ”negative” to their faith. It’s not surprising to me though, because the Holy Bible made it clear that Ishmael’s descendant’s hands will forever be against that of their Isaac-descent brother.

    Daniel, Accra, Ghana.

  124. April 3, 2008 at 18:44

    Christians and muslims tell jokes about each other in S/Leone without anybody being offended.

    Nadia-Sierra Leone

  125. April 3, 2008 at 18:45

    Liberalism over religion is detrimental to it’s doctrine , dogmas and mantra it needs protection.

    Turinawe in Butoguta, UGANDA

  126. April 3, 2008 at 18:45

    As a good muslim I will not joke with other people’s religion, why my religion.

    Nura from Nigeria.

  127. April 3, 2008 at 18:46

    I think it’s up to God to defend Himself when jokes are made about Him.

    Enemali, Nigeria

  128. April 3, 2008 at 18:47

    I am a mormon in Kenya I personally respect all religions and wish all people would also show respect to the tenets that muslims hold dear to them. I think religion should teach and demonstrate tolerance. Christianity and christians demonstrate it even when reviled and abused by moslems so why can’t those who have no religions (pagans) who treat muslims with total disregard.

    Elias Nairobi

  129. April 3, 2008 at 18:52

    Just like I can’t make fun of Jesus, I believe muslims would do the same to Muhamed but we should not be physical n reactng to those who make fun of what we belive in.


  130. April 3, 2008 at 18:52

    If your invited guest thinks being humourous is not following the steps of Mohamed then he should tell us if suicide bombing is.

    Yusuf, Zaria, Nigeria.

  131. April 3, 2008 at 18:54

    Assalamu alaikum. To be precise, we muslims we respect our religion so much thus we cannot tolarate anyhting disrespectful towards Islam.

    Irfan in Uganda

  132. 132 George USA
    April 3, 2008 at 18:55

    Ana Milena, Colombia
    April 3, 2008 at 6:44 pm
    Jokes are supposed to make people laugh, not to hurt.

    Lighten up Ana.

    It just is not that serious.

  133. April 3, 2008 at 18:55

    Allah is the spirit behind Islam and he(Allah) prohibits all kinds of jokes or mockery of Islam.
    Comedians should be aware of this.

    Julius from Kampala, Uganda

  134. April 3, 2008 at 18:55

    If it s wrong to make fun of the Holocaust, why should u do so about Islam. Certain matters are too serious to mock.

    Mohamed Barrie in Freetown

  135. April 3, 2008 at 18:56

    I do not really care much about the said rise in the number of Muslims in the world today as much as I do not care about the number of Catholics. The two are not different from each other except in names. True Christians as less as three see none of the aforementioned two groups increasing in number as a treat so long as the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob (Israel) is with the least.

    Daniel, Accra, Ghana

  136. April 3, 2008 at 18:57

    What would happen if all the religions of this world choose to be offended & to respond to pokes at their faith by killing & burning?W hat would become of us?


  137. April 3, 2008 at 18:59

    Honestly I think there is a psychology in an average muslim that must be changed. Last month president Gadafi made reckless statement in Uganda and no demonstration whatever has been reported consequent upon Gadafi s profane utterances. If this scenario is the other way round am sure chaos would have reign supreme. Please let this fanatics give us a break!

    Yousef in Oluwole in Nigeria

  138. April 3, 2008 at 19:04

    As of now muslims can not take a joke about Islam at all. I think the problem is that they are not used to being joked at. I am pretty sure that when jokes on Christians or Jews first started being said publicly, there would have been plenty of opposition from the church officials too. I think these things take some time to get used to.

  139. 139 Zainab
    April 3, 2008 at 19:06

    salam alicom
    Is it a new method of the war on Islam??? All the other tools (cartoons, offensive movies, banning…etc) have turned upside down. Instead of weakening Islam, these tools strengthened it and helped in its spreading .
    Making fun of Islam (and religion in general)is of course an offended thing .
    Can anyone bear a joke on his father, or mother or any of his dearest ones??? Can anyone bear a joke on a dear dead person ??
    Excuse me all, We are not fanatic, but we love our religion.
    There are limits and we have to respect others feelings.

  140. 140 Xie_Ming
    April 3, 2008 at 19:20

    The more insecure one is, or the more outlandish one’s beliefs, the greater is the need to censor other views.

    As a provocative example: why the extraordinary fuss about homosexuality? Is this because homosexuality is a great problem among young Muslims who cannot achieve heterosexual unions?

    One simple example: near Basra, there were suspicious large meetings in an abondoned factory at night. The police applied night vision techniques and observered great homosexual activities!

    The practice of male rape of Islamic prisoners is well known.

    My take is that homosexuality is a great problem in Islam and thus extraordinary denials and punishments are made.

  141. 141 Umar Abbasi
    April 3, 2008 at 21:40

    Did not get much time to go through the whole long list of articles but I was listening to the programme on the radio on my way back to work and that’s where I learnt about the debate and the source to dig a bit deeper into it’s origin.

    Well being a Muslim all I would say is that to any Muslim and I mean any, in terms of practicing or non practicing such an issue of mocking our religion is truly unacceptable whatever the context may be, that is because we take our faith a serious matter of concern and an absolute truth which can not be messed with period!

    To all those I just need to understand some thing, I can to a certain extent accept all your views on the part where you state that humour should be adopted and accepted in a democratic society but how come all of a sudden over the past few years precisely since the first cartoon publication in Denmark that people have found this topic to become an source of humour, when all the Muslims over the world are suffering a considerable discriminative attitude from the whole world including all religions, I am sure there was plenty to laugh about for the world before this source of humour emerged out of the sorry state of the Muslim world who are pushed in the corner at the moment and even a slightest reaction driven from the sensitivity risen because of their current state is not accepted, but if you are aware of their state, is it morally right for some one to mock some one who is already down? leaving beliefs on the side for a moment?

  142. 142 Brett
    April 3, 2008 at 22:37

    I’m a Muslim, I hate those who make jokes with my religion &my prophet…
    Idriss in Ghana!

    I think that sums it up well!

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  143. 143 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 3, 2008 at 22:37

    Every culture & society have daily life jokes obiously some of them will be religious related too, one joke commonly observed in muslim society that ” Muslims discuss the God for reduction of five times prayer’s & God awarded them fast too”.
    Beside all these daily life realities there is a slite differance between joke & ill manners, every one maynot differanciate.

  144. 144 steve
    April 3, 2008 at 22:41

    Come we know that the sunnis and shiites must have jokes about each other. Anyone care to share them?

  145. 145 John - Portland
    April 3, 2008 at 23:20

    Good Afternoon,

    I am a Christian (not a Muslim). It doesn’t matter what your religion, to look at the definition of blasphemy. Muslims and Christians should be offended by comedians or ANY other people that make comedy of God.

    The world is determined to decrease the HOLINESS assigned to God. Stop expecting believers to obliterate the core of their beliefs. I don’t believe people should be killed for blasphemy, but PLEASE stop expecting Christians or Muslims to laugh with you, as you make a joke of one we recognize as the highest form of existence.

  146. 146 Ana Milena, Colombia
    April 4, 2008 at 00:02

    🙂 Hi, George USA!

    I agree with you, jokes shouldn’t be taken that seriously. We should juat enjoy them!
    But you see, some people don’t accept these stories, so it you know they don’t really like it – and you know Muslims are so jealous about their believes – just forget it.

    There are more wonderful things to tell jokes about! 😉

  147. 147 Will Rhodes
    April 4, 2008 at 01:21

    To the original question – not really, but many Muslims do have a sense of humour.

    In Canada you have ‘Little Mosque on the prairie’, is it insulting?


    The location is Mercy Saskatchewan, a small town in the Canadian prairies. A small but devout community of Muslims has settled there, headed by community leader Yasir Hamoudi, a local building contractor. He is married to Sarah, a Caucasian ex-Christian who has converted to Islam for her husband. Their adult daughter, Rayyan, is a feminist Muslim doctor. The religious leader of the Muslim community – the Imam – is Amaar Rashid, a young, Canadian-born ex-lawyer from Toronto, who came to Mercy to replace Baber Siddiqui, who was deemed too extreme by many in the Mercy Muslim community. The local diner is run by Fatima Dinssa, a Nigerian Muslim who is strict about her religion but more liberal in her cultural values.

    More plot summery

  148. 148 George USA
    April 4, 2008 at 01:28

    Can we all agree-

    Muslims MUST laugh daily for news cameras

    Or we invade their country and take their oil.

    Seems reasonable.

  149. 149 Expat
    April 4, 2008 at 02:59

    Such ignorance. Posing this question or opining on it,without a full understanding of the Quran, is the ultimate in ignorance and arrogance. That advice comes from a Christian heart.

  150. 150 Ritesh
    April 4, 2008 at 03:44

    Why should Muslims take a joke on their religion? Not because majority of the people think that it should be allowed? (And not sure if majority of people throughout the world want it. Here we are hearing voices from mostly western or lets say rich nations which form less than 25% of total world population).

    Most of the people writing here are reacting to some kind of fear, which is understandable knowing that majority of the religious violence has been perpetuated by those who are Muslims. Even I sometimes have that fear about Muslims. Born as a Hindu in India that is the third most populated Muslim country in the world, I have been bombarded by messages that Muslims are dangerous and that it is not in our interest to trust Muslims. The reason being that they are very passionate about their religion! People have this feeling that Muslims want everybody else in the world to convert to Islam and follow the same code of conduct as they do. We are not discussing if these feelings are right to exist or not, but they exist and for some reason.

    I am sometimes thankful that I wasn’t born as a Muslim since the code of conduct for leading life is very stringent but in some cases, it sounds like restrictions rather than guidelines. Being free to practice my religion my way is what I am used to. I cannot see myself with those restrictions. And I admire those who follow it thoroughly, by their own choice. An example of these restrictions is that once you are born a Muslim, you are not allowed to change your religion. But what if somebody doesn’t want to adhere to the strict code of conduct? It is not that poor child’s fault that he/she were born a Muslim. They should have every right to change their religion and be able to still integrate well with the society, without any fears or fatwas.

    But should I let these fears control my behavior, my identity? To have an identity is a very basic need of every human being. It is an intrinsic desire to get associated with other people and feel secured. Religion, caste, geography, language, country clubs, are all channels to feel that connection with others. I very strongly believe that every human being should have the right to practice his religion and that too his way. You can’t just take away somebody’s identity! And you have no right to ask him to change his identity for your sake. Its a contradictory situation of freedom of speech and human rights. Upholding your freedom and rights is actually intruding others’. So please do not force any body to change their behavior for the sake of the rest.

    Coming back to fears that exist among non-Muslims about the Muslims, the responsibility of peaceful coexistence rests with Muslims as much as it rests with others. The “passion” for religion is good but it is good till it is not becoming “obsession” and is not affecting other people’s existence. It is time Muslims come out in the open to share their thinking with the rest of the world and to curb the extremism, the radicalism and to teach their people a lesson of living together amicably with other religions. This responsibility falls more on Muslims because unfortunately most of the terrorists belong to Islam.

  151. 151 janet bratter
    April 4, 2008 at 07:18

    While some of the responders may think that the question of humor is a frivolous one compared to all the really “serious” issues of the day, others among us understand that life is too serious to be taken so seriously.

    How people perceive themselves can be measured in part by how much they can laugh at themselves. From an historical perspective people and institutions (such as organized religions) that don’t have the flexibility to see the underlying humor and absurdity of the human condition are more likely to be less advanced.

    We are living in an age of transition. Fundamentalists of all stripes become more radical as the fallacies of their rigid beliefs are exposed. The more educated and open to freedom of thought and freedom of expression we are, the more we question the archaic core beliefs of all religions and the more tolerant we become of each other. The more tolerant we become the less fearful we will be. And the less fearful we are the more we can peer into the distant reaches of space and time in search of truth.

    Next time you’re in Washington, DC go to the Jefferson Memorial and read what that great Enlightenment thinker advocated. Carved on the marble walls are some of the words and ideas that our humanist society is founded on. Foremost among them is NOT the belief in “freedom OF religion”. It is the belief in “freedom FROM religion” that laid the cornerstone of the modern world. And in spite of its many flaws and imperfections, the modern world is still under construction.

  152. 152 Jester
    April 4, 2008 at 08:11

    That’s it, the world should have only one mindset and culture — that of the Westerners.

  153. 153 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 11:29

    @ Will

    Imagine had Little Mosque on the Prarie had instead a woman who was a muslim who converted to christianity. Would there not be death threats because of that? Notice how a show has to be ONE way and one way only for it to not be “offensive”, but any slight differences, such as a former muslim in that village, and then it would be controversial and muslims would likely start making threats, given how seriously they take “apostasy”??

    Will Canada make a TV show about a former muslim, and even the rest of the show has nothing to do with religion, say it’s an Emergency Room show? You know it simply won’t happen out of fear of the violent threats, like how the BBC provided no links to Fitna. Smart move btw. Why do something you know is going to get violent threats as a response? But how many rights will you give up?

  154. 154 Ros Atkins
    April 4, 2008 at 14:28

    Hi Ros,
    Hi everyone.
    People make fun about my Jesus all the time. I do not worry my head or heart about it cos if necessary, my Jesus is capable of defending himself- yes, he is that strong and no matter who it is, he is capable of dealing with the person by himself.
    I therefore do not understand why people feel the need to always personally defend their God. If their god is that powerful, sometimes he should come out and personally defend himself like my Jesus.

    Accra, Ghana.

  155. April 4, 2008 at 17:21

    Depend on what u mean by muslim , a partiquant or simply someone living in a country wich have islam as an official religion , in this case, i remember the daily jokes fight we use to have in university, (specially the one i attented in fes -morocco )between communists students and engaged muslim ones and i can assure they were a lot , some very funny .
    we all can take jokes its the easy part , but what i believe is dangerous is assuming responsability of making them or repeating them , cuz there is 50% chance that a religion is THA RELIGION => the one we must believe in , and the treat i meant here is not the one from that religion followers(zarkaoui, ben laden..in this case), but from GOD himself .
    Finally i want to make a point here , that just like a book
    u cant judge a religion by its followers cuz humans can do mistakes , but God, never

  156. 156 Daniela
    April 4, 2008 at 19:55

    We all should respect the other peoples religion. If the moslems are allowed to make jokes about christians or jews, why not vice versa? What a reaction to a joke, a film to threaten to kill or even really kill. Certainly the reactions described are unacceptable and criminal and not justifiable by any laws – civil or religious.

  157. 157 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 20:55

    Is it possible that muslims could do something like The Producers? The producers was written by Jews, starring Jews, a play about the Nazis, portraying the nazis as funny, etc. The movie is a comedy. Given how old it is, I’m shocked it was done, you’d think it would be very un PC, they even had a remake done not too long ago, though there are some movies that would never be released today, such as Airplane!. God I miss those days.

  158. 158 Shakhoor Rehman
    April 5, 2008 at 11:51

    I think this is an intractable “problem”. Humour like beauty is a matter of personal taste. There is such a thing as sick humour eg pro-nazi jokes about jews in concentration camps/gas chambers. That sick humour factor is crucial and I have no hesitation in condemning anyone who tells me a sick joke by telling them they have a sick mind. However to use physical violence as a response to a sick joke is crazy and has the opposite effect to what the perpetrator intended. Does anyone seriously doubt that Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna etc etc did not have a sense of humour? Of course they did but it was never at the center of their lives as a kind of infantile obsession. They had bigger fish to fry intellectually speaking.

  159. 159 Nge Valentine
    April 5, 2008 at 20:50

    We should learn to live with people the way they are, we should learn to know ourselves very well in order to avoid problems. If you know that I do not love jokes, don’t joke with me. Allow islam in peace’ do not joke with Islam.

  160. 160 Mustafa
    August 17, 2008 at 22:37

    1. if u guys had been to any muslim country outside of the middle east, you would realize that many muslims make jokes about themselves.
    2. the reason muslims, especially in the middle east, are against so many jokes is because their image is already been hurt by september 11 and they cant tolerate the fact that so many people have a negative view on them.
    3. some people were talking about protests after the danish cartoon. thats because printing pictures of prophets is AGAINST OUR RELIGION. obviously we’re not gonna laugh along with that.
    4. if u want proof with other people, just look at the african american population. it might not be against their religion, but they will be very upset if u call them the ‘n’ word. somebody probably will hit u if u said that to them.

  161. August 17, 2008 at 23:49


    Let make sure that I understand you correctly, and maybe shed some light on “non-Muslim” logic.

    1) Yes most Muslims are not as sensitive and extreme as the “squeaky wheels” that gets the media attention. However, you never see a bear in the news unless it attacks somebody. I would never take a hike in the upcountry without my sidearm. Though every bear I have ever crossed has not attacked me. I can’t know which ones are aggressive, so until I know otherwise I must judge each one with caution. All people see on TV are the angry extremist Muslims. It is a natural reaction in that light to judge each one with caution. This is especially true the more one presents him/ herself in the stereotypical way.

    2) So what you are saying is that Muslims are hurt by being portrayed as malice extremist killers. Furthermore, to counteract that undesirable image, some Muslims see it as logical to call for the death and desecration of non-Muslims? They pray this wish will be granted in “Allah’s Name”. See the logic here is corrupted. We have one side saying the other side are intolerant killers and the other side saying, “no we are not and if you don’t believe us we will kill you.”

    3) People are cruel. If they know something bothers you they are going to do it. It gives them power over you. My guess is that those Danish cartoons looked nothing like the image of your prophet. The difference between a belligerent ideology and a peaceful one is this. In Christianity, if somebody offends you or breaks the laws of “God” you are to forgive them and pray for their forgiveness from God. A belligerent ideology is offended and launches an attack on the person calling for his demise cursing them to Hell. The idea behind the peaceful approach is that it ends the circle of violence.

    4) African Americans call each other the “n” word all the time. It is in their music, culture, and lingo. Even when it is used, or some derogatory statement about them such as “nappy headed ho’s”, is leveled at them, nobody is calling for the death and dismemberment of the person who said it. At worst they are calling for them to loose their jobs. I don’t see Muslims making their own cartoons and calling each other names affectionately.

    All of this doesn’t explain the London teach being tried and convicted for calling a stuffed animal the most common name in the Middle East, “Mohammed”. A teacher, trying to help your children grow, doing something simple and what should have been fun.

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