Talking points for 3 April

Good morning, today a question posed on the Today programme’s Thought for the Day by Professor Mona Siddiqui is “Why can’t Muslims take a joke?” You can listen here (if you try hard enough, and are reading this on Thursday). That was sparked by British comedian Ben Elton saying the BBC is too scared of jokes about Islam. What do you think?

In Zimbabwe, the ruling Zanu-PF party has lost control of parliament but there’s nothing much to talk about that would be all that different from yesterday’s programme. But to get an idea of the mood in Harare, have a read of Farai Sevenso.

Fuchsia’s post yesterday morning sparked some of you to discuss the price of food, and adding further weight to the case for talking about that the World Bank has called on the international community to co-ordinate its efforts in a “new deal” to fight global hunger and malnutrition.

Also going strong on the blog is Ros’s post asking if religious countries hinder their scientific development, and Fuchsia’s about a Nigerian proposal to demand women dress modestly. (She might have to get the media on board – supermodel Gisele is almost everywhere today.)

10 Responses to “Talking points for 3 April”

  1. April 3, 2008 at 09:44

    Hello Ros,

    Asking women to dress modestly is nothing new. During Dr. Banda’s rule of Malawi,
    all women had to wear a dress that was below the knee. However, it was also OK for them to walk around topless. This has nothing to do with religion, but the way they have lived for hundreds of years.

    I am of no real religious persuasion, but certainly feel that it is better for women to dress modestly; and just because we live in a democratic society, doesn’t mean that we should be able to do or say as we please. I feel there should still be a certain amount of restraint and respect when it comes to living with other nationalities with different religious beliefs, but it should also be two sided.

    I was always taught that if I had nothing good to say about a person, then I should say nothing at all.

    Many Thanks.


  2. April 3, 2008 at 11:05

    Hello this is Kate from the World Have Your Say team.

    Following on from the point raised by Peter concerning Ben Elton’s criticism of the BBC, I would like to ask if some topics or events are not suitable fodder for comedians? Humour is obviously subjective and what is offensive to one person may not be to another, but how responsible should comedians feel in trying to avoid causing offence?

    Jokes concerning religion, natural disasters or crimes have provoked controversy in the past, but does that mean we should leave these topics alone? Or, would the avoidance of one topic start us on a road to further censorship?

  3. April 3, 2008 at 11:05

    Hello all,

    Before we head to our meeting a couple of thoughts, aside from any further developments in Zimbabwe. Firstly, the jailing of a prominent human rights activist in China, Hu Jia, for “inciting subversion of state power and the socialist system” raised the question “Has staging the Olympics hardened China’s line on human rights?”. Secondly drawing on this post by Peter, I think the issue of religion and humour in general is an interesting one. But I would broaden it out to “can religion take a joke?”

  4. 4 Ros Atkins
    April 3, 2008 at 11:05

    I’d favour two options. I think the issue of how societies regulate cannabis is fascinating, and it’s top of the news agenda after Gordon Brown said he wants possesion of cannabis to be a more serious offence. I’d ask ‘Should using cannabis be legal?’ Here’s the story:

    If not this, then I think Fuchsia is onto something with her post yesterday about whether women should dress modestly. It would allow us to pull in many different debates around the world. Here’s her post. I’d ask ‘Should women dress modestly?’


  5. April 3, 2008 at 11:15

    Hi It’s Karnie

    The story on China’s Rights activist, Hu Jia, who’s has been convicted of subversion and jailed for three-and-a-half-years, has caught my attention. He’s campaigned for the environment, religious freedom and for the rights of people with HIV and Aids. I’d ask: How should the International community react to this? Should there be a reaction at all?

  6. 6 Ros Atkins
    April 3, 2008 at 11:15

    A listener emails agreeing with Chloe…

    Dear Sir or Madam

    Thanks for your reply

    I send this article — BBC is too scared to allow jokes about Islam, says Ben Elton
    — to three programs worldtoday@bbc.co.uk;

    Thank you.

  7. 7 Ros Atkins
    April 3, 2008 at 11:16

    Here’s an email from Rob…

    Hi Ros,

    If there is one subject to be discussed it would be the movie Fitna, made by dutch politician Geert Wilders.

    It is astonishing to see that the reaction of the Muslim population in Holland is quite mild in comparison to the reaction in Indonesia and other big Muslim countries. Even the Taliban has threatened with retaliation.

    Same goes for the drawings made in Denmark, Muslim here in Holland tend to not care or no riots were seen. Of course some demonstration but not worth the news.

    Let see if you can come up with something to make a debate worthy.



  8. 8 John in Germany
    April 3, 2008 at 14:31

    Hello Ros.

    All through the years the females have been the attracting, and the males the attracted, so why try and stop it by law?. Our ladies to day are in heavy competition with the press, films, coloured mags, and so on, there is nothing more to be hidden. Ladies in various states of undress are used to sell anything from a condom to a threshing machine, so why make legislation to prevent then doin what comes naturally, Attracting the opposite sex!! whoops sorry, attracting there own sex and the opposite sex according to preference.

    It doesn’t work any more, cover up and it will make the males/females more inquisitive, Its a free world aint it, so let them wear what they want except for religious symbols. And now risking being called a sexist, ther’s nothing like a girl dancing Rock and Roll, with the petty coats swinging, and the french knickers glistening, So What!!! Im getting on, but you know what i mean.

    Sadly some girls do not know when to stop and tease, this can cause trouble, but still no cause for legislation.

    Its laughable some of our leaders have not enough to do-so they legislate about the mini. Oh what a wonderful world.

    Bless all the ladies on planet, however they are dressed.

    John in Germany

  9. 9 John in Germany
    April 3, 2008 at 14:58

    Hello Kate.

    Appeasing a certain religion seems to be part of every day media, not only from the humour point, but a lot of others.

    The Jews put up with, and laughed at a lot of cartoons and Jokes, about them and there way of life…i think of Rabbi Blu i hope i have his name correct. A loveable and funny man.

    Muslim outrage is used to try and mussel the free worlds press, and its media.
    Tolerance practised and known by most religions , allows for a large lee-way, and is accepted by most. Most Muslims only react to such things when the Mufti calls for it. This accounts for the different reaction from various countries, and ways of life.

    Listening to the BEEB i find that Muslim councils tend to be moderate in their thinking and reaction. But youth sadly tends to prefer the radicals, and their violent thinking.

    Our leaders must learn not to give in to radicalism, no matter where it originates, And our media should learn to keep FREE SPEECH printed on their hearts.
    Another theme-maybe.
    My heart goes out to our Chinese friend who is now going to prison for Free Speech. My mind is changed now about China and the Olympics. No sportsman or woman should go to China for the Olympics. The sport is gone-politics are here to stay.

    John in Germany

  10. April 5, 2008 at 23:15

    If you ask me if I want being famous, I have no time for who wants see my power.

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