BBC chief Mark Thompson warns of ‘over-cautious’ Islam coverage

Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, tonight warned broadcasters against becoming overly-cautious in their reporting on Islam for fear of causing offence to Muslims. Speaking at Westminster Cathedral Mr Thompson, a practising Catholic, said there was a growing nervousness about discussion about Islam and its relationship to the traditions and values of British and Western society as a whole. He said that the BBC and other major channels have a special responsibility to ensure that debates about faith and society and about any religion should not be foreclosed or censored. In an effort to demonstrate that his remarks were not targeted solely at ensuring that Islam received journalistic scrutiny, Mr Thompson also referring to his decision to broadcast Jerry Springer, The Opera despite an avalanche of complaints from Christians unhappy at the depiction of Jesus in the satire. There is no point having a BBC which isn’t prepared to stand up and be counted; which will do everything it can to mitigate potential religious offence; but which will always be forthright in the defence of freedom of speech and of impartiality, he said. Dan Sabbagh reports.