BBC boss says Islam should be treated more sensitively than Christianity

Islam should be treated more sensitively by the media than Christianity, according to the director general of the BBC. Mark Thompson claimed that because Muslims are a religious minority in Britain and also often from ethnic minorities, their faith should be given different coverage to that of more established groups. His comments come after the comedian Ben Elton accused the BBC of being scared of making jokes about Islam, while Hindus have claimed it favours Muslims over other religions. But Mr Thompson, speaking at the annual public theology lecture of the religion think-tank Theos, insisted the state broadcaster would show programmes that criticised Islam if they were of sufficient quality. The director general, whose corporation faced accusations of blasphemy from Christians after it allowed the transmission of the musical Jerry Springer -The Opera, also said his Christian beliefs guided his judgments and disclosed that he had never watched the Monty Python film Life of Brian which satirises the story of Jesus. In his speech last night, Mr Thompson claimed there are now more programmes about religion on BBC television and radio than there have been in recent decades, whereas coverage has declined on ITV. Martin Beckford reports.

BBC is too scared to allow jokes about Islam, says Ben Elton

Comedian Ben Elton has said the BBC is too “scared” to poke fun at Islam. He accused the broadcasting company of allowing programmes to run jokes about Christianity and vicars. However, he claimed bosses were too politically correct and worried about a negative backlash to do the same about imams. In an interview, Mr Elton, 48, who admits he has little religious faith, said: “I think it all starts with people nodding whenever anyone says, ‘As a person of faith… “I believe part of that is due to the genuine fear that the authorities and the community have about provoking the radical elements of Islam.” Gwyneth Rees reports.