A BBC Chief admitted Christianity may receive less sensitive treatment than other religions last week, saying the faith is ‘pretty broad-shouldered.’
Director-general of the Corporation, Mark Thompson, suggested this was due to other religions in the UK having a close identity with ethnic minorities.
He added these groups may already feel isolated and satire may extend this.
Mr Thompson said: “They may well regard an attack on their religion as racism by other means.”
He added it was reasonable to consider the consequences of any speech act: “The point is for a Muslim, a picture of the Prophet Muhammad, especially if demeaning, may have the force or the emotional force of a piece of grotesque pornography.”
He also said: “Without question, ‘I complain in the strongest possible terms’, is different from, ‘I complain in the strongest possible terms and I am loading my AK47 as I write’.”
Mr Thompson admitted that raised the stakes, but went on to say religion should not receive the same ‘protection and sensitivity’ in the law as race.
Jerry Springer: the Opera was controversially aired on the BBC in 2005 and resulted in Mr Thompson, himself a practising Catholic, receiving threats and seeing people burning their licence fees outside his office window.
Many Christians campaigned outside the BBC during this time, protesting against scenes in the show that they believed were blasphemous, such as Jesus wearing a nappy.
The BBC received 60,000 complaints – a record at the time.
After this, blasphemy laws were abolished in England and Wales, which had made it illegal to insult Christianity for centuries.
However, the director-general still claims Jerry Springer: the Opera ‘was a serious piece of artistic work’ that did not offend him, although he thought himself particularly sensitive to mockery of religious images.
When asked whether the programme would have been aired if the scenes involved the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, Mr Thompson said the answer was essentially yes.
The comments were made while speaking in a debate at Oxford University.
Dr David Landrum of Evangelical Alliance said Mark Thompson’s admission in the debate was “a deeply co