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Wednesday, 30 January 2013
BBC accused of 'extraordinary' censorship after cutting honour-killing references from radio drama for fear of offending Muslims
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The BBC has been accused of 'extraordinary' censorship by a leading playwright after she had dialogue cut from her hard-hitting drama because it could have offended Muslims. Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, whose 2004 production Behzti was pulled from a Birmingham theatre after it sparked Sikh protests, has accused the Corporation of tampering with her work because it involved an honour killing.

Ms Bhatti's drama The Heart of Darkness will be played on Radio 4 this Friday as part of its popular DCI Stone series, but she says the BBC has caused an 'awful situation' which has led to a 'betrayal' of her work. At the centre of her story is the honour killing of a 16-year-old Asian girl, and DCI Stone is told by his bosses to treat the case 'sensitively' because she is Muslim.

Although they have admitted removing dialogue from its afternoon drama, the BBC claims they did it to avoid 'potentially misrepresenting majority British Muslim attitudes to honour killing'.

Describing the play's final line, Ms Bhatti told The Independent: 'At the end, a character says: "There is so much pressure in our community, to look right and to behave right." The compliance department came back and said, "we don’t want to suggest the entire Muslim community condones honour killings".

'It's a crucial part of that story. I was very disappointed given my previous experience of censorship. If you take out the line, the whole thing changes, it's a betrayal of the character and the truth of the unfolding story.

'It’s an extraordinary and awful situation. They said the lines were offensive but they absolutely were not. We live in a fear-ridden culture.'

The BBC said today the radio drama to be played on Friday was treated no differently than any other.

'This is a hard-hitting drama about the realities of honour killing in Britain. A single line in the script could be taken to infer that the pressure and motivation to commit such a crime in a family comes from the wider Muslim community, potentially misrepresenting majority British Muslim attitudes to honour killing,' a Radio 4 spokesman said.

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Posted on 01/30/2013 12:35 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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