Lord Singh said that the BBC had tried to stop the script being broadcast last November “because it might offend Muslims” — even though it contained no criticism of Islam…. reports Kaliph Anaz
Lord Singh of Wimbledon, 87, quits Thought for the Day after 35 years in protest at the BBC saying that some of his talks “might offend Muslims,” The Times reported on its front page.
Lord Indarjit Singh has accused the corporation of “prejudice and intolerance” after it tried to prevent him from broadcasting an item commemorating an executed Sikh guru Tegh Bahadur who had opposed the forced conversion of Hindus to Islam under Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century.
Lord Singh said that the BBC had tried to stop the script being broadcast last November “because it might offend Muslims” — even though it contained no criticism of Islam. “It was like saying to a Christian that he or she should not talk about Easter for fear of giving offence to the Jews,” he told The Times.
He also hit out at the BBC’s ‘misplaced sense of political correctness’ that forces contributors to only say non-controversial statements that no listener could complain about.
Lord Singh of Wimbledon, 87, was let go after he threatened to quit instead of having his religious teachings insulted. He was not informed of anyone listening being offended by his broadcast.
‘The aim of Thought for the Day has changed from giving an ethical input to social and political issues to the recital of religious platitudes and the avoidance of controversy with success measured by the absence of complaints
After leaving, Commission for Racial Equality advisor Lord Singh complained about his treatment but a review by BBC director of radio James Purnell rejected his complaint.
Lord Singh said: ‘The need for sensitivity in talking about religious, political or social issues have now been taken to absurd proportions with telephone insistence on trivial textual changes right up to going into the studio, making it difficult to say anything worthwhile.
‘The aim of Thought for the Day has changed from giving an ethical input to social and political issues to the recital of religious platitudes and the avoidance of controversy with success measured by the absence of complaints.’
He said he believed Sikhism founder Guru Nanak and even Jesus Christ would not be ‘allowed near Thought for the Day’ if they were alive today.
A BBC spokesperson in a statement said: ‘Thought for the Day is a live, topical segment and it is not unusual for editorial changes to be made so that it reflects the biggest news stories of the day. We disagree with Lord Singh and don’t recognise his characterisation of Thought for the Day.’
Lord Singh is always in the forefront to defend religious freedom and condemns persecution of religious minorities across the world.
During a debate at House of Lord over the persecution of religious minorities, he said: Mobs who kill and maim fellow citizens do not do so after a detailed study of the actual beliefs and teachings of those they wish to harm, but because of a latent ingrained fear of difference that is all too easily exploited by unscrupulous religious and political leaders. There seems to be a law of human behaviour which I will call Indarjit’s law: when two or more people find enough in common to call themselves “us”, they will immediately look around for a “them” to look down on to strengthen their sense of common identity. We see this in a less harmful form in the behaviour of football fans. In the 1930s, Hitler exploited latent fear and envy against the Jewish minority to blame it for all the country’s economic and social ills. It carried him to political power.
“Religions, which bear the brunt of the suffering, also have the key to reducing conflict, if, instead of focusing on supposed superiority and difference, they emphasise common aspirations and beliefs. This year is the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak. In a message highly relevant to today’s times, he taught that the one God of us all was not in the least bit interested in our different religious labels but in what we do to work for a more harmonious and peaceful life. He taught that our different religions were simply different paths up a mountain towards an understanding of God. The paths are not mutually exclusive but frequently merge to highlight common imperatives that can defeat bigotry and fanaticism. That is the direction in which we have to move for greater peace and harmony.”