RIGHT WING PRESS TRY TO STIR RELIGIOUS TENSION OVER BUS ADS

islamic-relief

Several right wing publications have been trying to stir up tensions between Christians and Muslims over a forthcoming ad campaign on the side of buses due to run over Ramadan.

The adverts will run as part of a campaign by the charity Islamic Relief to raise money for victims of the war in Syria. The text in the ads says ‘Subhan Allah (Glory be to God). Gather the rewards of Ramadan. Donate now’. This will feature on buses in five cities, including London, to try and encourage donations during the festival which starts next month.

However, the usual suspect tabloids – never one to miss an opportunity – have seized on the story to try and link it to supposed preferential treatment afforded to Islam and ‘political correctness gone mad’.

Most have contrasted it with a decision to ban an advert for the Lord’s Prayer in cinemas last December. The Daily Mail writes how the decision ‘highlighted the power of political correctness’ in its article. Similar articles ran in the Daily Express, the Sun and on the Breitbart website. All mentioned the Lord’s Prayer example alongside Boris Johnson’s attempts to ban a bus advert against homosexuality put out by a Christian group in 2012.

However, there are different regulations regarding advertising in cinemas and on public transport. The Digital Cinema Media policy prohibits both political and religious advertising (see point 2.1.3 below) whereas Transport for London’s policy prohibits political advertising but not religious ads.

cinema ads policy

So neither Christian nor Muslim groups would be permitted to show an advertisement in a cinema. Both, however, would be allowed to display messages on the side of buses under current rules. Christian messages have been placed on public transport in the past, as can be seen here:

christian bus ad

And here:

Christian-bus-ads-001

The second of those coming in response to an atheist ad campaign, also allowed under current TfL guidelines:

ATHEIST-BUS-2_1217539c

So hardly a case of Islamification or political correctness gone mad. Whatever your views on religious groups being allowed to promote in this way, it’s a level playing field at least. Regarding the move to stop the anti-homosexuality ads, that was done on the grounds of the message being discriminatory, not that it came from a Christian group.

Perhaps the last word should go to Christian Today, who published an article titled SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE OFFENDED BY ‘PRAISE ALLAH’ BUS ADS?

Showing a bit more rationality than the tabloids, the article states : ‘Although the organisation (Islamic Relief) is inspired by Islam, its practices are humanitarian. It is not a proselytising organisation, it is a humanitarian one that seeks to help people without discrimination to faith.’

The article concludes: ‘The decision to ban the Lord’s Prayer advert was made by the cinema chains because of its religious content. However Transport for London has responsibility for adverts in London. It chooses to ban slogans linked to a “political party or political cause” but does not ban religious advertising.’

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

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