Islam should be treated more sensitively than Christianity because Muslims are less integrated and more of a minority group, the head of the BBC said last night.
Director General, Mark Thompson was speaking at an event organised by the religious think-tank, Theos.
He was asked whether it was correct that the BBC “let vicar gags pass but not imam gags”.
He said: “My view is that there is a difference between the position of Christianity, which I believe should be central to the BBC’s religion coverage and widely respected and followed.
“What Christian identity feels like it is about to the broad population is a little bit different to people for whom their religion is also associated with an ethnic identity which has not been fully integrated.
“There’s no reason why any religion should be immune from discussion, but I don’t want to say that all religions are the same. To be a minority I think puts a slightly different outlook on it.”
In 2006 executives at the BBC admitted that they would consider broadcasting a scene where the Bible was thrown into a bin but they would never do the same with the Koran.
In the same year the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said that Christians took “more knocks” in BBC programmes than other faiths.
Dr Sentamu said: “They can do to us what they dare not do to the Muslims. We are fair game because they can get away with it.”
Mr Thompson, a practicing Roman Catholic, said he did not like programmes which feature discussions of the Bible and is sensitive to depictions of the life of Jesus.
He also rejected accusations that the BBC gives too much weight to the secular ideals of science or employs “moral relativism” when covering contentious issues such as medical ethics.
However, Mr Thompson did admit the publicly-funded corporation had given over too much coverage last month of the launch of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.
“I must say that by the end of that week, even for those of us who share my love of the Higgs-Boson, there did seem to be an awful lot of it on the air,” he said.
At the time of the coverage, Daily Mail columnist Steven Glover wrote: “The BBC represents a materialist, mechanistic consensus which has rejected God, and deludes itself that science is capable of providing a complete explanation of existence.”
In recent weeks the BBC has been at the centre of several controversies involving perceived bias against Christianity.
On Friday its long-running quiz show, Mastermind, attacked the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as being unreliable accounts of the life of Jesus.
On 7 October the popular soap opera, EastEnders, ridiculed ‘Christian’ character, Dot Cotton, for objecting to a gay kiss.
Last month the best-selling children’s author and Christian, G P Taylor, said he was refused appearances on the BBC because it couldn’t be “seen to be promoting Jesus”.