Comedians are forced to censor their jokes because they fear a backlash if they offend Islamic fundamentalists, one of the country’s best-known satirists has warned.
During an interview for an upcoming BBC documentary Rory Bremner warned that every time he writes a sketch about Islam he fears the retribution of Islamic extremists, and the warning is likely to fuel concerns for the future of free speech in the UK.
Speaking to Sir David Frost on the documentary, Mr Bremner said: “The greatest danger now is that one of the toughest issues of our time is religion.
“When [I’m] writing a sketch about Islam, I’m writing a line and I think, ‘If this goes down badly, I’m writing my own death warrant there.’ Because there are people who will say, ‘Not only do I not think that’s funny but I’m going to kill you’ – and that’s chilling.”
The political impressionist pointed to the case of Denmark cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, who was subjected to death threats because of a picture he drew of the prophet Mohammed.
Mr Bremner said: “If you’re a Danish cartoonist and you work in a Western tradition, people don’t take that too seriously.”
“Suddenly you’re confronted by a group of people who are fundamentalist and extreme and they say, ‘We’re going to kill you because of what you have said or drawn.’ Where does satire go from there, because we like to be brave but not foolish”, he continued.
He made his comments during an interview for the upcoming BBC documentary Frost on Satire, which is due to be broadcast this Thursday.
In March it was revealed that one of the eleven Danish newspapers that controversially reprinted Kurt Westergaard’s cartoon of the prophet Mohammed had apologised, as part of a settlement with a Saudi Arabian lawyer.