Animal Aid

Letter of complaint to Casualty

Posted 21 August 2007

Dear Editorial Complaints Unit

A report in The Observer (August 19), states that a plotline for BBC 1's Casualty, in which a Muslim suicide bomber blows himself up in a bus station, has been replaced by a storyline in which 'animal rights militants' plant a bomb on a bus 'leaving Holby City Hospital's Emergency Department to deal with the bloody aftermath'.

The reason for the plot change, according to The Observer, is that the Corporation's editorial guidelines staff determined that that 'the story would perpetuate stereotypes of young Muslims in Britain'.

Islamopohibia certainly is a considerable problem that needs to be addressed. But substituting one form of bigotry for another is no solution. The vast majority of animal rights campaigners in this country are entirely peaceful, compassionate people, who are committed to ending the abuse and suffering of animals. During the 30-plus years since the inception of the modern movement, animal rights people have neither killed nor seriously injured anyone. By contrast, three peaceful activists have been killed and many more injured.

Given that our movement is composed of many thousands of people, it can be reasonably asserted that, as a group, we are uncommonly peaceful and nonviolent. And yet the BBC presumes that while Muslim sensibilities are to be protected, animal rights campaigners can be freely defamed and besmirched. Apart from being offensive and hurtful, such portrayals authenticate prevailing negative stereotypes and give licence to government, the police and the courts to further undermine the civil and legal rights of peaceful campaigners.

I would urge the BBC to rethink the Casualty storyline once again and come up with something that is consonant with reality and avoids giving gross and unreasonable offence.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Tyler

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