BBC Asian Network apologises after blasphemy uproar

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The BBC Asian Network has been forced to apologise after it caused uproar over a tweet about blasphemy.

On Friday, the station tweeted a question about a discussion it was having on-air based around blasphemy. The question tweeted from the BBC Asian Network Twitter read: “What is the right punishment for blasphemy?”. Furthermore, presenter and Muslim activist Shazia Awan posted a video on the social media with the following: “Today I want to talk about blasphemy. What is the right punishment for blasphemy?”

The station received flak from listeners, campaigners and social media users for discussing the topic. Human rights campaigner Maryam Namazie said on Twitter: “Disgraceful that @bbcasiannetwork @ShaziaAwan would ask what ‘punishment’ should be for blasphemy. You know people get killed for it.”

The BBC Asian Network took to Twitter to apologise. It said, “Apologies for poorly worded question from #AsianNetwork yday. Q was in context of Pak asking FB to help we shd have made that clear. We never intend to imply Blasphemy should be punished. Provocative question that got it wrong.”

A BBC spokesman was telling The Independent, “Asian Network’s Big Debate asks difficult and provocative questions every day. This programme was an engaging discussion on the subject of blasphemy but we admit that the question could have been phrased better, as we have since made clear.”

Blasphemy is referred to an act of insulting or showing lack of reverence for God or a religion – it can carry the death penalty in Pakistan and those accused can face intense public anger. It has been illegal in Britain since 2008.

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