Emma, Ann and a sex doll that upsets Muslims

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The Independent Online

* The latest public figure to stand accused of defiling the Prophet Mohamed is not some Danish cartoonist, or French newspaper editor, but a hapless British Page 3 girl called Emma B.

Yesterday, the erotic retailer Ann Summers unveiled Miss B as the "face" of its new range of products.

Not 24 hours later, she finds herself on the front line of Islamic protest after Muslim leaders discovered that the range includes a new blow-up doll, called "Mustafa Shag".

Unfortunately, Mustafa was one of the names given to the Prophet Mohamed. Bestowing it upon, in the words of its catalogue, "an inflatable escort for your hen-night adventures" is considered highly offensive.

The Manchester Central Mosque has already written to the firm, calling on it to withdraw the product, right.

"You have no idea how much hurt, anguish, and disgust this obnoxious phrase ["Mustafa Shag"] has caused to Muslim men, women and children," reads their letter.

"We are asking you to please relent on compassionate grounds, and have our Most Reverend Prophet's Name "Mustafa" (Peace Be Upon Him) and the afflicted word 'shag' removed as soon as possible."

Ann Summers was last night examining options, though its chief executive Jacqueline Gold was reluctant to withdraw the item from sale.

"We don't want to offend, but this feels like political correctness gone mad," she said. "If anyone has a better name for a blow-up doll, please let us know."

* At last, some good news for Liz Hurley's ongoing bid to become a respected TV presenter.

A month after her debut programme, Project Catwalk, hit the screens, a bona fide fashion icon has finally decided to speak out in its support.

Marie Helvin, the former supermodel and wife of David Bailey, reckons it to be one of the finest shows on television.

"I think Elizabeth [left] is great at presenting. I've watched four episodes already," she told me at a party organised by Ruinart.

"The programme is accurate and I don't think she makes any attempt to pass herself off as a fashion expert. She's merely the presenter. So I'm a big fan of Project Catwalk; I hadn't realised it had been given a rough ride by television critics."

Views from that quarter have ranged from "witheringly boring" to "as much class as my second-hand lavatory".

But Sky have now turned the corner. "This is the first celebrity endorsement we've had from a celebrity who's actually watched it," said an excited spokesman yesterday.

* The chef Tom Aikens - proprietor of one of London's poshest restaurants - is moving into fast food.

Later this year, he'll open a sister "caff" to his eponymous Chelsea tavern, "serving everything from bacon butties to foie gras".

Sadly, Aikens has decided that the new opening won't be documented by a "fly-on-the-wall" camera team.

It's a break from tradition, since his last such business venture featured in a colourful episode of the TV show Trouble at the Top.

"The new restaurant will be opening in September and will be located near to my present one," he says.

"I'm a chef, not a celebrity chef, so I would never do any more bloody reality television stuff. I would only do something if it was educational."

If only some of his headline-prone neighbours (Gordon Ramsay is based just around the corner) were half as camera shy.

* With a puff of smoke, Andrew Neil will tomorrow identify the new editor of The Spectator.

Sadly, bookies now rate Pandora's favourite candidate, the energetic Tatler editor Geordie Greig, as a rank outsider.

Could this be related to recent cock-ups? The latest edition of Greig's society glossy carries a grovelling correction.

"Our apologies for inaccurately describing HRH Prince Ernst August of Hanover as a 'Prussian' Prince in our December issue," it reads.

That's quite a howler: Ernst's ancestors were booted out of Hanover by the Prussians in the 1800s.

"If it weren't for the bloody Prussians, he'd still have a proper kingdom," notes one royal historian.

* When George Galloway gets involved in a fundraising project, things aren't always all they seem.

Yesterday, the cigar-chomping Respect MP took part in a three-legged race at Westminster School to raise money for Childhood First.

All went swimmingly, until the closing stages, when Galloway and his hopping-partner, charity worker Stephen Blunden, ran out of puff.

Having been soundly beaten (and offered a wooden spoon) they demanded a rematch - against a team of seven-year-old children.

Some might reckon this bad sportsmanship, but Blunden insists it was for the good of the event.

"George was a real star, and did his best first time round, but everyone really wanted to see him win," he claims.

"We managed to do that once there were no adults to run against." Easy peasy!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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