Bremner fears joke about Islam would mean death

Adam Sherwin
Tuesday 15 June 2010 00:00 BST

The political satirist Rory Bremner has claimed that the "chilling" effect of fundamentalism means that every time he writes a sketch about Islam he fears that he is signing his own death warrant.

Speaking to Sir David Frost in a BBC documentary about the future of satire, Bremner argued that self-censorship was the biggest problem for practitioners of topical comedy today.

Bremner's views are echoed by other comedians including Ben Elton, who has accused the BBC of being "scared" to allow jokes about Islam. But Bremner went further by speaking about fears for his own personal safety.

"The greatest danger now is that one of the toughest issues of our time is religion," Bremner told Sir David in the BBC4 programme Frost on Satire, which will be broadcast on Thursday. "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."

He added: "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 said or have drawn.' Where does satire go from there, because we like to be brave but not foolish."

Sir David said he was "surprised" that Bremner felt that his life could be placed in danger by telling a joke.

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