BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

Crosses banned?

Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks | 17:30 UK time, Thursday, 5 October 2006

The Daily Star yesterday had a memorable headline - "PC Prats cross at TV Fiona crucifix". I imagine the Star had a BBC boss like me in mind as a "PC Prat" - although I'm not angry and certainly not angry about any cross Fiona Bruce might wear.

Fiona BruceLet me be clear, the BBC hasn't banned anything - whether veils, crosses, hijabs, scarves, skull caps, turbans or burkhas. What we have been discussing is what it's appropriate for newsreaders to wear, especially at a time of heightened religious tension.

The debate puts in opposition some principles the BBC stands for. The BBC is a supporter of freedom of expression. Equally we want our newsreaders to be seen as entirely impartial. Any religious clothing or insignia they wear could make some viewers question their impartiality. We were asked the hypothetical question of what we would do in the event that a Muslim newsreader wanted to wear a head scarf or veil. I suspect that some of the newspapers that have been poking fun at our consideration of wearing crosses would find a veil-wearing newsreader highly newsworthy, to put it mildly.

Anyway this is just a debate at the moment. It's a new area for us to consider and that means there is an opportunity for viewers to let us know what you think. So what would you prefer: Freedom of expression or complete impartiality in attire?

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 06:14 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Ivan Kent wrote:

Weasel words Peter! It appears that you are intimidated by those whose faith is stronger than yours.

  • 2.
  • At 06:30 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Tip wrote:

Good question. It's a delicate balance, but I think the focus has got to be on whatever level is not a distraction from the job. If Fiona normally wears a crucifix, then fine, it's quite a normal thing for women to do in this country to do, and is unlikely to distract anyone. If there was a Christian v Muslim war going on, it might be different, but similarly deciding NOT to allow her to wear one is a distraction too. For this reason, a burkha or hijab would also be a distraction - it's something that people would notice and would take the emphasis away from the news.

  • 3.
  • At 06:40 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Joe Hanly wrote:

If Fiona Bruce wants to wear a cross, let her wear a cross. Lets be honest, you wouldn't ask a Jewish newsreader to remove his skull cap, a sikh to remove his turban or a muslium woman to remove her veil.

It's called freedom of expression!

  • 4.
  • At 07:50 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • David Morris wrote:

Fiona's cross is more than jewellery - from her point of view - and your point - is from the viewers viewpoint. She is the public face of your organisation, so you need to have a view about how she is percieved.
Her "sectarian jewllery" could be oppressive or offputting for 'non-christian' viewers. I would notice an overtly Muslim newsreader, and wonder where things were going at the BBC - I would be challenged by a vieled newsreader - but I would be accepting and face that challenge as coming from a valid element of our multi-cultured society.
I may be doing many of our British Muslim's a diservice, but I don't think they could as easily discount this challenge that Fiona is probably unwittingly casting.
I know the younger people in the Pakistani family I grew up next door to would not be challenged by Fiona's cross - they seemed to be embracing our culture, whilst maintaining and showing respect to their own.
The objective should be be for all British citizens to respect the reasonably intended actions and customs of their fellow citizens. Making undue allowance for the ill informed prejudices of some of those citizens, are we doing them a diservice, or helping them to integrate by "going easy" on them, and not putting their backs up unintentionally.
Or should we see them as aspiring to be British, and acting in a way that should not offend British people in general.
It begs the question - "Who are the British people these days?" They are not what they used to be. If we are in flux, how long for? Is it a gradual process, where newsreaders can wear crucifixes in 10 years time? in 20 years? in 50 years?
We must be sensitive to our citizens prejudices and genuine concerns - and I believe we do endeavour so to be. But we must also be brave enough to have a view of what is acceptable behaviour in our Country, from an internal and external perspective, and show who we are, as we have always done.
Our citizens, and the rest of the world will judge us accordingly.

  • 5.
  • At 08:05 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Graham wrote:

The cross is just a symbol of a persons belief. If someone is viewed as impartial becuase of wearing the cross they are just as impartial not wearing the cross, or if it is hidden from view.

  • 6.
  • At 08:36 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • marc wrote:

I think this is a good call on the BBC's part. No matter how small the symbol, religion should be kept out of newsreading.

However on other programs, such as lottery, weather etc it shouldn't be a problem. Anyhow thats just me 2 pennys worth.

  • 7.
  • At 08:51 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

This story was also included on the front page of the Daily Express two days running. Today's Express says "Outrage over BBC's 'crazy' Fiona Bruce cross ban". But, as you say, there has been no ban. The Daily Express must have finally run out of stories about Diana and the weather.

  • 8.
  • At 09:15 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

It will take a lot more than choice of clothing or lack of other accoutrements connoting affiliations to make BBC appear as a neutral factual reporter of the news. It's not those who read the news who are biased anyway, it's the words written for them and the images shown with those words which give the lie to any claim BBC might make for impartiality. It is the decision of the editors and reporters to skew their broadcasts, the result of the kind of people who get hired, and the organization's own cultural pressures they are forced to conform to. As usual, by discussing clothing BBC focuses on the most superficial aspects of an issue as a convenient way to obfuscate the real core of it. As an clearly alien presence on American television and radio through NPR and PBS, BBC is often out of touch with the audience it targets in the US. And were American based news broadcasters to comment on domestic British issues such as how the NHS is run or on domestic British politicians and then broadcast it incessantly directly into British homes every day the way BBC broadcasts into American homes, I think Brits would be outraged. BBC seems to have no limits or restraints on telling Americans how their nation should be run or on judging those elected to the responsibility of running it. By contrast, were anyone to ask most Americans who would make a better prime minister Gordon Brown or David Cameron, if you didn't tell them, they'd have to guess which country you were talking about.

  • 9.
  • At 09:46 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • miika wrote:

I seem to recall a while ago there was another Editor's Blog about a reporter donning a headscarf while abroad (I don't recall the details).

So whilst I understand the neutrality comment, I'm not sure it can apply, since the argument can be made that you permitted that report to go out wearing a piece of attire related to one religion, out of cultural deference, but are dubious about another symbol of another religion which is the predominant religion of England.

Personally, I don't think any symbol a reporter wears is indicative of any bias - Now if the editor of a segment showed up wearing one, then the claim might have a chance maybe.

Regardless of the BBC's history (are you still required to wear a jacket and tie when reading the radio news?), I think that being a newsreader should not mean that you have to subsume symbols of your faith just because you're in the public eye. Why should they be required to hide their own selves just to make others happy?

No matter which way you jump on this, you're going to annoy at least 1/3rd of your viewing audience (another 1/3rd being happy, the last 1/3rd being too apathetic to notice to begin with).

So on that basis, I'd simply say screw trying to please everyone, let the presenters make their own decision based on -their- consciences, faith, beliefs, and feelings on the matter, and hope that somewhere out there will be people who actually don't try to read every little thing into every nothing.

  • 10.
  • At 10:36 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Ken wrote:

That fact you are even thinking about stuff like this makes me want to stop paying my license fee. The BBc really have gone(PC) mad!
Ken

  • 11.
  • At 11:05 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Tad wrote:

What we are looking for is impartiality in the news coverage. What a person is wearing or believes is immaterial as long as it doesn't prevent them presenting the news in the way we have come to expect from the BBC.

Worrying about what a person is wearing only reflects on society's obsession with celebrity, and the need to find out about the people 'behind' the news. At the end of the day it matters (to most of us) not a jot.

Oh this is all getting too complicated. I have always regarded BBC Newsreaders as stuffed shirts who looked like they were going to a formal dinner. The changing face of newsreaders was a statement of a changing society and changing attitudes. Tall, Short, Black, White, Welsh but always Middle Class.

Now the prospect of them expressing their own personality/beliefs/affiliations.

The first Newsreader in a Death Metal t-shirt will at least get me watching. But in the end I just want them to give me the news rather than distract from it.

I'm a strong believer that all religious beliefs cause harm to society. I think they build superstitious walls that only serve to segregate us beyond what simple minds do with the color of ones skin or texture of ones hair. I'm sure there would be an uproar if a reporter whore an atheist pendant which firmly declares that god is fake. With that in mind one will very easily see that crosses and turbans do not belong on news castors.

I remember BBC world banning the wearing of poppies a few years ago!


  • 15.
  • At 09:14 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Frankie wrote:

Are you going to ban xmas decorations from all news progs as they are for a christian celebration? Where does it stop ? The muslim community should consider themselves lucky to be living in a country that is prepared to change its values, customs and social outlook to fit in with muslim religious beliefs.

  • 16.
  • At 09:25 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Andrew B wrote:

One day it will happen - there will be a female newsreader wearing a headscarf. And the press will be in "uproar".

Then we'll all forget about it and get on with our lives.

One day there may be aliens presenting the news. And there will be uproar in the press. Then we'll forget about it and get on with our lives. And so on ;)

  • 17.
  • At 09:26 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Trevor Martin wrote:

How does forbidding a newsreader from wearing a cross suppose impartiality?

Allowing newsreaders to wear whatever they want shows impartiality.

  • 18.
  • At 09:36 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Jessica wrote:

I see no problem with a discreet crucifix, nor with a veil. It would be so much worse to forbid a Muslim woman from presenting the news, or to force her to remove her veil. I am Christian, but would welcome a Muslim newsreader in terms of diversity and equal opportunity. I feel it would reflect our changing culture. And so much better to include different religions than to exclude them and put yourself open to claims of discrimination etc..

  • 19.
  • At 09:53 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Derek Wetenhall wrote:

News readers can wear what they like as far as I'm concerned although a full vail seems like going a bit too far but what I realy object to is having two news readers acting like Pinky and Perky while reading the news. Is this an excuse for wanting more licence money to pay these extra saleries.

  • 20.
  • At 09:58 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

What would we talk about if we did not have religion? From a country whose church membership is scarce I find it strange that these issues are so high on the agenda.Does anyone really care?

  • 21.
  • At 10:18 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • richard wrote:

ok, you haven't banned the cricifix, but you're very careful about answering the question. ie you don't. did you or anyone at the bbc ask her to remove the crucifix before she appeared on the news? yes or no answer please...

  • 22.
  • At 10:19 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Matthew wrote:

It seems to me obvious that she should be allowed to wear a cross, that a Jewish newsreader should be allowed to wear a kippah, and so on. Are the ban-proposers really concerned that Muslim/Jewish/Atheist viewers will be threatened by the idea that Fiona Bruce is a Christian?

Multiculturalism is about being able to be open with our neighbours about who we are, how we worship, and so on, not about pretending we're all just the same as each other.

  • 23.
  • At 10:19 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • George Styles wrote:

Freedom of expression or impartial? Freedom of expression every time.

This is just one example of many cultural differences - we cannot possibly prevent any cultural leaning on reporters (apart from covering them up... with... ???)

george

  • 24.
  • At 10:20 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

Would someone who believes that they shouldn't be seen in public actually want to be a TV presenter? I don't see the burqa issue arising.

I have no objection to headscarves, turbans, yarmulkes, or crucifixes. Culturally, I think we need to see the facial expressions of our newsreaders.

  • 25.
  • At 10:26 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

"Anyway this is just a debate at the moment."

I don't think I have heard a phrase that demeans discussion as much as this one!

  • 26.
  • At 10:30 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • David wrote:

BBC Newsreaders impartial? Nice idea! It is what they say, not what they wear,that gives them away! Hmmm - (Should secular folk with no symbols be taken as biased against religious folk?)

  • 27.
  • At 10:33 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Graham O wrote:

What I would like is an unbiased news report read by someone I can believe as being impartial. I find it difficult to believe a person is unbiased if they display a symbol of their views. I wouldn't expect a newsreader to wear a political motif so why should they wear a religious one.

  • 28.
  • At 10:34 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • James wrote:

As usual political correctness only serves to highten tensions and make the situation worse. "We want our newsreaders to be seen as entirely impartial". Perhaps the newsreader shouldn't be shown on screen as whether they're white, asian or black, or whether they're overweight or not might be seen as bias. In fact better digitally alter their voices lest gender makes people unable to be impartial! In fact none of this would do any good as somebody being impartial has nothing to do with what they're wearing on-screen, it's an inherent personality trait.

Anyway, as was pointed out in comment number 8 "It's not those who read the news who are biased anyway, it's the words written for them and the images shown with those words which give the lie to any claim BBC might make for impartiality". Please give your viewers the smallest amount of credit, the average viewer of the BBC news isn't going to assume ill intent just because the newsreader is religious! It's precisely that kind of thinking that creates the climate of fear that this country is rapidly snowballing into.

  • 29.
  • At 10:34 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Simon Nadin wrote:

For what its worth, I am entirely in agreement with John Smith above.

  • 30.
  • At 10:39 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • David B Sears wrote:

Is this still christian England or a satellite country of Asia?
Depicting the Nativity has virtually been dropped at Christmas from our cards, in shop windows and all other places where it used to be. Why, would other countries do this for us if we went there, I definitely think not!
Let Fiona carry on with her faith and cross,let the jews wear their skull caps and all the other sects wearing what they want. Just give me the BBC news as you always have done, simply,truthfully and honestly with a smile.

  • 31.
  • At 10:40 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Den wrote:

What is the world coming to? My experience of life so far would say that faiths are offended when other faiths are not entitled to express themselves freely because of political correctness. I long for the day when other people (usually of no religious persuasion) abandon the obsession with watering down beliefs to the lowest common denominator. As a Christian, I would defend to my death the right to express my faith through symbols - and I would defend the right of other people of faith to do the same. The news stays the same regardless of who reads it and what they are wearing. Why don't people just stop interfering and stirring up malicious opinions.

  • 32.
  • At 10:45 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • K Riley wrote:

Freedom of expression or complete impartiality in attire? How about just some common sense.

Obviously you don't want a newsreader wearing a headscarf or veil, it gets in the way of the delivery of the news, just in the same way you wouldn't allow a newsreader to wear sunglasses or casual clothes.

Crosses are a different matter however, we all know people who wear crosses, we can accept and understand (whatever our religion) that the cross represents, for most people, Christian values.

Out of interest, what was the answer to your hypothetical question that you posed to yourselves?

  • 33.
  • At 10:46 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Les Leeds wrote:

Hi

While the BBC must strive to be impartial, individuals all have beliefs and opinions. As a public we need to be mature enough to accept that. We should be happy to see crosses,traditional muslim dress, stars of david or or the pentacle. Newspapers will always divide opinion, the BBC must unite the nation. This can only be done by presenting people as they are; and not pretending we are all the same.

Les

  • 34.
  • At 10:47 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Toby wrote:

It would be very interesting to have the News at 10 read for one evening by a woman in a full Burkha - it would at least cause some of the audience to notice and consider their own response to it.

I realise it would smack of tokenism, and then you'd have to have someone from each major religion donning full garb to read the news and it would all end up a bit naff. But interesting thought experiment nevertheless. Personally I would like to see less conformity and "in comfort zone" dress by reporters and news people. Bring it on - Goths, Burkhas, ageing Led Zepplin t-shirts ...

  • 35.
  • At 10:49 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Aaron McKenna wrote:

Can we see the context in which the cross was worn? Does this have any bearing on the discussion? Of course it does. I doubt that she donned the cross with the intention of putting down people of other religions. She, like so many other women in Britain, wears it because it is the done thing, not because people want to put down Muslims, Jews, Sikhs or anyone else for that matter.

Context matters.

  • 36.
  • At 10:50 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Debbie-anne Portch wrote:

This argument makes me absolutely furious. The political correctness in this country is driving out our very Britishness. We are, after all, supposed to be a Christian country. It seems that more and more these days we are not allowed to be seen to be openly supporting Christianity, as that could offend other religions. As a committed Christian, I support the right for any follower of any faith to wear the clothes/symbols pertinent to their faith. Personally, I would not work for a company, nor live in a country, which would "not allow" me to wear a cross or crucifix. I also think that to judge any newsreaders impartiality based on the religious symbolism that they wear is an insult to their professionalism.

  • 37.
  • At 10:53 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Olivia wrote:

I find it worrying that we have arrived at a position where we (as individuals as well as our national institutions) cannot feel free to subtly express our religious affiliations in a Christian (but ideally ANY) country without feeling there is potential to provoke another Christian - Muslim war or more terrorism. I think the way we report news, and what we choose to cover, is primarily to blame for this. But we have never yet managed to have a mature discussion about appropriate boundaries between ethnic communities and the dominant culture, especially when sensitive issues need to be discussed.

  • 38.
  • At 10:53 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Matt Wood wrote:

Political correctness has a lot to answer for, and in my view it's becoming more and more ludicrous by the day.

Let's all take a big breath, relax and return to a culture of freedom of expression for all whether verbal or visual.

Bring back common sense.

Matt

  • 39.
  • At 10:54 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Bill wrote:

Freedom of expression please, Peter. Cross or veil, both would be fine by me. If it's not a problem, and really there's nothing to suggest that it is, then I think you go some way towards making it one by discussing it.

  • 40.
  • At 10:57 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Lucy Jones wrote:

I agree with earlier posters who think that reporters wearing distinctive clothing or accessories distracts from the information.

Recently a Breakfast presenter attracted dozens (!) of complaints because she was wearing a particularly bright jacket/dress or something. It was actually really annoying.

I personally find any and all jewellery on newsreaders distracting - I like the men in a sober suit, plain shirt and plain tie, and the women in a similarly unpatterned outfit. Moira Stewart always seems to wear a dark suit with a plain pale top, and this is ideal.

  • 41.
  • At 11:00 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • John Swire wrote:

I wonder what the reaction of the religious upholders of freedom of expression over impartiality would think of a newsreader wearing an antifaith symbol like a Darwin Fish. I'm genuinely interested!

  • 42.
  • At 11:01 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • craig wrote:

"we want our newsreaders to be seen as entirely impartial"

rubbish. how can we be expected to swallow this one? bias and opinion are part of the dna of news media, whether it's a reporter or reader. peter, you need to get over yourself, and quickly. otherwise you'll be worrying about whether fiona's choice of wardrobe is a little too middle class. blue suits, anyone?

  • 43.
  • At 11:03 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Susan Workman wrote:

I understand that these questions must be asked but if you ask her to remove her crucifix you are asking her to be ashamed of her religion which is not right. I have nothing against other religions wearing their different clothes not matter what there job and the crucifix is not the biggest symbol of religion, most people dont even notice if someone is wearing one or not. so let the Christians wear there crosses, the jews wear their skull caps, the muslims their veils, the sikhs their turbans and let thoes who are religious be proud of who they are!!!!

  • 44.
  • At 11:07 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • cliff wrote:

Newsreaders need to provide news, facts, based on empirical evidence, not heresay. Be definition, people who are overtly religious are prepared to believe things based on heresay and faith, rather than evidence. as a result, they are not fit to be newsreaders.

  • 45.
  • At 11:10 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Christine Kirk wrote:

Why is this being discussed at all -it's a non issue - if Fiona wants to wear a cross or a crucifix then she can - it's her choice. What about her rights? I am a Christian and proud to be so - other religions would feel the same about their faith - so who's offending who - I think it's Christians who are being offended against - not necessarily by people with faith but by those without. And anyway, have the BBC got nothing better to do - get on with what you are supposed to do especially as I am paying for you.

  • 46.
  • At 11:15 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Vicky wrote:

There is confusion here. It is not a sign of impartiality to wear traditional Western dress with no religious symbols. It is indeed saying you are not an observant Jew, Muslim or Sikh, and possibly not an observant Christian either! The result of your argument is to say that BBC newsreaders should imply that they have no religion, which is a statement in itself.

I appreciate is it not an easy balance to strike - no answer is the correct one. So admit that please!

  • 47.
  • At 11:16 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • James Napper wrote:

I think it is a slight misconception by the BBC that they have and try and communicate the perception that they give an authoritative and neutral/impartial view.

The reality is that the BBC can never achieve this, the way in which it chooses which news story it reports and it chooses not to report, let alone the style, tone and yes the image of the newsreporter and programmes that delievers it.

In an age of huge access to information, it is dangerous in one respect to have an entity such as the bbc perporting to have an authority on what neutral and impartial means.

Although perhaps the BBC can be commended in the way it tries to give a balanced reportage in a lot of cases, I think the attitude that one can strip out individuals own personal beliefs and ideas, or as a collective this can be achieved to compile some kind of pure broadcast is both impossible and unneccesary.

  • 48.
  • At 11:19 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

Before I start let me just say that personally I'm an athiest. However, I find the suggestion of telling a newsreader not to wear a crucifix, a cross, a burkha, a hijab, a yarmulke, or any other religious item highly offensive. This is indeed "political correctness" at its worst. Also, I'm sure you're aware that under current legislation an outright ban would be discrimination on religious grounds. I would fight for the right of freedom of religious expression just as strongly as would I fight against any intolerance whether on the basis of gender, race, sexual preference, nationality, religion or anything else.

I'd prefer you to do whatever it takes to wind up the daily mail.

Your words are very carefully chosen, Peter, but I can't help wondering; who is having this debate? Is Fiona part of the debate? Has she been told not to wear the cross, has it been suggested to her that she might consider wearing alternative adornments, or has this debate never actually crossed her path? It's not at all clear from what you've written.

So when you say "there has been no ban", well, that's fair enough; but almost in the same sentence you admit that BBC bosses are, indeed, considering banning/removing/asking newsreaders not to wear religious symbols. So the story in the tabloids is simplistic and sensationalised, as we would expect; but it's not untrue.

Reminiscent of former BBC business editor Jeff Randall, who was asked by a producer to remove a pair of Union flag cufflinks before he want on air "because they were a symbol of the BNP". We now are so concerned about causing offence that it causes us to preemptively censor anything which could even conceivably be construed in that way. It's pathetic.

  • 51.
  • At 11:22 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Jim wrote:

If you observe children at play in a playground you notice that they do not recognise or acknowledge differences in race, colour or creed. Its teachers, parents and the media that introduce them to this concept as they get older. As soon as you point out something like a crucifix, a skin colour, a cultural trait, people will be there to take issue with, or fight over it. Who thought that the Gollywog off the jam jar was racist? It never occurred to me until some idiot pointed it out. It would be better all round if everyone just kept their mouths shut and concentrated on more serious issues.
I sit here and watch the country, if not the world fall apart over pathetic, mindless trivia like the crucifix. Did any of the brainless puppets out there register the news the following day, or were they all looking for contraband jewellery.
Finally, if this country does fall apart, it will be over PC garbage like this. Think about it. Crucifixes, Jack Straws veils, Manhole cover being a sexist term,Blackboard being a racist term, Hot Cross buns along with saying "Merry Christmas" offensive to religious minorities, positive discrimination in the police, racist revving of an engine (I kid you not) etc etc.

  • 52.
  • At 11:24 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • julian rowe wrote:

"So what would you prefer: Freedom of expression or complete impartiality in attire?"

In this context, are these questions different? In any event, 'impartiality in attire' means what? I cant' even think of a sensible answer to that one, and that presents a problem.

AS suggested variously above, that such questions are being considered at all points to real problems at the BBC rather than anything else.

'Impartial attire' forsoothe: no leather, no cotton, no synthetics, did you make that yourself sir, from nettle fibres gathered at the full moon? OR

If 'freeedom of expression' was actually meant as an alternative (to what, please?), the mind can only boggle!

Fresh air and real people urgently needed!

  • 53.
  • At 11:25 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Geoff Beale wrote:

What does it matter what they wear?

All I want is for them to report the news, i.e. tell me about PAST events.

Just stop them conducting those interminable, pointless, discussions with "experts" about what MIGHT happen in the future!

  • 54.
  • At 11:37 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Gwyn Evans wrote:

I can't see any issue with Fiona Bruce wearing a cross, nor can I see any issue with a Muslim newsreader wearing a head-scarf.

I would however regard a veil as being something that should disqualify them from (television) presenting for a UK station, at least.

"bias and opinion are part of the dna of news media"

That's one of the problems - we should be working towards an impartial news/media, too many media owners and religious groups hawk their opinions as truth to brainwash the unsuspecting masses.

Lets have impartial presenters without any symbols or badges.

  • 56.
  • At 12:18 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Hilary James wrote:

There are many issues surrounding impartiality and bias (and the very notion that any news organisation is is frankly laughable) that we could be discussing instead of this nonsense. It's because the BBC and other news organisations throw out these ridiculous side games that distract us from getting a truly impartial news.

As an athiest, I have to say I've never even noticed Bruce's cross and couldn't care less if she wears one.

  • 57.
  • At 12:20 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Alan Marsh wrote:

As a member of the 72% minority in the UK which describes itself as Christian, I am very glad to be affirmed in my minority status by the sight of a newsreader wearing a cross!

  • 58.
  • At 01:10 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • anon wrote:

>>If Fiona Bruce wants to wear a cross, let her wear a cross. Lets be honest, you wouldn't ask a Jewish newsreader to remove his skull cap, a sikh to remove his turban or a muslium woman to remove her veil.
It's called freedom of expression!

Actually I would ask any of those people to remove the items if they were in a position were they should appear impartial, such as newsreader on BBC. At times such garb runs counter to our culture, in this country it part of of our culture to remove hats indoors and not hide your face when talking to someone, to not do so is offensive to our culture; why should their culture be considered more import to not offend than ours. Their culture may be different but surely a person should respect the culture of the country they choose to reside it.

It's called politeness.


  • 59.
  • At 01:16 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Morris wrote:

Nude news seems the only way to go!

  • 60.
  • At 01:35 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Gareth wrote:

Mark (number 8)

With all due respect, I think the reverse is true. I can't help thinking that the fact that British viewers feel that they know, understand and are interested in American politics, whilst, as you admit, some Americans wouldn't know what country Gordon Brown and David Cameron come from, tends to suggest that the BBC's version of news helps to produce a population whose view of the world outside their own country is perhaps more informed than others.

At the end of the day, thanks to the BBC, I know not only who the American President and Vice President are, but the identities of the Treasury Secretary and the most likely candidates in the next presidential election. Why shouldn't American's know the same sort of thing about Britain - and if the news channels in America don't provide that information, surely that's the problem that needs addressing.

(Incedentally 'though, I think you're being a little harsh on your fellow countrymen. Whilst the American who doesn't know or care about anything outside the border of their state is a handy, and popular, stereotype the one's that I've met have been universally well informed about the world. (Thanks in no small part to the BBC!)

  • 61.
  • At 01:43 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • M. Crowther wrote:

Would not surprise me if sooner or later wearing a crucifix was banned.

  • 62.
  • At 02:18 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Jim wrote:

I know everyone has a bee in their bonnet about this cross, but just as an observation, isnt the crucifix in the picture upside down.
I thought an inverted crucifix was a satanic symbol. :)

For all those who hark on about a news reader's chance for freedom of expression, how would people feel if a news reader wore a Make Poverty History badge or a political party's identification? Religion is no more pure a set of beliefs than politics, and deserves no special dispensation.

  • 64.
  • At 03:30 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • anon wrote:

"I'd prefer you to do whatever it takes to wind up the daily mail"

Would a comment like the above but substituting the Guardian or Daily Mirror be allowed? Of course not. So why did you allow this worthless comment?

"'impartiality in attire' means what?" Julian

The news is the business of bringing facts to the people. A business dress code is perfectly acceptable and necessary. Wearing a piece of leather does not present a particular view. Wearing leather does not promote the slaughter of cows, at most it promotes that dead animals are not "sacred". Wearing a black leather S&M outfit however would be promoting a view and wouldn't be excepted in the board room or on the air.

"One day there may be aliens presenting the news. And there will be uproar in the press. Then we'll forget about it and get on with our lives. And so on" Andrew

I wouldn't have any problem with an "alien" presenting the news as long as they were a naturalized citizen. If the alien started wearing Scientology pendants, I wouldn't forget about it. I would start looking for my news from a sane source.

"Multiculturalism is about being able to be open with our neighbors about who we are, how we worship, and so on, not about pretending we're all just the same as each other." Mathew

Perhaps religion should be removed from the definition of "Culture". In stating "how we worship" you imply that everyone worships. This mindset is to be expected from sects that see each member of the collective as the same, "gods" chosen people. Humanism is the only true "belief" for it embraces the fact that we are all different although we are exactly the same in one way, we are all human. Non of us are descended from a superhuman!

Putting symbols of anything that has no factual basis on the news is unacceptable no matter how small it is or where it is located.

  • 66.
  • At 05:31 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • John Charman wrote:

From my standpoint, where religions are the root of all evil, I think any symbolism is inappropriate for a neutral broadcaster to display. To do the job justice they need to be seen to be impartial - so no crosses skull caps, turbans or anything else. If wearing that kind of symbol is essential to the individual concerned, fair enough, but they should not expect in that case to be able to fill the role of broadcast newsreader.

  • 67.
  • At 06:39 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • miika wrote:

it says something interesting about people that they will judge the veracity of the news more on the appearance of the newsreader than the content itself.

It says something about people that they're all for personal expression, as long as that expression is demanding others not have personal expression of their own.

It says something about people that they just have to find some reason to find fault or bias in the newsreader ... are people that scared of the content of the news itself that they are so desparate to find -anything- that will allow them to dismiss it completely and claim bias?

It says something about people that they can only see bias, automatically and irrationally, and refuse to accept that people might just actually have integrity ... Is that because they see no integrity in themselves and so presume no-one else has it either?

Just how low have things gotten back there that such hatred and paranoia and outright ignorance has become the standard of the day?

I forgot ... sheeple aren't supposed to think for themselves based on the actual news, that goes against various special interests who are quite happy that the population is more busy worrying about who is wearing a cross than what is actually being said.

  • 68.
  • At 08:30 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Jim wrote:

As you say, it's only a debate at the moment. I'd hope that any newsreader or on-screen personality wouldn't wear anything to indicate any political or religious leanings or sympathies, as a matter of professional pride.

Nor, of course, should they be required to.

So I trust that the BBC will no longer be requiring its TV presenters and reporters to wear poppies in the week before Remembrance Sunday.

  • 69.
  • At 12:02 AM on 07 Oct 2006,
  • Dave democrat wrote:

That is exactly the argument....put a newsreader in a hijab and you may as well call it radio...what is the point in watching a television when you can't see the presenters face...Has this country gone completely mad?

  • 70.
  • At 12:51 PM on 07 Oct 2006,
  • Marko wrote:

Anything that distracts the viewer from the message or that can be explained as a 'proof' of bias, should not be in the picture.

Religion is personal and personal beliefs should not interfere with the professional message the company you work for wants to express.

The BBC stands for impartiality and wants to reflect that to its viewers. So behaviour that interferes with that message, should not and cannot be accepted. That means no active involvement in political parties, no involvement in advertising for commercial companies or lobby groups and no signs of personal lifestyle, whether it be religious or sexual orientation.

If one would like to express his or her personal views in the public arena, it might be wise to go work for a company that expresses the same message.

  • 71.
  • At 05:34 PM on 07 Oct 2006,
  • Eric wrote:

I've no more objection to newsreaders displaying their religious affiliations than I have to them displaying their political affiliations. They are equally valid signs of some serious splits in our society.

It would be nice to see some National Secular Society symbols on the news.

  • 72.
  • At 05:42 PM on 07 Oct 2006,
  • Sophia E wrote:

Fiona Bruce's cross is hardly eyecatching or a demonstration of religious affiliation. One could argue that in many muslim countries female tv presenters don't wear veils- in fact some are very provocatively dressed and made up.

However, the BBC have to protect themselves against possible future legal action from an aspiring tv presenter who could claim she is not given the spotlight because she wears a veil. It's best to set out the rules now before the problem arises.

The BBC is not alone in this, TV networks around the world (some very close to the UK) have had to deal with similar issues.

  • 73.
  • At 10:06 PM on 07 Oct 2006,
  • Jay Morgan wrote:

I think this whole thing is an embarrassment to everything that I stand for. Offensive, even. I am all for freedom of speech and all for freedom of expression, and for the said journalist to bow down to this pathetic, idiotic, moronic and senseless decision is ridiculous, and shows weakness in character to me. If she wants to be seen wearing a cross round her neck, then she should stick to her guns and fight for her right to. I have a lot of respect for the BBC, but with this...? Who are they trying to please, Sikh's and Muslims, or the government in their pathetic bid to be seen in forefront of a multi-cultural nation, but fail to see abysmally, the English culture. We are a Christian country afterall. I would be pleasently surprised to see this message published, but I'm not holding my breath.

  • 74.
  • At 02:57 PM on 08 Oct 2006,
  • Will wrote:

Would anyone have actually noticed if someone was wearing a a small cross round thier neck while reading the news! Does anyone really care what sort of necklace a lady chooses to wear! Shocking as this may seem I know some people who wear crosses purely becasue they like them rather than because they are that religious! Anyone who is that offeneded can I am sure watch the news at 7 on Channel 4 with John Snow, he just wears a tie! This type of story does one thing, help the far right gain political power.

  • 75.
  • At 09:00 PM on 08 Oct 2006,
  • David Boult wrote:

It is entirely up to Fiona Bruce whether or not she chooses to wear a cross, but it is extremely disturbing that she may feel pressurised in making her decision either way.

I suspect that the vast majority of people who are members of other religions would at least prefer us as Christians to be sincere about our faith, as they are about theirs. The cross is central to the Christian faith, and as such we should not be uneasy, afraid or shy about saying so, either verbally or by the wearing of a cross if we choose to do so. It is part of the open dialogue that is essential if we are to have an understanding, cohesive, integrated and peaceful coexistence.

  • 76.
  • At 02:59 PM on 09 Oct 2006,
  • Dean-Adrian Evans Jnr wrote:

I personally feel that we as humans are becoming (dare i say) too sensitive to certain issues, what happened to personal freedom, what happened to the united kindom being a christian country once upon a time. i agree that times have changed but what was will be and what comes during or after is and will be viewed as second best, i agree again that this statement is out of line but how eles will we sort out these issues we have, when in rome..............

  • 77.
  • At 03:38 PM on 09 Oct 2006,
  • Jan wrote:

Of the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jews that I know, none of them are offended by the fact that I have a faith and choose to express it through wearing a crucifix. People who have a faith, of whatever kind, are generally speaking tolerant of another person's beliefs.

The most antagonism I get for being a Christian comes from atheists. Apparently, the fact that I and other people have a personal faith in Jesus Christ offends their sensibilities.

The impartiality of the BBC should be a secular thing, not a religious thing. Wearing a cross or any symbol of religion doesn't prevent a person from presenting documentable facts to the public to enable them to make their own minds up on an issue. It's not for the BBC to decide what viewers may or may not find offensive. It's bad enough that our government tries to do that for us.

I find it particularly interesting that most people (by which I mean tabloid editors and their readership) think that the BBC's decision to review the wearing of religious symbols by news-readers is in order to pander to Muslims. How impartial are they?

  • 78.
  • At 11:13 PM on 09 Oct 2006,
  • Rob wrote:

What if I feel that Jason Mohammed's surname indicates a possible religious affiliation? After all, "we want our newsreaders to be seen as entirely impartial". Should he be made to change his name to Jason Jones?

Or, just possibly, the BBC should admit that newsreaders are not robots and that as long as there are humans involved in the writing and presenting of news stories then there will be potential impartiality.

  • 79.
  • At 06:51 AM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • fatima wrote:

as a muslim the last thing that can offend is a cross worn by a news reader? when did these things start being so important? why are decisions taken by the leaders, producers etc and then blame muslims,(usually) of being offended, pampered to etc when to be honest we had'nt even thought about it!

  • 80.
  • At 11:48 AM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Howard wrote:

Are you kidding?

Who in heaven's name cares whether she wears a cross? Or a hat? Or a headscarf?

I'm not a Christian, and ***I*** certainly couldn't care less about her cross, as long as she's doing her job and reporting in a professional way.

Get a grip, guys. So much is drastically wrong and totally confused at the BBC. You have reporters who demonstrate extreme bias, utter journalistic sloth and unbelievably poor judgment. Forget crosses and fix what's really wrong.

Your reputation for poor, biased coverage in some parts of the world is deserved, not because of what your presenters and celebrities wear, but because of what they DO.

  • 81.
  • At 05:34 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Alison Smith wrote:

I am an atheist but feel strongly that newsreaders should be able to wear religious symbols if they wish to. Enough of the PC clap-trap!

  • 82.
  • At 07:22 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Tom wrote:

I think that too much is made of "whom" we might offend or better yet, "whom's" tail do we want to kiss. This whole notion of not offending anyone anymore has turned our planet into a bunch of spineless crybabies. If I cryed about everythign that offended me I would not be able to function

  • 83.
  • At 06:25 AM on 12 Oct 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

There is a case for everyone agreeing not to wear symbols if one of them arouses controversy amounting to real anger. There is a lot to be said for a little peace and quiet even by giving away rather too much.
I suppose the problem is that the owner of the one concerned would not agree.

  • 84.
  • At 07:22 AM on 12 Oct 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

To Rob (78) 9/10/06.

“change his ( the newsreader's ) name to Jason Jones” . I am afraid that will not do: it implies a Welsh connection.
I am working on finding something completely neutral. It is going to take a very long time!

  • 85.
  • At 12:25 PM on 12 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

The cross or crucifix says very little about people's actual commitment (or otherwise) to Christianity. Take the example of Madonna, with her sequinned crucifix, one cannot assume her values are strictly Christian or specifically Catholic. As this is the case, why the fuss about the necklace? Surely the rule should be nothing that distracts viewers - ie, anything discreet is permissible. I have no objection to the veil, as I am used to seeing this on newsreaders from Middle Eastern channels, but the importance should be the impartiality of the actual news content, as we all know each individual has their own viewpoint.

  • 86.
  • At 08:55 PM on 13 Oct 2006,
  • carl wrote:

Discreet religious symbols- yes
gratuitous religious symbols -no

-A crucifix is discreet.
-A Sikh's turban is required by his religion
-A "hijab"/headscarf is "considered" to be required by some muslim women as part of their religion

-Full veil - NO!!!!
-No burquahs thank you!
Last time I looked we lived in the UK not Saudia Arabia!

  • 87.
  • At 08:04 AM on 14 Oct 2006,
  • hirra wrote:

it obviously isn't a debate as i have just heard on the news that you disprove of women wearing veils if they were to present the news. You raise the issue of how silly this discussion about her necklace is but you still condone condeming the veil,there are plenty of muslim newsreaders accross satellite tv and i'm sure if it caused such abhorrent distress that they wouldn't still be doing it now. i know i would much rather see a veiled woman than a half naked one sttutering her lines out. with a face covered in slap, isn't that bad for effective communication.

  • 88.
  • At 10:11 AM on 14 Oct 2006,
  • J D Esquivel wrote:

If Fiona Bruce wears a Crucifix because of her believes this is an open expression of her Christian status. I would expect most presenters at the BBC to consider themselves Christians since the last government census demonstrated that 72% of the British population regard themselves as Christians. If there are less Christian BBC presenters than this, then the BBC is not representative of the country’s population.
The BBC should stop their anti-Christian attitudes and realize that after all the cultural basis of British society is mainly Christian.

  • 89.
  • At 07:54 PM on 14 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Where does this whole argument place Sally Magnuson? She presents the News (in Scotland, 6:30pm and other bulletins) and also Songs of Praise. Yet I would question anyone who would challenge her impartiality. What happend to common sense? A veiled newsreader would seem just daft, it being the visual television news! Of course I have no way of knowing if the newsreader on the radio is veiled or not!

  • 90.
  • At 04:37 PM on 15 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

I think it is absolutely ludicrous that there is even a debate on this topic. Why are we so frightened of offending people? Why should somoone be told what they can and can't do purely on the offchance that they MIGHT offend someone somewhere, especially when experience has taught us that those we are frightened of offending normally don't really care anyway.
Well I'm prepared to make a statement that it offends me as a Christian to learn that Fiona Bruce was asked to remove her crucifix, as I would imagine it would offend a muslim if a newsreader was asked to remove a scarf. I sincerely hope that Fiona stands her groud refuses to do what the BBC have so cowardly asked her to do.

  • 91.
  • At 12:35 PM on 16 Oct 2006,
  • Glenis wrote:

Should the fact that Christianity is the official religion of the UK not be taken into consideration?

Peter Horrocks has replied to some of these comments in a separate blog entry which is here.

  • 93.
  • At 01:52 PM on 16 Oct 2006,
  • Jasem wrote:

When are we going to stop? I wouldnt be surprised to find people calling for their newscasters to change their names because they're "very obviously Jewish/Muslim and hence could affect partiality". Why don't we start to refer to eachother as numbers from now on?

  • 94.
  • At 11:24 PM on 16 Oct 2006,
  • Umm Yusuf wrote:

As a headscarf wearer myself, i just want to let you know that the ONLY reason Muslim women wear it is to obey God's command to 'cover' oneself 'modestly' (a lot like nuns do in Christianity) and wearing a headscarf and 'modest clothing' is as obligatory for us as the 10 commandments might be to you -you can't just pick and choose which commandments suit your lifestyle and then claim to still be a fully practicing christain! Anyway once covered, we're as free to pursue whatever career we choose (and many 'covered' Muslim women do!) be that journalist, newsreader, brain surgeon or whatever.
So, to the issue of someone wearing a cross, personally, i think it's unnecessary as it is not 'obligatory' in Christianity for someone to do so. However, were a nun to choose to become a newreader i would be very upset if she were banned from being employed or if she were asked to remove her habit and compromise her personal religious beliefs simply do get the job of her choice! My view applies to Sikh men as well -if their religion requires them to wear a turban, then what right does anyone have to force them to give it up for a JOB! I'm all for equal job opportunity for the religious or irreligious -what should matter is CAN THEY DO THE JOB?!

  • 95.
  • At 01:47 AM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Bernard wrote:

The wearing of veil (niqab) is an unnatural attire, and can make people feel uncomfortable when interacting with somebody who is wearing one.

There is nothing Islamic about the wearing of a veil.

When Islam spread from the Arabian Peninsula into the Byzantine Empire the Muslims copied the practice from the Christians. In those days the Church teached that because Eve the temptress caused Adam to lose paradise, women had no soul and were evil, so they must be veiled from men in order to protect them from temptation.

Veiling was impractical for women working in the fields, so only the upper class women covered their faces. When Muslim women saw them they considered it a status symbol and imitated the practice.

Islam only mandates a head cover which leaves the face unveiled. So, as the niqab is only a fashion accessory, the whole issue has been brought about to cause trouble between races. Otherwise it would have been pointed out that the veil is not Islamic.

  • 96.
  • At 01:21 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • U. Yusuf wrote:

In response to Bernard (No. 94) i find it amazing that you can be so patronizing! So what you're saying is that millions of veiled Muslim women (not to mention Islamic scholars/historians/ Arabic grammarians etc) across the world are not only entirely ignorant of the faith that they practice but of history too?! As someone who has actually experienced what it is like to wear a veil i can tell you i didn't do it as a fashion statement! Do you really think that women in the Middle East for instance -where the temperature reaches 50*C -are going to subject themselves to such stifling attire merely as a fashion statement???!
Please will someone at the BBC quote a RELIABLE SELECTION OF MUSLIM SCHOLARS who can express the accurate understanding of why Muslims believe the veil to be obligatory and why others believe it to be optional so we can be spared the inaccurate supposition of people like Bernard!

  • 97.
  • At 08:40 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

The BBC was always lauded for its impartial view on the news. I am the worlds biggest proponant of freedom of expression while at the same time I abhor ALL religion. So, where does someone like me stand on this? Well, wearing a symbol of faith is not the same as wearing an article of religion. You can not argue that a cross is the same as a veil or a turban. A cross, for most branches of Christianity at least, is not required. However, it still symbolises religion and thus a religious viewpoint and therefore has no place in the news. However, on that note, can we trust a broadcaster who we know to be religious whether or not they wear symbols of that religion?

  • 98.
  • At 08:23 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Bob Cairncross wrote:

The Fiona Bruce's cross is a discreet presentation of her belief. The veil however, completely covers the face. This not only distracts and fails to deliver the body lanquage, it also muffles the sound making a discussion harder to listen to because the voice does not come over so easily.
There is a place for muslims to wear the veil but it is not on television or where clarity of speech is essential.
Regards

Free people In any free country are not in any way restricted from wearing a cross or any pendant with religious overtones.

No room for debate on this basic free right.

There could be some legitimate protest for those who choose to wear evil or offensive emblems like that of the KKK for instance. = TG

  • 100.
  • At 09:41 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Bernard wrote:

In reply to U. Yusuf (No 96). I am sorry but I do not deal in "inaccurate supposition". Also I did not post to upset anybody, although the truth does upset some people.

The Veil in Islam

Two verses of the Holy Quran deal with the basic concept of veil in Islam.

1. In Sura An-Nur the Quran says: “And tell the believing women to lower their gazes and be modest, and to display of their adornments only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms.”(24:31)

2. In Sura Al-Ahzab the Quran says: “O; Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them. That will be better, that so they may be recognized and not molested”. (33:59).

Nothing about veiling ones face. The Quran says to dress modestly and cover the bosums.

  • 101.
  • At 10:01 AM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Consider This wrote:

I find it ironic that western women demand the right to dress (or rather, undress) as they like in public and then complain that men are sexually harassing them! Now we have Muslim women in the west demanding the right to dress to the extent of covering their body and faces entirely and then men like Jack Straw are telling them to 'remove' articles of their clothing!!! When are western men going to realise that a woman's body is off bounds to ogle at unless explicitly stated otherwise?! When are we going to 'progress' to the point of judging a person by what they do/say rather than by the colour of their skin or the clothes they choose to wear?

  • 102.
  • At 12:14 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • James Donnelly wrote:

Peter Horrocks comments reflect the increasing pro -muslim stance of the BBC.This is reflected in the one -sided biased reporting on the middle east and terrorism in the UK.compared to sky and CNN who have much better coverage.
Does he think that banning crosses is going to stop Muslim terrorists planting bombs and mounting bio-chemical attacks in the UK.Before all this started no one really cared about wearing crosses.After all Peter we have freedom of expression.The BBC and its Pro-Muslim supporters havent yet managed to get rid of it.So you should consider your position and resign for trying to justify such a view

  • 103.
  • At 08:03 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • lisa elliott wrote:

The veil is not obligatory for moslem women as the koran does not demand it. What a shame that U.Yusef dosen't even know her own religious laws but prefers tradition to knowledge? Incidentally, why did you assume that Bernard was not a moslem, ignorance or predudice?

  • 104.
  • At 08:46 AM on 20 Oct 2006,
  • U. Yusuf wrote:

In response to Bernard (No 100). Well, i'm heartened to see that you've at least read the translation of the verses concerned. However, what you failed to point out is that when the Quran was revealed it came down verse by verse (not in the order we find it in the actual holy book today) over a period of 23 years.
Of the two verses that you pointed out, the first to be revealed (5 years after the hijra) was:
(O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, that so they may be recognized and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful) (Al-Ahzab 33:59). Islamic scholars debated the meaning of 'drawing the cloaks' round Muslim women and came to the conclusion that it meant to cover themselves from head to foot with the exception of their eyes. But then (6 years after the hijra), the following verse was revealed:
[And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their zeenah (charms, or beauty and ornaments) except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof] (An-Nur 24:31). Again, the Islamic scholars debated the meaning of 'What (must ordinarily) appear thereof' and came to the conclusion that it meant a woman's face, hands and rings.
The conclusion that the Islamic scholars drew from the above verses is that they were meant to show a gradualness in legislation i.e. from niqab-wearing to hijab-wearing. Hijab-wearing being mandatory for all women but niqab-wearing being optional and praiseworthy for those who choose to do so. This is the view of the majority of Muslim scholars today, although there are some who still believe that wearing the veil is obligatory.
To conclude, i just want to add that i too did not intend to cause offence by my exasperated tone before. It's just that we're living in the 21st century- Muslims are practically living on your doorstep, you rub shoulders with them on the tube, you can take a short plane or boat ride and be in a 'muslim country', we have satellite communication, not to mention the World Wide Web, we're fighting a WAR ON TERROR that is fast becoming a war on Muslims and for people -educated people- to still think that Muslim women want to wear the veil to 'hide their bruises' or as a form of 'oppression' or in subservience to men UTTERLY ASTOUNDS ME!!! Over 1400 years ago, the first verse of the Quran to be revealed was : 'READ!' - perhaps the world would be a more tolerant place if more of us did so?

  • 105.
  • At 02:53 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Umm Yusuf wrote:

In response to lisa elliot no.103:

Who is assuming what about who?

Bernard and I were debating whether the veil worn by some Muslim women is a religious requirement or not - I did not at any time state or assume anything about his personal religious beliefs. (If you were referring to my '10 commandment' post -it was written BEFORE Bernard's post and NOT addressed to him!).

As for my preferring 'tradition' over 'knowledge' -what tradition might that be? The good old English tradition of 'debating' or did you assume that because my name is 'Umm Yusuf' that I must be foriegn? 'Umm Yusuf' incidentally, is merely the respectful title that I am known by when in the Middle East. It translates as 'Mother of Joseph'. Afterall, English tradition does state: 'when in Rome...'!

As for being 'ignorant', well, according to my understanding there are two types of ignorance: simple and compound. Simply is curable -being when a person realizes that that their knowledge of a topic is limited and is willing to listen with an open-mind to someone who actually 'knows' (with proof) about that subject. Compound ignorance is incurable as it is when a person believes - without any proof - that something is true and is unwilling to listen to or entertain any oposing views. I believe, accordiing to the proof that i stated before, that some Muslim women believe the veil to be a religious obligation.

Lastly, about being prejudiced, I sincrely hope that I am not, especially as the Quran explicitly states: 'Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error...'(chapter 2, verse 256) Can the same be said of you?

  • 106.
  • At 05:14 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Gabrielle Hardman wrote:

I would be happy if moslem men also had to wear a veil-why only the women? This discriminates against women and men and assumes that men cannot be trusted to even see a woman without molesting her. What a load of discriminating rubbish!

  • 107.
  • At 10:33 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Louise Field wrote:

As a firm supporter and admirer of the BBC, freedom of expression is the form of attire I want. It is entirely appropriate for Fiona Bruce to wear her cross or any other religious symbol by any news reader, because the lack of censure reiterates the BBC's values and honours the BBC, rather that discrediting it.

  • 108.
  • At 01:48 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • John Lambert wrote:

impatiality is an ilusion wheather you want them to appear impatial or not there still going to be out about you start requiring that everyone working in this organization where a uniform to work that would fix everything just make everyone the same while the editors still remain biased whatyou need to do is alow them to where what ever there religion asks of them or what ever makes them confurtable within boundries

  • 109.
  • At 01:51 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • John Lambert wrote:

impatiality is an ilusion wheather you want them to appear impatial or not there still going to be out about you start requiring that everyone working in this organization where a uniform to work that would fix everything just make everyone the same while the editors still remain biased whatyou need to do is alow them to where what ever there religion asks of them or what ever makes them confurtable within boundries

  • 110.
  • At 06:59 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Toks wrote:

Why all this controversy over a cross the size of a 5p piece.......We
all know its only Vampires and Ghouls that hate and flee the Power represented by a Crucifix.

  • 111.
  • At 09:50 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Adam, Wraxall wrote:

I offer for consideration three potential measures that could, at a stroke, obviate any further occurence of this or similar problems:
One. There should be no further pictures as television has not lived up to expectations and should cease transmission forthwith.
Second. The standard uniform for BBC Announcers on the Wireless, for that is what would remain after closing down the failed television experiment, should revert to the previous compulsory full evening dress.
Third. A return to the traditional view that newsreadingis an all-male preserve.
Viewing figures would of course plummet, but the listening audience would, I suspect, increase!

  • 112.
  • At 11:12 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • john weaver wrote:

total impartiality in attire is quite appropriate.

  • 113.
  • At 12:24 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

Simple point but one I feel is worth making wearing a crucifix is not the same as wearing a cross, the crucifix could be and is offensive to many Christians in this country.

The cross may be almost univerisally accepted by all denominations (I think the JW's do buy it though but I could be wrong) but the crucifix certainly is not.

The important thing apparently, in the words of the no doubt mythical Ozzie shop assitant, is whether the cross is with (crucifix) our without the little man.

The Christian faith is a minefield of such bizarre and on the face of it trivial distinctions, that despite their trivial nature, sadly often these "good christian folk" are willing to kill each other about.

That equally, fairly minor distinctions in practice and belief in Islam can result in mass murder is daily witnessed in the appaling sectarian violence currently happening in Iraq.

Although I am in no way a bleeding heart liberal I am generally all for tolerance.
I only wish the same was true for many religous folk.

For many in the religous world freedom of expression seems to mean the right to shove their fews down everybody elses throats and impose their restrictions on everybody else.

It always amuses me that Christians who claim to have read and understood the bible seem to miss the message that its up to God to punish those who offend God.
For the rest of us mortals, however strongly we believe we are his elect, representative on earth etc, is it not a case of "Judge not least you be judged".


  • 114.
  • At 10:16 AM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Dave Parker wrote:

The news is no place for presenters to flaunt their affiliation to bizarre ancient death cults. Why anyone should feel so attached to an instrument of slow execution is beyond me - what'll it be next, electric-chair necklaces? It's time such superstitious rubbish was off our screens, off our streets and above all out of our schools.

  • 115.
  • At 07:43 AM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • wong wrote:

everyone !!grow up!!!
it's the news that we are after not the newsreader.
for me, it doesn't matter.
Personally, i'm a christian and i don't even wear a cross at all.so does that count that i'm not a christian??
BBC should just be honest and deliver the truth..that's all that counts.
Just ignore those people who gets overly offended as i think they are immatures.

  • 116.
  • At 03:55 PM on 01 Dec 2006,
  • Graham Foulkes wrote:

I find it incredible that a news editor of the BBC should suggest that extremist organisations be given any air time let alone equal time for the real parties ( what ever they are ! )

  • 117.
  • At 12:52 AM on 02 Dec 2006,
  • Keith wrote:

I think it would be ludicrous for the BBC to have any kind of "policy" on clothing or jewellery. I do, however, want to get my news from an organisation that isn't lopsidedly dominated by any one "faction". Whether that be pretty blondes wearing crucifixes (a nightmarish reminder of tortuous suffering and death for Jesus himself and for countless millions later) or faceless women hidden under veils (I have no idea why the women's movement is so quiet on this issue).
So let's be realistic and have them all -- skullcaps, crosses, veils, turbans, sackcloth, ashes, fish stickers, you name it.
As long as the news, and the analysis and a few outright atheists percolate through too.

  • 118.
  • At 12:26 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • nick delta wrote:

Isn't an upside cross an anti-christ symbol?

  • 119.
  • At 03:53 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • James Saint wrote:

We should all be more concerned with Fiona's technicoloured dream-dress, which I find to be much more offensive than any tiny pendant worn around her neck!

  • 120.
  • At 05:16 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

In light of Fiona Bruce's comments in the interview about her cross having actually NOT been banned (and not having even been a crucifix!), doesn't it now show up how pathetic our tabloid press is in screeching all the reactionary bile that they do, in order to stoke up the flames of division in our country?

The Mail, Express, et al positively revelled in whipping their readers up into a frenzy of anti-PC outrage back in October, doing what they always do and playing on fears and ignorances in an utterly calculated way. (If you recall, this story emerged around about the same time as the veil "debate" and a whole slew of prominent anti-Muslim stories)

Reading the original tabloid articles on the internet, and the subsequent reader comments ("dear oh dear... more evidence that PC has gone mad... whatever next... etc etc) just shows how these papers operate and how easy it is to "press peoples buttons"!!

As with the so-called "Christmas is banned"-type headlines we see each year - when you study it, the vast majority of what they describe is ultimately self-perpetuating nonsense. It's about time they were called to account on it.

  • 121.
  • At 11:26 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Philip wrote:

For my mind the most annoying thing about Fiona Bruce relates to the time someone told her to start grinning like a Cheshire Cat when reading the news.

I'm sure she wasn't like that when she started out. Presenters like Anna Ford and Martha Kearney don't do it. News is meant to be serious, it isn't meant to be another 'lifestyle' programme.

She certainly shouldn't be told or even advised not to wear a cross.

  • 122.
  • At 08:28 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • gordon anderson wrote:

I am shocked and stunned! It seems very clear to this sober an serious observer that Fiona is in fact wearing an inverted crucifix!
It is therefore clear that devil worshippers are taking over the BBC!
Ah well - at least that will be moew interesting thna all the current crap being talked about religious subtle differences about how to worship the same God.

  • 123.
  • At 11:18 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • GUY FOX wrote:

WHAT ABOUT TATTOOS? COULD I BECOME A NEWES-READER IF I HAD A DUCK TATTOOED TO MY FOREHEAD.

I BELIEVE IN DUCKS. NO DOUBT THEY WROTE THE BIBLE AND THE QURAN... BECAUSE SUCH BOOKS CONTAIN HUGE AMOUNTS OF QUACKERY.

  • 124.
  • At 08:21 PM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • becky wrote:

I am getting sick of this. Sick and tired of the Politically Correct Brigade dictating people's lives.
Next we will be banning christmas because it may upset those who celebrate ramadan.

Muslims, Sikhs and so on, I am sure they will get rather upset to know this sort of behaviour is being done on their behalf.

You know if a newsreader on any channel is not allowed to wear a cross then by rights they would have to ban anyone wearing a headscarf or turban. If that happened, the human rights people will be down on them like a tonne of bricks.

Bigwigs need to get back some perspective and start concentrating on what is important in the news.

I am not religious but repect other peoples religions. I do not care whether someone wears a cross, a turban or a jedi-knight cloak, providing they do their job properly.

  • 125.
  • At 11:13 AM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • jacqui wrote:

Crosses.
As a so call democratic christian country, prepared to tolerate all. It is about time the worm turned. The quite English way, will no longer stand. We must all be prepared to shout as loud as the muslims. Let them know that toleration comes at a price. Accept us and our views and we will accept all other views and take into consideration their religious needs. But HOME comes first in all things.

  • 126.
  • At 01:42 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • Andy G wrote:

When oh when are we going to stop kowtowing to The 'Minorities' for heaven sake. Christianity (in its various forms)is THE 1,000 + year old religion of this country. I am very sorry but if people can't put up with that then the ports/airports are ready for your business.

I apologise for being white, English, male, C of E and hetrosexual because we are not allowed an opinion.

AG

  • 127.
  • At 10:44 AM on 19 Dec 2006,
  • Ted Greenhalgh wrote:

My suggestion is that we should all switch to the wireless. Most television progrmmes are full of padding and idiotic graphics. I watched Newsnight last night only to see correspondents appearing out of oil splashes and speed cameras flashing every time some particular point was made. They even had the obligatory speeded up shot. I turned it off.

As for the crucifix; Fiona Bruce should continue to wear it if that is what she wants to do. I doubt whether I would have noticed.

  • 128.
  • At 08:46 AM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Jane Hoult wrote:

In todays secular society is the Cross still an enduring symbol of faith or is it just a piece of jewellry?

  • 129.
  • At 02:22 PM on 15 Jun 2007,
  • chets wrote:

Jane has a point - the cross is a bit of a fashion accessory. Anything worn as jewellery is IMHO

As for Andy ( post 126) Apology accepted although i don't really see how your fustration relates to this article!


  • 130.
  • At 03:02 PM on 16 Jun 2007,
  • Sofia wrote:

I think it is sad that wearing a cross has been played down so much that it is considered as a fashion accessory. The media has created such a hectic image of all religions that it seems now that to even talking about religion is banned. I thought England was supposed to be a Christian country who likes to stand up to it's Britishness? Where is the Christianity? Clearly it is nothing but hypocritical.

  • 131.
  • At 03:57 AM on 18 Jun 2007,
  • David / London wrote:

I really do not see what the fuss is all about!
This is still a nominally Christian country (the Queen is still head of the C-of-E, and the C-of-E is still the 'Established Church' of England).
Any immigrants who come to this country must surely know this and should therefore accept & respect that.
If Christians want to wear external symbols of their Faith in a Christian country, then any attempt to deny them that right amounts to religious bigotry & discrimination on behalf of those trying to enforce that.
For goodness sake, do you really think Asian or Arab TV stations would ban their presenters from wearing religious attire or symbols because of a small minority of Christians in their countries??? Of Course Not!
Come-on BBC, get your act together and stop bending over so far backwards to accommodate vocal & sometimes violent minorities and foreigners that you end up discriminating against the majority!
I enjoy Hardeep Singh Kohli's contributions to Broadcasting - would the BBC insist on him removing his Turban ?? Of Course Not!
Would you ban Sikh newsreaders on the BBC on the basis that "Any religious clothing or insignia they wear could make some viewers question their impartiality."
You'd be in Court before you could say 'Racial Discrimination'!
Let Hardeep continue to wear his turban and let Fiona continue to wear her Cross, or else you are letting yourselves wide open to legal action!

  • 132.
  • At 05:46 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Nimo Hassan wrote:

In my opinion I do not see a problem with Fiona Bruce wearing a piece of jewellery, which identifies her religion. As long as she is doing her job proberly. I mean it is like you being banned from expressing your religion, which in a way is actually racial. Over the months I have strongly bonded with the subject english. Which I did not normally like before and now it is strongly my favourite subject and since then I have thought of becoming a newsreader, but as a 15 year old muslim girl. My dream of becoming a newsreader
has been destroyed because of religious symbols being banned while performing the news. I mean if i was to be a newsreader and wear a hijab I would not see this as a problem as long as I was to do my job correctly .

  • 133.
  • At 07:41 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Robert Glen wrote:

On a lighter note.Can anyone tell me when BBC News readers stopped wearing
evening suits,bow-ties and all?

  • 134.
  • At 08:10 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Latif Abdul wrote:

When we watch news on tv its quite different than the news on Radio. It's not only the voice which makes a TV news more affective but newsreaders facial expression too. I do not feel wearing a veil and reading news will be an affective way on TV. I am Muslim too but i do feel its absolutely inaffective way of news on TV. In how many Muslim countries newsreaders wear Veil? If fiona wears a crucifix it doesn't interfare with her facial expression, if a jew wears a skull cap it doesn't stop his facial expression, if a sikh wears a turban his facial expression is always there. But if a newsreader wears a veil then it will kill the soul of tv news. We will be again in that era when there used to be only BBC radio news.

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.