‘Free-speech’ demonstrators picket the BBC for censoring the word ‘Palestine’

By Iram Ramzan

Angry protestors demonstrated outside Manchester’s BBC office on Saturday morning to voice their concerns over the censorship of the word ‘Palestine’ from a rap song.

The BBC came under attack after the words “free Palestine” were edited out of a performance by rapper Mic Righteous on a 1Xtra show that was originally aired in December, but appeared again in a best-of show at the end of April with the political statement edited out.

Saira Hussain, 23, of Amnesty International, who organised the event, felt the BBC’s censorship of the word ‘Palestine’ was a violation of Article 19 of the Human Rights Act.

She said: “We support free speech. First, we want an apology from the BBC and second, to make people aware of human rights. I would not see them censoring the word Israel.”

Sam, of We Are Change, said that their group was not necessarily in agreement with everything said by the Pro-Palestinian supporters, but they were there to support freedom of speech and freedom of expression and that everyone should be worried, not just people who support Palestine.

Nasima Begum, 19, from Burnage, said: “I’m outraged. This country is a democracy and our corporation is censoring words. It is pretty sad and pathetic.”

Shannon Major, 20, from Luton, said: It’s disgusting. We need to stand up against it and we are not going to be controlled.”

The BBC press office, in response to the demonstration, said: “All BBC programmes have a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects and an edit was made to Mic Righteous’ freestyle to ensure that impartiality was maintained.”

Pro Israel organisations did not comment.

Members of Stop the War Coalition were also present. It was revealed later that the demonstration was short of protestors, as they were counter-protesting in Dewsbury against an EDL march.

One of the protestors was given several warnings from a police officer for holding a sign that was allegedly in breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act.

Some of the demonstrators quarrelled with the officer in question, claiming that this was breaching their freedom of speech.

More officers were called to the scene, but there were no further escalations.

The organisers of the event had formed a petition, containing 150 names, demanding an apology, which was then given to an official from the BBC.

Saira Hussain said that there would be a follow up next week.

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