Terror bill worries comic

Atkinson fears religious satire in jeopardy

LONDON — “Bean” star Rowan Atkinson has taken the British government to task over new legislation the comedian said could make it illegal to satirize religion.

The government unveiled a number of anti-terrorist proposals Monday — including protection for minority groups — by outlawing “incitement to religious hatred.”

But in a letter to The Times newspaper, Atkinson warned that “laws governing highly subjective or moral issues tend to drag a very fine net, and some of the most basic freedoms of speech and expression can get caught up in it.”

Atkinson said he had often parodied religious figures in his career and that the proposed new law might not tolerate the likes of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” (1979) or “that excellent joke in ‘Not The Nine O’Clock News’ all those years ago, showing worshippers in a mosque simultaneously bowing to the ground with the voiceover: ‘And the search goes on for the Ayatollah Khomeini’s contact lens.’ ”

A number of other prominent Brits, such as satirist Mark Thomas, have seconded Atkinson’s concerns.

More News

  • Mandatory Credit: Photo by Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9243328q)From

    Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Restaurant Critic, Dies at 57

    LONDON — “Bean” star Rowan Atkinson has taken the British government to task over new legislation the comedian said could make it illegal to satirize religion. The government unveiled a number of anti-terrorist proposals Monday — including protection for minority groups — by outlawing “incitement to religious hatred.” But in a letter to The Times […]

  • Man in the High Castle

    Amazon Renews 'The Man in the High Castle' for Season 4

    LONDON — “Bean” star Rowan Atkinson has taken the British government to task over new legislation the comedian said could make it illegal to satirize religion. The government unveiled a number of anti-terrorist proposals Monday — including protection for minority groups — by outlawing “incitement to religious hatred.” But in a letter to The Times […]

  • 'Supergirl,' 'Arrow' Producers Stars Talk New

    'Supergirl,' 'Arrow' Producers Stars Talk New Cast Members, Showrunners

    LONDON — “Bean” star Rowan Atkinson has taken the British government to task over new legislation the comedian said could make it illegal to satirize religion. The government unveiled a number of anti-terrorist proposals Monday — including protection for minority groups — by outlawing “incitement to religious hatred.” But in a letter to The Times […]

  • Trader Joe's Silver Lake Shooting Ends

    Update: One Dead in Trader Joe's Shooting; Suspect in Custody

    LONDON — “Bean” star Rowan Atkinson has taken the British government to task over new legislation the comedian said could make it illegal to satirize religion. The government unveiled a number of anti-terrorist proposals Monday — including protection for minority groups — by outlawing “incitement to religious hatred.” But in a letter to The Times […]

  • Josh Holloway Colony

    USA Network Cancels 'Colony' After Three Seasons

    LONDON — “Bean” star Rowan Atkinson has taken the British government to task over new legislation the comedian said could make it illegal to satirize religion. The government unveiled a number of anti-terrorist proposals Monday — including protection for minority groups — by outlawing “incitement to religious hatred.” But in a letter to The Times […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content