Baby pigs...offensive? (illustration)
Baby pigs...offensive? (illustration) Thinkstock

British politicians on Thursday criticized publisher Oxford University Press over its advice to omit pigs and sausages from books for children sold abroad, in a politically correct attempt not to "offend" the Muslim or Jewish communities.

The existence of the recommendations was revealed during a debate on BBC Radio 4 on freedom of expression in the wake of the attack against magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris last week, in which Islamist terrorists murdered 12 for "vengeance" after the paper published a cartoon of Mohammed.

Presenter Jim Naughtie read out a letter sent from Oxford University Press (OUP) to an author warning not to include "pigs plus sausages, or anything else which could be perceived as pork" in their book.

The move meant not to "offend" Muslims comes after British Sky Newsrefused to show Charlie Hebdo's latest cover that features Mohammed, in a surprising act of censorship that comes as world media has in general rallied to support freedom of speech after the attack.

When contacted by AFP, an OUP spokesman stressed the publisher did not have "a blanket ban on pigs or pork products" in its titles.

But he added: "We provide guidance to authors on a range of areas that might cause offense in specific markets. This does, amongst other things, include advice around the use of images of pigs."

The initiative sparked angry reactions in Britain, whose children are brought up watching animated television series "Peppa Pig."

Conservative MP Philip Davies asked: "How on earth can anyone find the word 'pig' or 'pork' offensive? We have got to get a grip on this nonsensical political correctness."

The criticism bridged political and religious gaps, as Muslim Labor MP Khalid Mahmood also called the guidelines "absolute utter nonsense."

A spokesman for the Jewish Leadership Council explained that Jewish law only prohibited eating pork, "not the mention of the word, or the animal from which it derives."

AFP contributed to this report.