No permission for ‘Modi Not Welcome’ image on UK parliament

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Mar 09, 2016 15:33 IST
Photo of “Modi Not Welcome” image projected on British Parliament in October last year. (Awaaz UK)

Authorities responsible for Britain’s parliament on Monday warned groups and marketing and advertising professionals that they could face prosecution for guerrilla projections on the iconic buildings such as the “Modi Not Welcome” image.

“Modi Not Welcome”, with an image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was one of the recent projections on the buildings. It was done by the campaign group Awaaz UK in October, days before his visit to London and made headlines.

But authorities said the buildings are not “not free billboards” for publicity.

Referring to the “Modi Not Welcome” image, a parliamentary spokesperson told Hindustan Times on Monday: “The House of Commons did not give permission for this image to be projected onto the Houses of Parliament.”

Lee Bridges, director of External Communications at the House of Commons, said, “These buildings are not free billboards – proposals to project commercial campaigns that are not in the national interest will not be granted permission. The council can pursue incidents where a projection has been made without its permission.”

The projection depicted Modi holding a sword in one hand and a shield with the Om symbol with a swastika superimposed. Above it were the letters “Modi Not Welcome”.

The spokesperson added: “As a much-loved public building and international symbol of the United Kingdom, it is important that the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and other parliamentary buildings can be enjoyed by citizens and visitors alike and their symbolic status protected.”

Several guerrilla marketing projections on the buildings since the late 1990s have been noted.

“Having commercial messaging beamed on to them compromises this symbolic status, which is why there are planning laws requiring permissions to be granted before any projection is allowed,” the spokesperson added.

To legally project on to the Houses of Parliament, requestors need permission from the speaker of the House of Commons and the planning department of Westminster City Council.

Bridges said the Houses of Parliament, famed for their stunning Gothic architecture, are part of a Unesco World Heritage Site and need to be enjoyed as such.

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