Channel 4 to air daily Muslim call to prayer during Ramadan

Channel 4 is to air the Muslim call to prayer live every morning during the month of Ramadan. The broadcaster said it was an act of “deliberate provocation” aimed at viewers who might associate Islam with extremism. The headline-grabbing move will see Channel 4 broadcast the three-minute call to prayer at about 3am for 30 days from the start of Ramadan on 9 July. Channel 4 will also interrupt programming four times on the first day of Ramadan to mark subsequent calls by means of a 20-second film to remind viewers of the approaching prayer time. After that date, the channel will air the 3am call to prayer on live TV, and the other four prayer times will be broadcast on its website.

 

Ralph Lee, Channel 4’s head of factual programming, said: “The calls to prayer prompt Muslims to carry out quiet moments of worship, but hopefully they’ll also make other viewers sit up and notice that this event is taking place.

 

“Observing the adhan on Channel 4 will act as a nationwide tannoy system, a deliberate ‘provocation’ to all our viewers in the very real sense of the word.”

 

The Muslim Council of Britain supported Channel 4’s move.

 

The film, made by production company Watershed, will “feature a range of voices, from imams to architects, feminists to a former rock chick, each providing some serious Ramadan food for thought”.

 

But it is not without discussion from within the community:

 

Nabil Ahmed: ‘This is an opportunity to learn’. There could not be a better time to try to understand Islam than during Ramadan. Muslims believe that Ramadan is primarily about one’s relationship with God, and the effort to live in accordance with a divinely ordained order. It is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed, which Muslims believe is God’s final revelation to mankind. It is thus also the month in which Muhammad was sent to warn humanity of future dangers, as a bringer of glad tidings and as a conduit of God’s mercy. TV should be a medium in which we share our understanding of faith in Britain. Ramadan seeks to reawaken our consciousness of God, but also teaches us to give to the poor and to practise self-discipline in relation to our ego and with material temptations. Fasting is a means, not an end, to reconnect with our divine purpose by not relying on food and drink. Channel 4’s approach is an opportunity for all of us to learn – and to put aside preconceived ideas.

 

Nesrine Malik: ‘To reduce it to a media gimmick is exploitative’. Apparently, there is an urgent need, post-Woolwich in particular, to show that Islam is a religion of peace and sacrifice. This is an inherently contradictory stance. If there is such a charged atmosphere in the UK vis a vis Islam, why “provoke” people by projecting this message even more loudly? It all rather smacks of busy-bodying do-goodery. Even on Arab Muslim satellite channels, only the national ones broadcast the call to prayer, with others merely showing a ticker along the bottom of the screen to indicate sunset and iftar times. Channel 4’s idea might be well-intentioned, but it also seems spurred on by the fact that Islam has become the latest topic of media sensation, to be turned into a spectacle under the guise of “debate” and furthering understanding. The way to do this isn’t to project the call to prayer five times a day in a cultural vacuum. It is instead to resist particularising the Muslim experience by attempting to mainstream it by putting some British Muslim faces in front of the camera as something other than religious curiosities to be examined. Reducing it to a media gimmick is exploitative and an unwise, crude way to promote a sensible discussion.

 

Channel 4 was warned not to give excessive coverage to Ramadan. Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “I wouldn’t object to it as at least it gives some balance to the BBC’s emphasis on Christianity but Channel 4 has to keep it in proportion.

 

At Ramadan dinner, Obama calls Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, a ‘patriot’

President Obama on Friday voiced strong support for Huma Abedin, saying the top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been “nothing less than extraordinary in representing our country and the democratic values that we hold dear.”

Obama praised Abedin during remarks at a White House iftar dinner to mark the end of the fasting during the Ramadan holiday observed by Muslims. Abedin has been subject to unproven accusations by some House Republicans, including Michelle Bachmann (Minn.), that she is part of a conspiracy by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the top reaches of the U.S. government.

The president called Abedin an “American patriot” and added that the public owes her “a debt of gratitude” because she is “an example of what we need in this country — more public servants with her sense of decency, her grace and her generosity of spirit.”

In his remarks, Obama said diversity “makes us Americans,” but he warned that tolerance for such diversity is “threatened.”

Bachmann and four colleagues have sent letters to inspectors general at the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State asking about the U.S. government’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood, noting that the group calls for “civilization jihad.

Bachmann has been criticized by some legislators in her own party, including Sen John McCain (Ariz.), who said Abedin “represents what is best about America: the daughter of immigrants, who has risen to the highest levels of our government on the basis of her substantial personal merit and her abiding commitment to the American ideals that she embodies so fully.”

Thomas Jefferson held the first known White House Iftar in 1805, a sunset dinner in honor of Tunisia’s envoy in Washington.

Ramadan Festival Discontinued in the Netherlands

2 August 2011

 

Several media outlets note the start of Ramadan and its influence for the daily lives of Muslims in the Netherlands and abroad. Although for the past six years the country has celebrated Ramadan with a festival designed to counter stereotypes about Muslims and build relations with non-Muslims, the events will not occur this year. In the past the festival involved sponsored iftar dinners, which “local authorities no longer have the budget to fund”. Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a photographic overview of Ramadan, and notes that “people in the Middle East are experiencing this year’s Ramadan in quite a different way” given unrest in Syria, Tunisia and Egypt.

President Obama issues statement on Ramadan

President Obama released a statement Monday marking Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. The president also noted that he will again host a traditional iftar, a breaking of the fast that occurs after sunset.

“As Ramadan begins, Michelle and I would like to send our best wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world. Ramadan is a festive time that is anticipated for months by Muslims everywhere….And here in the United States, Muslim Americans share Ramadan traditions with their neighbors, fellow students, and co-workers….

Muslims to Hold Interfaith 9/11 Vigil Outside White House

On September 11, 2009, the American Muslim Voice Foundation, along with interfaith groups and community organizations, will host a “Light the Night for Peace and Friendship” candle-light vigil and Ramadan fast-breaking meal (iftar) outside the White House in memory of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.

A press conference announcing the vigil and iftar will be held 11 a.m. September 10 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.

Speakers: Rev. Dr. David Ensign, pastor, Clarendon Presbyterian Church, Arlington, Va., and Christian Peace Witness, Medea Benjamin, Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Co-Founder of Code Pink, Rabbi David Shneyer. Bill Galvin, National Committee of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. (His children lost their uncle on Sept. 11-He worked in the World Trade Center.) Samina Sundas, Founding Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice

More information available here.

Travelling Iftar Dinners Bring Together Muslims and Non-Muslims

Thousands of non-Muslims are to dine with Muslim families during the month of Ramadan as part of an intercultural dialogue festival in the Netherlands. The dinners are a central component of the Ramadan Festival, which has staged public events throughout the month of Ramadan in several Dutch cities for the past five years. The festival has seen overwhelming public response and is supported by, among others, the Chamber of Commerce and the Amsterdam municipality.

Hospitality iftar dinners were initially offered by Muslims who invited non-Muslims to their homes in small gatherings because “most non-Muslims have never had dinner with Muslims or vice versa,” Aicha Lagha, chairwoman of the Ramadan Festival, told DPA. With increasing interest, those who want to join an iftar dinner can now apply for a seat at the festival website, where Muslims can also sign up as hosts for others. And this year an iftar caravan, a bus decorated in the famous traditional Dutch Delft-blue colors, will travel from town to town to offer iftars to thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims.

Bush Says U.S. Stands With Muslims

The United States has a proud history of standing with Muslims and “mainstream citizens across the broader Middle East,” President Bush said Thursday during a dinner to mark the end of the daily fast during Ramadan. Speaking to about 90 attendees during the White House’s annual iftar dinner marking the occasion, Bush said the United States has supported Muslims seeking liberty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon and has stood with Muslims across the world facing hardship. He said violent extremists do not represent Islam. “They believe that by spreading chaos and violence they can frustrate the desire of Muslims to live in freedom and peace. We say to them, you don’t represent Muslims, you do not represent Islam – and you will not succeed,” Bush told the attendees, who included Muslim leaders and ambassadors, as well as first lady Laura Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.