Islam Channel breaks British broadcast rules, regulator says

8 November 2010

Britain’s Islam Channel broke broadcasting regulations by condoning marital rape, encouraging violence against women, and promoting an anti-Israel, pro-Hamas line, the country’s broadcast regulator Ofcom ruled Monday.
One violation came during an advice program in which a female caller asked if a woman could hit her husband back if he was beating her. The host, as part of his answer, said the most a husband could do was hit her with a stick the size of a pen “just to make her feel that you are not happy with her.”
The same host said in another program that for a woman to wear perfume when praying in a mosque made her a prostitute in the eyes of the Prophet Mohammed. Another violation took place in a discussion about an Afghan law that, critics say, allows men to rape their wives. “To refuse relations would harm a marriage,” a guest on the program said.
The Islam Channel “does not condone or encourage violence toward women under any circumstances,” the broadcaster told Ofcom during the investigation.

UK’s Islam Channel TV chief insists: “We are not extremists”

The Islam Channel, which is watched regularly by three in every five British Muslims despite allegations that it panders to extremism, is aiming to expand its services to other countries where it feels there is a need to counter negative coverage by western media.

In the cases of three countries with large Muslim populations – Malaysia, Nigeria and Kenya – the channel plans to begin by providing programs already available to viewers in the UK, according to the channel’s chief executive, Mohammed Ali Harrath.

Mr Harrath said “extensive negotiations” were also in progress to launch transmissions in North America – he did not specify whether the United States or Canada, or both – with immediate use of locally produced content.

After accusation of a Quilliam Foundation report that Islam Channel showed extremist programs, Harrath replied: “We do not promote extremism at all. What they qualify as extremism may be something else. If someone is opposed to abortion, are you going to say that is extremism? If a trade union argues for better conditions for workers, do you accuse it of promoting Karl Marx, and Lenin, or communist ideology?”

UK Muslim TV channel linked to al-Qaida cleric al-Awlaki

Islam Channel, a London-based satellite broadcaster, has been accused with providing a platform for Anwar al-Awlaki, an extremist cleric with ties to al-Qaida, Major Hasan of the Fort Hood shooting, and Abdulmutallab, who recently tried to blow up a plane on a flight to Detroit. Islam Channel is said to have advertised a box set of DVDs of Awlaki’s sermons and events at which he was supposed to speak. Furthermore, the channel’s website facilitates download of other Awlaki sermons, such as “Stop Police Terror”, “Brutality Towards Muslims” and “It’s a War against Islam”.

Islam Channel is the largest Islamic program airing in the UK, claiming to be “the voice of authority for Muslims in the UK”. The channel denies having given a platform to Awlaki and removed the links on the website. Many Muslim scholars have expressed concern, such as Dr. Irfan al-Alawi of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism, who fears that young people might get radicalized or Maajid Nawaz, a former presenter on the Islam Channel who is now director of the counter-extremism thinktank Quilliam and who attributes the channel to have a large influence, and with that, responsibility.

Muslim TV channel stages interfaith game show

Britain’s first interfaith game show is to be launched, pitting Jews against Muslims, Sikhs against Christians and Hindus against Buddhists, with contestants competing for cash prizes. Faith Off, the working title of a series on the Islam Channel, will attempt to promote good relations and mutual respect between Britain’s religious communities. Two teams of four will go head to head in each episode, answering quick-fire and general knowledge questions in the eight-part series hosted by the Muslim comedian Jeff Mirza. There will be a multiple choice current affairs segment in addition to a home or away round, where contestants can answer questions on their own faith or the opposing team’s for further points. Players will also have to identify religious figures, such as the Dalai Lama and the Pope, from blurred footage. The programme is likely to have all the elements of a traditional gameshow – a garish set, flashing lights, puns and loud buzzers – plus the added twist of headscarves, turbans and yarmulkes. Participants in the show, the makers say, will have varying degrees of knowledge. Some of the contestants responded directly to online adverts on Muslim websites, while others were found via the Islam Channel’s networks. The show is not aimed at theologians or scholars, said its producer, Abrar Hussain, who also produced the programme Model Mosque, a national competition to find Britain’s best mosque. Hussain said: “We’re living in a multifaith, multicultural society. I know a bit about Christianity but nothing about Judaism.

Ridley wins payout from Islam Channel

Former Sunday Express journalist Yvonne Ridley has won a case for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination against The Islam Channel. The three-person tribunal panel ruled that Ridley had been dismissed by the digital channel and upheld her complaint of sexual discrimination and harassment. Her case, which was part-funded by the NUJ, was held in London in February and heard evidence from a number of figures in support of her claims including the Respect MP George Galloway. Ridley, who resigned from the channel in April last year, complained that she had effectively been dismissed after relations between her and the channel’s chief executive, Mohammed Ali broke, down. The tribunal ruling, on Thursday, April 17, said: “There is nothing in the statutory wording that suggests that the facts of this case should not lead a tribunal to the conclusion that the claimant’s dignity had been violated, on the basis that the words were spoken to an outsider. We find that the words had the purpose of violating her dignity because they were false.” Ridley was also found to have been unfairly dismissed by the tribunal, which ruled that the way she was treated was “riddled with unfairness” and that she was subjected to “a wholesale approach of seeking to blame her at various points”. Ben Dowell

UK’s first magazine for Muslim women to be launched

Britain’s first magazine aimed at Muslim women, {Sisters}, is to be launched as a printed publication next Saturday. The magazine will be launched in-style by editor Na’ima B. Robert and her team at the Global Peace and Unity event, sponsored by Islam Channel, at Excel in London.

Faith meets reality TV in contest to find the best mosque in Britain

There are no nasty judges, booing crowds, tearful auditions or backstabbing. But the competition is just as tough. Eight mosques are vying to become Britain’s Model Mosque 2007 in a televised competition which marries halal principles with the knock-out rules of reality TV. The series, shown tonight on the Islam Channel, is not a beauty pageant, as aesthetics are not important. Instead, mosques are assessed on their interfaith work, women’s facilities, youth services and their transparency on finances, policies and management. Riazat Butt reports.