I see that Channel 4 is at it again. Always keen to promote debate in society, the channel is to a broadcast the daily Muslim call to prayer during the holy month of Ramadan, beginning next Tuesday July 9. The announcement was made by the channel’s head of factual programming Ralph Lee who said he hoped the channel would be a ‘nationwide tannoy system’ for UK Muslims and would promote a move away from associating Islam with extremism and terrorism.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown during which they are prohibited from consuming all food. It is similar to the Christian season of Lent during which believers focus their minds more sharply on God and spiritual matters in disciplined manner. For many of the 2.8 million Muslims living in Britain, observing the fast is an important time and a matter of serious devotion.
Media reaction to the Channel 4 decision has been mixed. Writing in the Daily Mail, A.N.Wilson accused the channel of promoting social division:
“Are we sure that by broadcasting a call to prayer in this way that it wants to help Muslims? Or is it — much more likely in my opinion — yet another case of the liberal establishment, of which Channel 4 is, of course, the mouthpiece, sticking its fingers in the eye of Christianity?
In so doing, by using Islam as a deliberate provocation, it is being socially divisive and possibly making Muslims a target for extreme Right-wing vitriol. Further to that, it is all part of the anti-Christian bias of the intellectual establishment.”
In the SUN, Muslim writer Anila Baig condemned the announcement and accused Channel 4 of ‘worshipping controversy’ at a time when actions were required to promote good community relations: “So, do I agree with it? Not at all. According to Ralph Lee, Channel 4’s head of factual programming, the broadcast is an act of deliberate “provocation”. Ain’t that the truth.
This is the channel that recently aired ‘Dogging Tales’ and ‘The Man With The 10-Stone Testicles’........With the killing of soldier Lee Rigby and a number of retaliatory attacks on mosques across the country, this is the sort of provocation we can all do without. The world doesn’t need more provocation, it needs more understanding.”
The Archbishop Cranmer blog condemned Channel 4 for its broadcasting ‘double standards’ where there is one rule for the treatment of Christians and another for other faiths and none.
“They could, of course, broadcast a service or two from within a mosque, as they might do from a church for Christians at Easter or Christmas. They could make a documentary or two about the origins of Ramadan, as they might do about Lent. They could even 'cater' for millions of Muslims by mocking their religion and lampooning Mohammed, as they habitually seem to do for Christians and the character of Jesus.”
It’s time the broadcasting regulator put Channel 4 under the microscope. It’s also time for Christians to stand up for themselves by flooding the regulator with complaints every time Channel 4 and its fellow travellers deliberately insult their faith and culture. Our Muslim community would do no less!