News / Europe

British Broadcaster to Air Daily Call to Prayer During Ramadan

Men pray at a mosque in south London, September 2012.
Men pray at a mosque in south London, September 2012.
Selah Hennessy
— One of Britain's main broadcasters is set to air the Muslim call to prayer live every morning during the month of Ramadan.  Channel 4 says it is an act of "deliberate provocation" aimed at viewers who might associate Islam with extremism.  The move is proving controversial.

Channel 4 is set to broadcast the three-minute call to prayer at about 3 a.m. on each of the 30 days of Ramadan.  The other four daily prayers will be broadcast on its website.

Programmers say it is a way to challenge conceptions of Islam in Britain and provide a voice for the underrepresented.  The move, it says, will force non-Muslims to “sit up and notice” that Ramadan is taking place.

Buzz among British Muslims

Usama Hasan, a senior researcher in Islamic studies at the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based research group, says the news is creating a stir among British Muslims.

“I'm looking at Muslim discussion forums online and blogs and things," he said.  "There has been a lot of buzz about Channel 4's Ramadan season.  So people will know about it.  And whereas in previous years they would have automatically switched on Muslim satellite channels at dawn time, now many will also see Channel 4 as a watchable alternative.”

Hasan says the move is especially important for young Muslims.  A recent census carried out in Britain found that one in 10 people under the age of 25 is Muslim.  Channel 4 says that age group is its target audience - and a big part of why it decided to broadcast the prayer.

Young Muslims in Britain, Hasan says, have grown up in an environment formed by the September 11, 2001 terrorism attack in the United States and a subsequent terror attack in Britain in 2005.

Hasan says for young Muslims, signs of inclusion in mainstream British society are significant.

“They have lived through their formative years with that whole, rather negative atmosphere.  And it is very important for them to feel more positively accepted in British society and this will be one welcome step,” he said.

Controversial move

The move by Channel 4 has been controversial.  Right-wing political groups and some media outlets have at times reacted with dismay, and outrage.

Andrew McBride is deputy chairman of a far-right pressure group called Britain First.  His group has launched a campaign to stop the broadcast, which it calls “Islamic propaganda."  So far the “complaint” has garnered some 5,000 signatures.

“Getting from the broadcasting airwaves the call to prayer in Arabic in Britain - it annoys people, it annoys me,” he said.

Some from the Muslim community in Britain have voiced concern that Channel 4 is using Ramadan to spur ratings and create controversy.

But Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, says representing Muslim culture in mainstream broadcasts makes Muslims feel more integrated into British society.

“I think this will certainly help.  It is not going to dispel all the myths and misconceptions about Islam in one go.  But every effort helps,” he said.

Channel 4 also is set to launch a series about Ramadan this month, including documentaries about leading Muslims in Britain.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Azztec from: uk
July 10, 2013 5:41 AM
What a bold move, this is not a case of pandering to a specific religion but raising awareness of the month of Ramadan so the argument of doing the same for other religions does not quite stick.
If people payed attention to what the month of Ramadan is about rather than try and belittle it they may actually learn something useful and enlightening which they may be able to use in their own lives as a motivation to better themselves.


by: Alan King from: USA
July 09, 2013 4:00 AM
What a bold, civilised, courageous, inclusive and humane move by the British Channel. It seems having ruled the world, east to west, the Brits understand other cultures much better.
I hope the american and other western media will follow suit and start accept accomodating the moslem members of our communities more decently and appropriately.


by: OldPolyman
July 09, 2013 3:38 AM
The problem with broadcast prayers is that it gives creedence to a particular religion, if Channel 4 will broadcast prayers of all other religions, then I have no problem. However I suspect 4 will not give the same to any other religion.


by: guy c from: UK
July 08, 2013 5:24 PM
what a depravity!!!


by: Carlos Gomez-Mota from: Dominican Rep
July 08, 2013 9:47 AM
This one wrong way for looking integration of a foreign group because this integration must look that these people live the culture of UK instead of the reverse.

In Response

by: TAHA from: Washington
July 10, 2013 4:45 PM
What is wrong with letting to this when a channel starts expressing the wishes of a big minority when they have come under attack because of act of a few. This is a way that Muslims feel at home and surely they will strive to be part and parcel of British society.
Islam and any other faith should be viewed as a common heritage of human society. Any open society without looking to the behavior of some followers should ponder on what the faith preaches and how can one benefit from its messages.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid