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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid