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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs