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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid