Change The Channel

Blogger Sid has a spot-on take on Islam Channel, a UK-based broadcaster:

The Islam Channel says it is committed to giving a platform to a range of views from across Britain’s Muslim and non-Muslim communities. This is a complete fiction.

What it is has done is to give an un-due prominence to Islamist voices that represent only a small minority of British Muslims. This over-representation has also led to other voices – for instance from the UK’s Shia community or from non-Islamist Muslim groups – being under-represented on the channel.

Sid cites a Quilliam Foundation report, which notes the channel’s liking for Islamists familiar to readers of this blog (links to a few names have been added if you want to learn more):

In recent weeks the Islam Channel programme ‘Ummah Talk’ has been hosted by Azad Ali, a civil servant who has been suspended since January for writing blogs on the website of Islamic Forum Europe (a Jamaat-e-Islami front-group) which have been interpreted as condoning terrorist attacks on British troops in Iraq – as well as other blogs supporting Hamas and advocating the re-creation of the Caliphate. Ali is also a trustee of the East London Mosque and in 2008, despite his extreme views, he was elected to the council of Liberty, the human rights pressure group.

Yasir Qadhi, a Wahhabi graduate of the University of Medina who has denied the Holocaust, is also a regular presenter on the Islam Channel’s religious programmes. Qadhi has said that “Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews”, calling conventional accounts of the Holocaust “false propaganda” and adding that Jewish depictions of Hitler were “not correct”. Qadhi has also denounced Shia Islam as “the most lying sect of Islam” and said that “the Shias are allowed to lie and it is their religion to lie”.

Inayat Bunglawala, from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), is frequently a presenter on the Islam Channel’s ‘Politics and the Media’ programme. The government recently broke off relations with the MCB after Daud Abdullah, its deputy-chairman, signed a statement that denounced the Palestinian National Authority as “not eligible to represent the Palestinian people” on account of “giving up” jihad against Israel and which also potentially authorizes jihadist attacks on the Royal Navy. Earlier this year, Bunglawala complained to the BBC after they referred to the pro-jihadist cleric Abu Qatada as “an extremist”.

Several presenters on the Islam Channel are also active members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a global movement which is dedicated to establishing a totalitarian state in which women and religious minorities would be systematically deprived of their basic human rights. Many of these speakers regularly use their shows to promote Hizb ut-Tahrir ideology. Islam Channel presenters who are members of Hizb ut-Tahrir include Sajid Varda, the host of last season’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ programme on the Islam Channel, Ibtihal Ismail Bsis, Aamna Durrani and Basharat Ali. Ironically, Basharat Ali and Ibtihal Ismail Bsis, despite HT’s rejection of the British legal system as “un-Islamic”, are both practicing lawyers.

Islam Channel also runs the annual Global Peace & Unity event, which has featured some of the men named above. As HP reported last year, this event welcomes a number of extremists.

Sid calls for change at the channel:

This imbalance in favour of extremists on the Islam Channel and at its Global Peace and Unity Festival acts to the detriment of British Muslims. The Islam Channel is ideally placed to help foster the development of a British Muslim identity that contributes to wider society and which is comfortable in a secular, democratic and liberal country. This year’s Global Peace and Unity Festival should be a platform for showcasing the diversity of modern British Islam rather than becoming an occasion that creates more controversy and suspicion toward British Muslims. The Islam Channel can do better.

That’s a good call and I support it. In fact, Quilliam should have their own programme on Islam Channel. The debates could be great lively fun, and useful too, as they are needed in some circles of Islam in Britain.

But my scepticism knows few bounds. Mohamed Ali Harrath, an extremist convicted of terrorism offences in his native Tunisia and an antisemite, is the channel’s chief executive. Extremist programming is what the channel does.

Have a look at Ali himself in this video from an Islamist conference. At 3:46 in, he says this:

Look at the Zionists in the United States. There’s not that great number [sic]. The United States is nearly 300 million [sic]. But they have six million Jews living there. Every single one votes and every single one makes sure he influences many votes. And that’s how they command. That’s how it works.

Actually, according to exit polls, 79% of American Jewish voters chose Gore in 2000, and 74% chose Kerry in 2004. Some “command”, that.

Here, by the way, is an Islam Channel call for imams at UK mosques to pray for Gaza. Islam Channel suggests a supplication for the visitation of divine wrath on bad Jews (and presumably bad Christians too):

O Allaah, verily we seek Your help, we believe in You, we put our trust in You and we praise You and we are not ungrateful to You. O Allaah, You alone we worship and to You we pray and prostrate, for Your sake we strive. We hope for Your mercy and fear Your punishment, for Your punishment will certainly reach the disbelievers. O Allaah, punish the infidels of the People of the Book who are preventing others from following Your way


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