The Islam Channel is the largest satellite channel aimed specifically at British and European Muslims. 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 â€“ for instance from the UK’s Shia community or from non-Islamist Muslim groups â€“ being under-represented on the channel.
Many of its speakers are Islamist extremists from organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir who use the channel to promote intolerant and bigoted interpretations of Islam. Others are Wahhabi graduates of Saudi universities who have denied the Holocaust and promoted hatred of Shia Muslims. Other presenters are Islamists who have been suspended from their jobs in government due to their extremist statements or who are from organisations that the government has broken ties with due to their leading membersâ€™ alleged support for terrorism.
One of the most worrying aspects of Islam Channel is the promotion of its extremist agenda via the views and politics of its presenters. Amongst these have been the Wahhabi cleric and anti-semite Yasir Qadhi, and Azad Ali of the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE), who was suspended from his position of civil servant earlier this year, following the publication of extremist jihadi literature on the IFE blog.
The Quilliam Foundation reports:
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 â€œfalse propagandaâ€ 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.
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.
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Filed in: Islamists,Media