Media regulator, Ofcom has today flashed The Islam Channel with a serious warning card after it was found in breach of five cases over a twelve-month period.
The programmes in question shown by the channel were:
IslamiQa – aired on 18th May 2008
Muslimah Dilemma – aired on 12th April 2009
Ummah Talk – aired on 14th October 2009
Politics and Beyond – aired on 16th October 2009
IslamiQa – aired on 30th October 2009
The Islam Channel transmitted various programmes aimed at an Islamic audience, which included interpretations and analysis of Islamic law and teaching on a range of issues. Ofcom acknowledges that it would be unsurprising that channels such as the Islam Channel include programmes that analyse and discuss Islamic teachings and associated texts. However, Ofcom had concerns as to whether the programmes complied with the harm and offence provisions of the Code.
The channel broadcast “offensive” material including the presenter saying it was permissible to wear perfume in some circumstances, for example, if a woman “is in the house and she is only going to attend the gathering of the women”. However, the presenter said that if a woman wears perfume to a mosque she “is declared as a prostitute” by the Prophet Mohammed.
Ofcom notes that at no point did a presenter on the show in question, clearly state on air that he did not condone or encourage violence towards women under any circumstances which Islam Channel has informed Ofcom is its formal stance on this issue. Ofcom considered that the presenter did therefore give advice to viewers that it was permissible for a husband to physically punish his wife, even though according to the broadcaster it was to be only in certain circumstances, and undertaken with restraint, and even if the language used by the presenter could be perceived by some as relatively mild.
In Ofcom’s opinion, the advocacy of any form of violence (however limited), as happened in this particular case, is not acceptable and would be offensive to many in the audience.
Ofcom considered that one of the guests, Nazreen Nawaz, was clear that it would be permissible for a husband to have non-consensual sexual relations within a marriage, when she said the following:
“And really the idea that a woman cannot refuse her husband۪s relations this is not strange to a Muslim because it is part of maintaining that strong marriage”. [extract from The Islam Channel show]
“But it shouldn۪t be such a big problem where the man feels he has to force himself upon the woman”. [extract from The Islam Channel show]
Ofcom has also been concerned about The Islam Channel’s stance on impartiality. In 2007, the regulator told the channel about its “fundamental lack of understanding” the Licensee showed in respect of the due impartiality requirements of the Code.