Channel 4’s ‘Alternative Christmas Message’ will this year be delivered by a veiled Muslim woman.

The message coincides with a year in which issues of religious and racial identity, freedom of expression and social cohesion have dominated the news agenda.

The right to wear religious symbols from niqabs to crucifixes, remarks made by the Pope about Islam and the publication of Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed have all generated a debate about multiculturalism, secularism and integration. A debate in which British Muslims have played a key role and one that will shape the future of British society.

Reflecting on the year that۪s gone will be Khadija, a freelance teacher and lecturer in Islamic studies and the Koran. Born in Zimbabwe she is a British citizen who has been wearing the niqab for 10 years.

Beginning in 1993, Channel 4۪s traditional counterpoint to The Queen’s Christmas Day 3pm broadcast has previously featured an illustrious and varied selection of presenters including Quentin Crisp, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, Ali G, Sharon Osbourne and The Simpsons.

Channel 4’s Christmas message, which will be produced by Chameleon TV, will air at 15:00 on Christmas Day against the Queen’s traditional broadcast on BBC1 and ITV1.

Details of the message will be released nearer Christmas.