Tuesday, March 20, 2018

UK: Sunni Radio Ikhlas found in breach for offensive material


Radio Ikhlas said it “deeply regret[ted] if anyone has been hurt or upset by this broadcast”. It also said that upon being alerted to this programme by Ofcom on 28th September 2017, it had suspended the presenter

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK Desk
Source/Credit: Biz Asia
By Asma Irfan | March 19, 2018

Derby based Asian community radio station, Radio Ikhlas has been found in breach of offensive material broadcast during a phone-in show in September 2017.

The statements that were made on the show constituted “hatred” against the Ahmadiyya community. The Ahmadi movement identifies itself as a Muslim movement, which follows the teachings of the Quran. However, it is regarded as heretical by orthodox Islam since they differ on the interpretation of the finality of prophethood. There are Ahmadiyya communities around the world. They face restrictions in many Muslim countries and are described in publicly available reports as one of the persecuted communities in Pakistan. There have been reports of discrimination and threats against the community in the UK.

This two-hour programme featured a presenter receiving phone calls from listeners and discussing current affairs. The majority of the programme dealt with the on-going crisis surrounding the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar. In the middle of the programme, there was a 21-minute segment, which commenced with the presenter referring to the fact that the programme was being broadcast on the anniversary of 7th September 1974. This was the day on which the Pakistani National Assembly voted on a Bill and Constitutional Amendment declaring Ahmadi people to be non-Muslim.

Radio Ikhlas said it “deeply regret[ted] if anyone has been hurt or upset by this broadcast”. It also said that upon being alerted to this programme by Ofcom on 28th September 2017, it had suspended the presenter, a recent volunteer, and conducted an investigation into his conduct.

Radio Ikhlas also said that the presenter “normally..hosts a show every Thursday at 12pm teaching our listeners Arabic”. It added that the station’s “normal schedule at 3pm” is to broadcast a “nasheeds programme, which is music in various languages, including English”. However, the Licensee said that on the day of broadcast in this case “the volunteer accessed the [Radio Ikhlas] building with a key that the station had provided him. At the same time, the station manager was on bereavement leave. The Licensee said that “normally” the volunteer would have informed the station manager of a change of schedule. However, in this case, neither the station manager nor “anyone else at the station [were] aware that [the volunteer] would be presenting a show at 3pm”. Radio Ikhlas acknowledged that the volunteer “should not have been doing a show at that time nor should he have been broadcasting a political show”.

Ofcom considered that the information provided by the Licensee about the presenter of the programme also serves to add to the seriousness of these breaches. It is reasonable to expect that a broadcast about Islam from a local imam would carry particular weight with its audience and consequently, in this case the broadcast programme would be more likely to have the very serious adverse effects that we have identified.

Ofcom acknowledged the practical and logistical challenges faced by community radio licensees. However, it is a fundamental requirement of holding an Ofcom licence that all licensees have adequate processes in place to ensure compliance with the Code. It is an editorial decision for the broadcaster as to how it complies with the Code. However, in our view, having in place arrangements to ensure that all content is monitored as it is broadcast would mean a broadcaster can take swift and robust action if the most harmful content is broadcast, including uncontextualised hate speech.

The broadcaster was found in breach of three rules – 3.2, 3.3 and 2.3.



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