Channel 4 is to air the Muslim call to prayer live during the month of Ramadan to “provoke” viewers.
It has confirmed it will broadcast the “adhan” live on air everyday for the Fajr prayer during Ramadan as a deliberate act of “provocation” aimed at viewers who associate Islam with terrorism and extremism.
The broadcaster will cover a whole month of programmes around the Islamic act of “salaat” and fasting starting next week.
A senior Channel 4 executive explained that Ramadan was of “greater interest” to its viewers than the “blanket coverage” given to the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation by the BBC and other rivals.
Head of factual programming, Ralph Lee wrote in the Radio Times: “Observing the adhan on Channel 4 will act as a nationwide tannoy system, a deliberate ‘provocation’ to all our viewers in the very real sense of the word.
“Not surprising when you consider its (Ramadan) near invisibility on mainstream TV. Contrast this with the way most Muslims are represented on television – nearly always appearing in contexts related to extremism or terrorism.
“Even when moderate Muslims do appear, it’s often only to provide a counterpoint to these issues. Following the horrific events in Woolwich and subsequent reprisals against British Muslims, there has surely never been a more pressing need to give a voice to the moderate mainstream majority.”
He stated that the “vast majority of people in Britain” would be unaware of the “mass act of personal sacrifice and worship” during Ramadan.
Mr Lee concluded: “No doubt Channel 4 will be criticised for focusing attention on a ‘minority’ religion but that’s what we’re here to do – provide space for the alternative and a voice to the under-represented.
“And let’s not forget that Islam is one of the few religions that’s flourishing, actually increasing in the UK. Like Channel 4’s target audience, its followers are young. It’s recently been reported that half of British Muslims are under 25.
“Nearly five per cent of the country will actively engage in Ramadan this month – can we say the same of other national events that have received blanket coverage on television such as the Queen’s coronation anniversary?”
The Muslim Council of Britain along with other Muslim organisations commended Channel 4’s initiative. A spokesman for the MCB said: “This is a very special month for Muslims and its recognition on a mainstream channel is not only symbolic for belonging and solidarity but will hopefully help to portray a more realistic account of Islam and Muslims.”