DM Digital was fined £85,000 by Ofcom for airing a live lecture by Muslim scholar Abdul Qadir Jilani who issued a fatwa (religious edict) to those who blaspheme against the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and what constitutes a Muslim leaving the folds of Islam.
His comments were directed to blasphemers and apostates who insult the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the different juristic opinions of how those people should be dealt with under Shariah law.
The TV channel was also fined an additional £20,000 for other breaches of the Ofcom’s broadcasting rules pertaining to political impartiality.
DM Digital stated on their website: “The channel management do not understand why such a speech was made by Syed Abdul Qadir Jilani as he has been giving regular lectures on DM Digital for the past three years”.
Abdul Qadir Jilani
DM Digital broadcasted a programme called Mercy unto the Worlds in October 2011 which featured a live lecture by Abdul Qadir Jilani who is a renowned Brelvi Sufi scholar. He said: “”The matter of insulting the Prophet does not fall in the category of terrorism. Those who cannot kill such men have no faith.
“It is your duty, the duty of those who recite the holy verse, to kill those who insult Prophet Muhammad. Under the guidance from Islamic texts it is evident that if a Muslim apostatises, then it is not right to wait for the authorised courts; anyone may kill him. An apostate deserves to be killed and any man may kill him.”
Ofcom stated Mr Jilani’s comments were “likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder”.
A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “This code breach was particularly serious and, taking account of all the circumstances, decided therefore that a financial penalty of £85,000 should be imposed on the licensee DM Digital.”
President of the National Secular Society, Terry Sanderson said: “Inciting murder is against the law. Why aren’t the police knocking on Mr Jilani’s door? Why is he not under arrest? Surely he cannot be allowed to get away with such blatant call to kill innocent people?”
DM Digital, which is based in Manchester, was the first Asian Channel in the UK to broadcast in six regional languages, which include English, Punjabi, Urdu, Sindhi, Kashmiri and Hindi. It is thought to have a combined viewership of millions across the UK, Middle East and the Asian subcontinent.
The channel claims it “has effectively brought the Asian and English cultures closer by integrating its people, the cultural diversity, communities and the economy.”
In response to Ofcom’s fine and the comments made by Mr Jilani, DM Digital said: “This was a live transmission and our management warn all channels not to give any live broadcast services to any religious scholars unless it is recorded and reviewed with the compliance team, otherwise you will be fined even though it is not the fault of the channel.”
DM Digital believes the complaint was made by Ahmadiyyas who are a sect considered outside the folds of Islam by mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims. However, 5Pillarz has been unable to confirm this.