Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 2013-07-02
UK Broadcaster Channel 4 is to air the athan (Muslim call to prayer) live every morning during the month of Ramadaan citing it an act of "deliberate provocation" aimed at viewers who might associate Islam with extremism.
It is believed to be the first time a mainstream British television channel has broadcast the Islamic call to prayer.
The athan will be aired about 3am for 30 days from the start of Ramadan on 9 July. In addition, on the first day of Ramadan Channel 4 will interrupt programming four times during the day – to mark subsequent calls to prayer – with a 20-second film to remind viewers of the approaching prayer time.
Ralph Lee, Channel 4's head of factual programming, said: "The calls to prayer prompt Muslims to carry out quiet moments of worship, but hopefully they'll also make other viewers sit up and notice that this event is taking place.
“Observing the adhan on Channel 4 will act as a ‘nationwide tannoy system’ for Britain’s 2.8 million Muslims while they observed Ramadaan,” said Lee.
Lee said almost five per cent of the British population would ‘actively engage’ in Ramadaan this month, adding: ‘Can we say the same of other national events that have received blanket coverage on television such as the Queen’s coronation anniversary?’
Meanwhile critics questioned whether the decision to transmit the athan was a ‘publicity-seeking stunt’ by the controversial broadcaster.
Lee said Ramadan usually received minimal coverage on Britain’s main television channels and said he believed Channel 4’s series of programmes during July and August was chance for Britain’s moderate Muslims to be heard.
The broadcaster’s commitment was welcomed by the Muslim Council of Britain. A spokesman 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