Channel 4 is to air the Muslim call to prayer live every morning during the month of Ramadan. The broadcaster said it was an act of “deliberate provocation” aimed at viewers who might associate Islam with extremism. The headline-grabbing move will see Channel 4 broadcast the three-minute call to prayer at 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. After that date, the channel will air the 3am call to prayer on live TV, with the other four prayer times will be broadcast on its website.
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, a deliberate ‘provocation’ to all our viewers in the very real sense of the word.”
Lee added in an article in the Radio Times: “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.
“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. 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.”
The Muslim Council of Britain supported Channel 4’s move.
“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,” said a spokesman.
He added that he believed that nearly 5% of the UK will be actively involved in Ramadan and questioned whether the same could be said of other national events that gain significant TV coverage, such as the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.
A short film of two to three minutes, Ramadan Reflections, will run ahead of each morning’s call to prayer.
The film, made by production company Watershed, will “feature a range of voices, from imams to architects, feminists to a former rock chick, each providing some serious Ramadan food for thought”.
Channel 4 is also launching a season of programmes around the period of prayer, called 4Ramadan, starting on 8 July. The broadcaster has a history of launching controversial programming to spark a viewer, and media reaction.
In 2008 the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was asked to deliver its alternative Christmas message, a counterpoint to the Queen’s annual speech.
Ahmadinejad, who is known for his controversial views on issues such as the Holocaust, women and homosexuality, delivered a seven-minute speech which sparked almost 300 complaints. The media regulator Ofcom investigated the speech, but cleared Channel 4 of breaking the broadcasting code.
source: Guardian UK