Channel 4: call to prayer, or media nightmare?

Yesterday marked the first day of the holy month of Ramadan for followers of the Islamic faith.  Muslims around the world abstained from food and water during day light hours, observing the fast- one of the five pillars of the growing religion.

Channel Four, a broadcaster with a reputation for not shying away from the touchier subjects, have decided to mark the occasion by broadcasting the muslim call to prayer every morning at 3am. 

Obviously, as Channel 4 will have anticipated, this has been met with mixed reviews.  Some members of the public have expressed their anger and disbelief that the ‘adhan’ is being broadcast every day. A Yougov poll found that British viewers opposing the broadcast outnumber those that supported it by two to one.  Ralph Lee, the head of factual programming at Channel 4 defended his decision though saying that the call to prayer was a purposeful “provocation” to those who thought Islam was a violent religion, especially in wake of the Woolwich murders. He also stated 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.” Channel 4’s target audience is young, and so, surprisingly, is over half of the folloowers of Islam in the UK according to one source.In this way, Channel 4 seem to fulfilling their job descrip tion down to a tee.

As a Muslim, I should be pleased that Channel 4 is trying to change how the media portray a faith often now synonymous with the words ‘bombings’ and ‘terrorists’, but something just doesn’t sit right with me. Fasting is hard enough already, and somehow I feel the highlighted coverage on Ramadan by Channel 4 won’t really ease relations much between the ignorant (on both sides) and ideas of Islam. Instead, its just bringing up more people can criticize. 

I’m just happy getting on with it.

I can’t really decide if Channel 4 are going down the route of ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ route or whether they really are trying to change how people view Muslims in this country. . .  In any case, the adhan will only be broadcast at 3 am, which shouldn’t really effect much of the population anyway. I suppose it makes a change from reruns of The Big Bang Theory

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