In a bizarre move, Channel 4 is airing the Islamic call to prayer every morning throughout the month of Ramadan, taking on the role of a muezzin (someone who calls Muslims to prayer) in a move that the broadcaster itself described as a ‘deliberate act of provocation’.
The three-minute call to prayer is being aired live daily at 3.00am during Ramadan, which began on 9 July. The four remaining calls to prayer are being played automatically on Channel 4’s web site.
Programmes were interrupted four times on the first day to play a 20-second film reminding viewers of the upcoming prayer time.
Channel 4’s head of factual programming Ralph Lee wrote in the Radio Times: ‘Observing the adhan (Islamic call to prayer) 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.
‘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’.
The daily call to prayer is being preceded by a short film, Ramadan reflections, featuring contributions from imams to architects.
Blogger ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ criticised the decision. He wrote: ‘Let us be clear about what is going on here: this is Channel 4 simply facilitating Islamic worship. By sounding the adhan, they are fulfilling the function of a muezzin in a mosque. The objective is clear: it is proselytism’.
Conservative MP Conor Burns said, ‘I find it extraordinary that Channel 4 would pursue this politically-correct tokenism’.