British TV channel to air Muslim call to prayer

Tue Jul 2, 2013 3:13pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - A British television station will broadcast the Muslim call to prayer every morning during Ramadan to give a voice to Britain's Muslim minority, which has faced a backlash since the murder of a soldier on a London street.

Channel 4 on Tuesday announced it would be the first mainstream national broadcaster to air the call, issuing it at 3 a.m. daily from July 9 for the entire Muslim month of fasting.

The publicly-owned broadcaster, set up to appeal to minority audiences, will also interrupt its programming four times on the first day of Ramadan with 20-second films to remind viewers of the call to prayer.

Christian programming is a familiar feature of British national radio and television, although its audiences are dwindling.

Ralph Lee, Channel's 4 head of factual programmes, said he expected the station would be criticized for focusing attention on a minority religion. But he said he hoped to give a voice to mainstream, law-abiding Muslims.

"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," Lee said in a statement.

British Muslims have suffered reprisals since two men murdered soldier Lee Rigby, a 25-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan, in broad daylight outside London's Woolwich barracks in May.

Since then, there have been a series of demonstrations against Islam and a rise in islamophobic attacks, including suspected arson at an Islamic center in London.   Continued...