Noor Islamic TV (Sky channel 812), a Birmingham based Satellite TV channel that broadcasts Islamic programming in the Urdu language throughout the UK and Europe, has been fined £75,000 by Ofcom for broadcasting an anti-Semitic message that encouraged people to kill Jews.
The programme in question was about a festival in Pakistan called Urs Nehrian. One of the 15 religious scholars speaking on the programme said that the Prophet Muhammed told his followers, “Whoever amongst you comes across a Jew, they should slay him immediately.”
According to OfCom, the scholar Allama Mufti Muhammad Saeed Sialvi Sahib “then recounted how one individual immediately killed a Jewish trader with whom he had long standing business relations. The speaker held this out as the highest form of religious obedience.”
OfCom ruled that the comments could “be interpreted as spreading anti-Semitism.” Because the TV station didn’t include or later provide any context to the comments, they were deemed inappropriate.
“In OfCom’s opinion there would need to be very strong, if not exceptional, contextual factors to justify the inclusion of such highly offensive and discriminatory anti-Semitic material,” the regulator ruled. OfCom also noted that the comment and program was pre-recorded so Noor TV could have prevented the broadcast.
It was also noted that as the personn who spoke these words was a Mufti (A person who could hand down religious edicts known as Fatwas), and an Allama (religious scholar) his words could have a serious impact on those listening.
The TV channel has been fined by Ofcom in the past. When under the ownership of Al Ehya, Noor TV was fined £85,000 when, according to Ofcom, “the presenter made various statements making it clear that it was acceptable, or even the duty of a Muslim, to murder any person thought to have shown disrespect to the Prophet Mohammed where the relevant government had failed to take any action.”
It is important to note that the previous company that owned Noor TV has many connections with the current owner, including the same key staff and same key shareholder and the programming has also remained largely the same, according to Ofcom.
Because of these connections Ofcom stated the following:
“Ofcom is concerned that the latest breach demonstrates that, following the regulatory action taken and penalties imposed on the previous licensee for Noor TV, insufficient action had been taken by the Licensee to ensure that its compliance arrangements were sufficiently robust to prevent other serious breaches of the Code occurring. In Ofcom’s view the seriousness of the previous breaches, and the previous concerns expressed by Ofcom regarding the compliance function for the Noor TV service under Al Ehya, should have resulted in a more robust compliance function under the current Licensee.”
In its final statements Ofcom said:
“Having regard to all the circumstances referred to above, including the need to achieve an appropriate level of deterrence and the serious nature of the Code breaches in this case, and all the representations to date from the Licensee, Ofcom’s Decision is that an appropriate and proportionate sanction would be a financial penalty of £75,000. In addition, Ofcom considers that the Licensee should broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings in this case, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.”
The programme that the fine was for was originally broadcast on 17 November 2015. The ruling by Ofcom took place on 20 December 2016.