At the weekend Quilliam published an open letter to the UK’s Channel 4 after the TV station scheduled two first-person films presented by leading figures of the banned Islamist groups al-Muhajiroun/Islam4UK to air on its ‘4thought.tv’ strand. The programmes and their associated promotional material make no reference to the extremist backgrounds of their subjects and present them as being representative of British Muslims. The programme’s format additionally does not allow their extremist views to be challenged or put into context. Quilliam’s letter to Channel 4 explains how and why such programming can have negative effects on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The presenter of the first film, broadcast on 24 November, was ‘Abu Nusaybah’, who has been closely associated with al-Muhajiroun/Islam4UK for a number of years (see here and here). He used his programme to call for ‘shari’ah law’ to be imposed in the UK and for thieves to have their hands cut off.
The presenter of the second film, to air on 5 December, is Anjem Choudary, the de-facto leader of both groups, who is scheduled to use his programme to argue that Muslims in the UK are being ‘persecuted’.
Prior to this, the last Muslim presenter on the 4thought.tv strand, on 9 November, was Yvonne Ridley, a presenter on Press TV, the Iranian propaganda channel. During this period, no other Muslims were featured on the 4thought.tv strand.
Talal Rajab, a spokesman for Quilliam who also authored Quilliam’s recent influential report on the Islam Channel, said:“The invitation of these two extremist speakers by Channel 4 is deeply problematic. By presenting extremist views as representative of mainstream Islam, it not only reinforces negative stereotypes of Islam to non-Muslims, but it serves to legitimise these intolerant opinions within Muslim circles.
“Moreover, al-Muhajiroun was banned by the British government because of its links to individuals who had committed acts of Islamist-inspired terrorism. We therefore urge Channel 4 to reconsider airing Anjem Choudary’s film, and to feature more representative and moderate Muslims in all future programming.”
Quilliam’s open letter to Channel 4 can be read as a PDF here.
Talal Rajab is available for interview. He can be contacted on Quilliam’s 24 hour media hotline which is +44 (0)7590 229 917.