London: UK media watchdog Ofcom has fined Zakir Naik’s Peace TV channel network £300k (Rs 2.75 crore) for inciting murder and broadcasting hate speeches.
The communications regulator fined Club TV £200k (Rs 183 lakh), the license holder of Peace TV Urdu and Lord Productions Limited, which holds the license for the Peace TV for £100k (Rs 91 lakh).
The regulator held that four programmes on Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu breached broadcasting rules on incitement to commit crime, hate speech, abuse and offence.
“Ofcom was concerned that the statements made by the scholar had the clear potential to influence impressionable viewers by encouraging serious crime, up to and including murder, and/or leading to disorder in relation to members of the public, in particular to Muslim people practicing magic as part of their faith” the watchdog said.
In November 2017, Peace TV Urdu broadcast a programme in which an Indian Islamic scholar, Shaikh Ashfaque Salafi, discussed the Islamic punishment for magicians (and those who practice magic) citing text from Kitaab-ut-Tawheed written by 19th century scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab appeared to justify the application of the death penalty against those accused of practicing magic.
Ofcom ruled that a significant majority of South Asian Muslim people in the UK were likely to have considered these remarks derogatory to their beliefs, custom and practice, “given that many in this community regard the practice of magic such as Ruqya and the use of Taweez as harmless and benign practices which form part of their religious faith.”
In March 2018, Peace TV broadcast a programme called “Strengthening Your Family – The Valley of the Homosexuals” presented by Imam Qasim Khan. He opined that Homosexuality is “an unnatural type of love that is energized by the influence of Shaitaan” and “Gay originally just meant someone who was happy, but they applied gay to homosexuality to soften the blow of the corruption that it represents.”
Ofcom ruled the material broadcast are abusive and derogatory in nature towards homosexual people and discriminates against a group of people on grounds of their sexual orientation.
Other two programmes aired in November 2017, “Media and Islam, War or Peace?” and “Islamic perspective on marriage” both featuring Dr Zakir Naik were also ruled as promoting hatred and social disturbance towards people who had left the Islam to practice another faith and improper broadcast timings (06:30 PM) for discussing puberty and marriage age for a girl respectively.
The broadcasters have voluntarily surrendered their licenses last November. Both the satellite stations are funded by UK registered charity the Islamic Research Foundation International.
Indian-born Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is based in Malaysia, founded UBCL and is also the founder and chair of the IRFI charity. Britain banned Naik from entering in 2010 citing “unacceptable behaviour”, although it never spelled out the nature of the behaviour.