Channel 4 has decided to embrace the Islamic month of fasting and prayer, Ramadan, by broadcasting the prayer calls on TV and on their website.
I, for one (a Christian who attends church every Sunday), believe that this could be a good idea, and here’s why.
Why shouldn’t we embrace this Muslim tradition? After all we do live in a multicultural nation and 5% of the population were listed as Muslims in the 2011 Census, and that number is growing.
The gesture will demonstrate that the UK is ready to embrace not only the Muslim faith, but all other cultures and traditions as well. With Christianity being the ‘staple’ religion of the United Kingdom, we automatically ‘celebrate’ all Christian holidays and benefit from the festivities and days off work. Regardless of our actual beliefs, we all benefit from two bank holidays at Easter and a day off on 25 December.
If non-believers have to sit through the Queen’s speech and Songs of Praise then why can’t the rest of the nation accept a three minute broadcast at 3am? Also, it’ll only be on the first day of Ramadan that they’ll broadcast all five prayer calls on TV, as for the other 29 days, prayer calls will be shown on the Channel 4 website with only the 3am morning calls on the TV.
In the midst of the revised immigration laws and race-based media headlines, it can only be a good thing to show that we as a nation are capable of noticing and welcoming the positives that comes with every culture.
It will also help to show a positive side of the faith. Ramadan is a time when Muslims refrain from carnal sin, give to charity, focus on Allah and read the Qu’ran, as well as engage in frequent prayer.
Being reminded that Muslims are engaging in peaceful activities at this time and focusing on God will provide a welcome distraction and contrast to the usual portrayal we are offered of them, courtesy of the media. Stepping away from the usual Islam-related headlines consisting of violence, terrorism and Sharia Law; these broadcasts will remind us that the Muslims are also a dedicated and religious people.
Recently, a ring of peadophiles who were exploiting young white British girls were referred to as being part of “Muslim peadophile sex gangs” by the news. The Muslim and Asian backgrounds of the offenders seemed to be – according to many newspapers – one of the focal points of the stories; whereas when we look at the cases of Jimmy Savile and all of his pervert associates, it is never mentioned that they all happen to be white men, or Christians or Catholics.
We appear to be currently obsessed with pointing out that someone is a MUSLIM as a primary issue, whilst their criminal nature comes second.
The broadcasts will help to educate the rest of us. Usually, from a lack of understanding comes confusion and misinterpretation which is evident from the nation’s typical way of reporting Islam-related news.
Maybe teaching those who don’t already know a small part of the faith, will help to gain some understanding and hopefully acceptance.
With the recent Woolwich murder and the consequent EDL-related protests and attacks on Muslims and their places of worship, we are currently being surrounded with one-sided negative thoughts of those who practice the faith. Unless we make the effort to know more, this negative representation is all we’ve got, which might explain why some people feel fear when encountering Muslims.
I believe that Channel 4’s broadcasts will bring a sense of inclusion. Since the September 11 terrorist attacks of New York, a culture of “us versus them” has been created when it comes to Muslims. Openly recognising their faith and practices will show that we have in fact included them in our country and are ready to know them better. After all, they do make up a notable amount of our society, and the underlying animosity towards them is something that can be worked on.
Those who practice Islam are currently seen as the “other” with their ways being referred to as backwards, so possibly seeing a little snippet of what they do and that being shown on one of the UK’s biggest TV channels will give off the feeling of equality.
Channel 4’s Ralph Lee said that the broadcasts would “provide space for the alternative and a voice to the under-represented.” and so far the only voice we are hearing are those of the media with a pre-determined agenda that comes with every Islam-related story they write.
Looking at how things are now, how much worse could the Channel 4 broadcasting make situations?