By Ray Fleming

When the UK's Channel 4 TV was first licensed in 1982 it was to enable it to cover subjects overlooked by BBC and ITV and of interest to minority audiences. Its interpretation of that responsibility has been flexible, to say the least, and sometimes questionable, but its decision to broadcast the three-minute Muslim Call to Prayer during the period of Ramadan which begins next Tuesday seems in line with its remit. Ramadan is the most significant event in the Islam calendar and makes the greatest demands on its followers by intensive prayer and fasting from sunrise to sunset. It is observed by Muslims world wide but until Channel 4's proposal there has been no specific identity of it by British media.

In an article in this week's Radio Times a senior executive of Channel 4 described its idea as a “provocation in the very real sense of the word to all our viewers who associate Islam only with terrorism and extremism”. At the same time the channel will be broadcasting a number of programmes about Muslim life in a “Ramadan season”. The Muslim Council of Great Britain has expressed its support but whether Channel 4's initiative will be received by general viewers in the way it intends may be another matter. There may be protests but this recognition of the major event in the Islamic year seems right and proper.


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