What sort of person would three minutes of Muslim prayer at 3am ‘provoke’?

There's Songs of Praise for the Christians every Sunday. There are special messages from the head Rabbi for Passover and Yom Kippur.

There’s Songs of Praise for the Christians every Sunday. There are special messages from the chief Rabbi for Passover and Yom Kippur.

So why not have prayers for Ramadan?

Channel 4 will screen a three minute chant by Hassen Rasool, a prayer call leader, from the start of Ramadan next Tuesday. Thereafter it will mark the first prayer of each day at 3am before resuming it’s regular schedule.

It will, however, interrupt this schedule for 20 seconds at four other prayer times during the day for the 30 days of Ramadan.

In other words, if you’re watching Channel 4 at 3am your programming will be interrupted for three minutes. Later in the day, you will also lose just over a minute of television.

I can see how that could be quite upsetting.

Some perspective is needed, though.

According to the front page of today’s Sun, the actions of Channel 4 in choosing to broadcast Ramadan could “inflame tension”.

In other words, there are people who are so angry they are going to lose around four minutes of television a day that the peace may be compromised.

And as if the Sun actually wanted to inflame community tensions, the paper follows this by quoting an obnoxious Islamist by the name of Abu Zakariyya – of the Islamic Emergency Defence Group – who wants to see Sharia Law in Britain.

You’d think the Sun was implying that all Muslims who will take part in Ramadan prayers want Sharia Law or something.

In the end Channel 4’s decision is down to a mixture of two things.

Firstly, like the Sun it actually wants to “provoke” the wrong sorts of people for the purposes of publicity, much like when it made the atrocious decision to broadcast an ‘alternative message by the Holocaust-denying Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – although in the case of the latter it would have been wrong not to be provoked.

There’s also a detectable strain of Islamophilia amongst some half-baked progressives, which Channel 4 seems to epitomise. In polite company Christianity can be cursed to the skies, yet criticism of Islam comes with a risk attached – you may be branded Islamophobic; the implication being that you suffer in some way from colour prejudice.

As George Orwell put it in Notes on Nationalism:

“Almost any English intellectual would be scandalised by the claim that the white races are superior to the coloured, whereas the opposite claim would seem to him unexceptionable even if he disagreed with it.”

Personally I would like to see a lot less religion on television. But that doesn’t mean I’m the sort of person who is going to be “provoked” by four minutes of Muslim prayer each day for a single week. You should probably worry about anyone who is.

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