Religious Watch

2016: Oct-Dec

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Update: Ofcom Teachings...

Ofcom fines Noor TV 75,000 for a religious parable about killing jews

Link Here 26th December 2016
Full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
Noor TV is a digital satellite television channel broadcasting religious and other programming in Urdu from an Islamic perspective to audiences in the UK and internationally.

On 17 November 2015, the Licensee broadcast the second instalment of a series of four programmes which had been recorded at the Urs Nehrian festival in Pakistan that had taken place in June 2015. The programme consisted of 15 religious scholars and preachers addressing an assembled congregation with short sermons, homilies and poetic verses.

One of the speakers, Allama Mufti Muhammad Saeed Sialvi Sahib (“Allama Sialvi”), recounted a parable in which he stated that the Prophet Muhammed had given a general command to kill all Jewish people. He stated that upon hearing this command one Muslim follower had immediately killed a Jewish trader with whom he had long standing business relations. Allama Sialvi held this to be an example of the devotion and obedience of a disciple to the Prophet Muhammed and on several occasions appeared to condone the killing of a Jewish trader.

We noted that Allama Sialvi held the titles “Mufti” and “Allama”, denoting that he was a figure of religious authority within the Muslim community, and therefore someone whose views would carry some weight within the Muslim community.

We considered that Allama Sialvi's clear statement that religious obedience within the Islamic faith could be demonstrated through murder of Jewish people had the potential to be interpreted as spreading anti-Semitism, i.e. his comments could amount to a form of hate speech . In this context we were mindful of the Council of Europe's definition of' hate speech', as follows: all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin

We considered that Allama Sialvi's speech, particularly due to his standing and authority within the Muslim community, involved clear potential to cause significant offence as it held up in unequivocal terms the killing of a Jewish person as an example of devotion and obedience within the context of the Islamic faith. We also considered that the content had the potential to cause harm by portraying the murder of Jewish people in highly positive terms and promoting a highly negative anti-Semitic attitude towards Jewish people.

Ofcom's Decision is that an appropriate and proportionate sanction would be a financial penalty of £75,000. In addition, Ofcom considers that the Licensee should broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings in this case, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.



Serious offence...

Ofcom considers sanctions for Afghanistan news channel that aired German train terrorist's threatening hate speech without challenge or censure

Link Here 20th December 2016
Full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check

Ariana News
Ariana International, 20 July 2016, 12:00I

Ariana International is a general entertainment channel originating from Afghanistan, and broadcast by satellite in the UK.

Ofcom noted a news item relating to Muhammad Riyad, a 17-year old, who was described as said to be an Afghan . He had injured five people when he attacked a train, armed with a knife and axe, in Wuerzburg, Germany in July 2016.

A video was then broadcast which showed Muhammad Riyad talking straight to camera and at times brandishing a knife. The video lasted approximately two minutes and 15 seconds, and Muhammad Riyad said the following:

...Inshallah Mujahids from Islamic State will reach you everywhere. Inshallah you will be slaughtered in your homes. Inshallah they will enter your homes, enter your land, and on the streets. Inshallah you will not be safe in your homes, your villages, your towns and inshallah, and in every street in every airport inshallah. The Islamic State has enough strength to get you everywhere, even in your parliament [vigorously waving knife at camera]. I am living here amongst you and inshallah I have made a plan to deal with you here in your homes inshallah. I tell you, that I will slaughter you in your homes. I promise you that I will make you forget about France...

The news show made no further comments after the speech and moved on to the next item

Ofcom considered the following rules:

  • Rule 2.3: “In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...”.

  • Rule 3.1: “Material likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services”.

  • Rule 3.2: “Material which contains hate speech14 must not be included in television and radio programmes except where it is justified by the context”.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rules 2.3, 3.1, 3.2

Ofcom considered the audience would have interpreted Muhammad Riyad's various comments as promoting and justifying hatred and violence towards the persons who did not conform to his definition of Islam. In Ofcom's view, this was a clear example of hate speech, as defined by the Code.

Given the very strong nature of the material in this case, we considered that, under the Code, there would need to be extremely clear and strong context provided to justify the broadcast of the video featuring Muhammad Riyad. Our Decision was that that there was clearly insufficient context to justify the inclusion of hate speech in this broadcast, and Rule 3.2 was therefore breached.

Breaches of Section Three of the Code, in particular, are very serious because they involve the potential for serious harm. Ofcom considered all of the breaches in this case to be very serious.

Due to the highly challenging and potentially harmful nature of the content broadcast, we are putting the Licensee on notice that we will consider these very serious breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

Breaches of Rules 2.3, 3.1 and 3.2



An even more miraculous conception...

Two Josephs Christmas decoration winds up campaign group, Christian Concern

Link Here 20th December 2016
A gay Christmas decoration showing a nativity scene with two Josephs has been slammed by 'outraged' Christians.

The tree ornaments, on sale at also have a lesbian version with two Virgin Marys sitting beside a baby Jesus Christ, who is lying in a manger.

Campaign group Christian Concern has branded the decorations, created by a California-based designer, a blasphemous attempt to rewrite the Christmas story . Chief executive Andrea Williams whinged:

These decorations are a desperate and ridiculous attempt to pretend that homosexual relationships are pure and holy.

They blasphemously portray the Lord Jesus being parented by a homosexual couple. What depths will the LGBT lobby stoop to in order to try and normalise their behaviour?

God's design is for children to grow up with a male and a female parent. The Lord Jesus was parented in this way, and this is what is best for children.

The LGBT lobby is not interested in the welfare of children but only in pursuing its own selfish agenda. Trying to rewrite the Christmas story is their latest self-deception.

Artist Mark Thaler, from California, designed the decorations for his company Pride and More, responded:

Not everyone's viewpoints are the same. People need to coexist and not judge one another. It's just an image. They need to focus on themselves and not worry about what everyone else is doing.

Update: Censored

21st December 2016. See  article from

California-based artist Mark Thaler, who created the decorations, appears to have now removed them from sale. He had initially told the newspaper he would consider removing them out of respect for his fellow humans .

The decorations are no longer listed on Zazzle.



The Evangelical Alliance recommends...

A new board game, Santa vs Jesus

Link Here 4th December 2016
A campaign group, the Evangelical Alliance, has claimed that a new Christmas themed board games is offensive, shocking and blasphemous .

Santa vs Jesus , made by London company Komo Games, is played by two teams - one for each of the festive figures - who battle through challenges in an attempt to win the most believers .

It was funded via crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter which said it was the most complained about game in history . But fans have called it good fun .

Danny Webster, spokesperson for the Evangelical Alliance, whinged about the game, saying he believes:

It trivialises Christian belief and equates them both as fictional characters. With over 4 out of 10 people in the UK mistakenly thinking that Jesus was not a real historical person, this game won't help correct that.

At its heart Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus and the gift of life he brings. Santa comes from the story of St Nicholas who as a Christian bishop was generous to the poor and was very happy to have Christ as his king.

When it comes to Santa vs Jesus, we're firmly on Team Jesus too. Image copyright Santa vs Jesus Image caption A promotional video for the board game involves the creators acting as Santa and Jesus while singing a jauntily catchy tune and sparring with one other

One of the creators of the game, Julian Miller, says:

Sales are exceeding all expectations and we've had to rush through another order with our manufacturer to keep up with the demand.

The enthusiasm of our family and friends and the rise in popularity of games such as Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens made us realise there was a gap in the market for a funny tongue-in-cheek game pitting Santa against Jesus. For years people have wondered 'who rules Christmas? Santa or Jesus?'



Update: Anything but peace...

Ofcom fines islamic TV channel for bad mouthing jews

Link Here 12th November 2016
Full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
  Britain's TV censor, Ofcom, has fined Peace TV Urdu £65,000 for discriminatory remarks about the jewish community.

Peace TV Urdu is part of  Zakir Naik's Peace TV group based in India. The group is currently under Indian government scrutiny and the process has been initiated to declare them terrorist entities under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The channel is also banned in Bangladesh after the Dhaka Terror Attack on advice of the internal security agencies.

Ofcom found the broadcast of the public lectures by an Islamic scholar highly critical and potentially offensive to the Jewish people. This was broadcast on September 12 and 13 on Peace TV Urdu.

Ofcom highlighted a number of discriminatory remarks made about the Jewish people as an ethnic group in the lectures delivered by Islamic scholar Israr Ahmed who died in April 2010. The role and actions of the Jewish people through history from c.1500 to the present day were examined in the lectures that had comments like this cursed people, this cursed race , found to be offensive under Ofcom's rules.

Ofcom observes that the breach of the code was serious as the content included numerous examples of overwhelmingly negative and stereotypical references to Jewish people which, in its view, were a form of hate speech.  The sanctions document notes:

Ofcom was concerned that the highly critical and negative statements made about Jewish people , uninterrupted by an individual likely to be held in high status by the viewers of Peace TV Urdu had the clear potential to cause harm by portraying Jewish people in highly negative terms.

Peace TV expressed its sincere regret and acknowledged that the programme should not have been broadcast.



Updated: Whenever politicians speak of 'balance' they are taking our freedoms away...

And Theresa May notably fails to support free speech when asked about Louis Smith and insults about religion

Link Here 4th November 2016

National Secular Society protests decision to suspend Louis Smith after he mocked Islam

The National Secular Society has written an open letter to British Gymnastics calling on the body to reverse the two month suspension given to athlete Louis Smith for mocking Islam.

The sporting body suspended Smith for two months and gave fellow athlete Luke Carson a reprimand over a video in which the two mocked Islamic prayer.

President of the National Secular Society Terry Sanderson wrote to British Gymnastics that's its own censorious actions had caused far more harm than Smith and Carson's mockery of Islam.

In an open letter Mr Sanderson said that:

British Gymnastics has contributed to a climate of censorship brought on by the unreasonable and reactionary views of religious extremists.

Rather than defending free expression, one of the most precious pillars of our liberal democratic society, you have chosen instead to side with extremists and patronise British Muslims by assuming they will take offence at the trivial actions of these two athletes.

British Gymnastics' condemnation and punishment of Louis Smith and Luke Carson will only serve to embolden the religious extremists who reject free speech and religious tolerance by demanding that Islam must not be mocked.

We urge you to consider whether by taking the actions it has, British Gymnastics has further endangered the safety of these two athletes by giving succour to those who seek to silence all criticism and mockery of their religion.

British Gymnastics' Standards of Conduct prohibits athletes from making offensive jokes or remarks. The National Secular Society has now called on British Gymnastics to revise its code of conduct to protect athletes' freedom of expression.

Offsite Comment: Je suis Louis Smith

Why we must be free to mock Islam. By Brendan O'Neill

3rd November 2016. See article from

Update: Parliamentary Questions

4th November 2016. See  article from

Yesterday in parliament Tory MP Charles Walker was speaking about the chilling vilification of Louis Smith and accused politicians of having looked the other way over death threats to Smith.

During Prime Minister's Questions, he told MPs:

When people make fun of Christianity in this country, it rightly turns the other cheek.

When a young gymnast, Louis Smith, makes fun of another religion widely practised in this country, he is hounded on Twitter by the media and suspended by his association.

For goodness sake, this man received death threats and we have all looked the other way.

My question to the Prime Minister is this: what is going on in this country because I no longer understand the rules

In response, Theresa May seemed to affirm that freedom of speech has been repealed and that the criticism of islam is now officially considered off limits. She said:

I understand the level of concern that you have raised in relation to this matter. This is a balance that we need to find.

We value freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country -- that is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy ... BUT ... we also value tolerance to others. We also value tolerance in relation to religions.

This is one of the issues that we have looked at in the counter-extremism strategy that the Government has produced.

I think we need to ensure that yes it is right that people can have that freedom of expression. ..BUT... in doing so that right has a responsibility too.

And that is a responsibility to recognise the importance of tolerance to others.

Offsite Comment: British Gymnastics needs to get off its high horse

4th November 2016. See  article from . By Marina Hyde

Offsite Comment:  Islam is trying to make itself untouchable

4th November 2016. See article from



Censorship denied...

Extremist's libel claim against the BBC's Sunday Politics for describing him as an extremist turned down by court on the grounds that the BBC's comment were true

Link Here 28th October 2016

A libel claim brought against the BBC by Chief Imam, Shakeel Begg, has been dismissed today.

Begg, the Chief Imam at Lewisham Islamic Centre, sought damages against the BBC for libel in respect of a broadcast of Sunday Politics presented by Andrew Neil on BBC One, 3 November 2013. He denied being an extremist speaker who had recently promoted and encouraged religious violence by telling Muslims that it would constitute a man's greatest deeds.

Today in a written judgment The Honourable Mr Justice Haddon-Cave dismissed the claim stating that:

Shakeel Begg was something of a Jekyll and Hyde character whose speeches and postings, represent an overwhelming case of justification for the BBC, and that he clearly promotes and encourages violence in support of Islam and espouses a series of extremist Islamic positions.

A BBC Spokesperson said:

We were right to stand by the journalism of Sunday Politics. The judge has concluded, based on the evidence, that Imam Begg has preached religious violence and an extremist worldview in his remarks.

The trial took place between 27 June and 1 July 2016. The BBC defended the case on the basis that the broadcast was substantially true relying upon evidence from six speeches given by Begg to a variety of Muslim audiences between 2006 and 2011.


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