Rehmatul Lil Alameen
DM Digital, 9 October 2011, 18:30
DM Digital is a television channel primarily aimed at an Asian audience in the UK, which features broadcasts in a number of languages including English, Punjabi, Urdu, Sindhi, Kashmiri and Hindi. The service is also received in the Middle East and parts of Asia. The licence for this channel is held by DM Digital Television Limited.
The programme above, which was in Urdu and was approximately one hour in duration, featured a presenter who introduced an Islamic Pir (a religious scholar) who delivered a live televised lecture about points of Islamic theology with reference to the shooting dead in early 2011 of the Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer by his bodyguard Malik Mumtaz Qadri. Salmaan Taseer had been a vocal critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
This law punishes derogatory remarks against notable figures in Islam and carries a potential death sentence for anyone who insults or is judged to blaspheme against the Prophet Mohammed. At certain points the presenter of the programme made comments or asked the religious scholar for clarification.
A viewer alerted Ofcom to statements made during the programme that it was acceptable to murder any person thought to have shown disrespect to the Prophet Mohammed, and that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community was an acceptable target for murder. The Ahmadiyya religion is a comparatively small Islamic movement founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani that grew out of mainstream Islam in the nineteenth century, whose followers believe themselves to be true Muslims.
Ofcom noted in particular the following remarks from the Islamic scholar’s lecture:
Under the guidance from Islamic texts it is evident that if a Muslim apostatises, then it is not right to wait for the authorised courts; anyone may kill him. An apostate deserves to be killed and any man may kill him. For this, you do not need to contact the authorised courts. Because the prophet did not question Omar’s act.
…if someone denies the existence of God, you may have a defensive war with them but if someone insults the Prophet, you should not be defensive but you should aggressively attack them. You should go to their homes and fight them there.
The man who has killed [Salmaan Taseer] has done an act of great love and proved his loyalty. It was his duty to do so. Some people say that he was supposed to guard [Salmaan Taseer] but a man’s first duty is to protect his father and Abu Ubaydah killed his own father because the latter denied the apostolate of Prophet Mohammed….When Abu Ubaydah killed his father, Allah praised him because he had killed in the love of the Prophet Muhammed. Such an act does not fall into the category of terrorism.
I hail those who made this law [i.e. Pakistan's blasphemy law] which states that one who insults the Prophet deserves to be killed – such a person should be eliminated.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules, in particular Rule 3.1
We are also aware of various and very serious threats and attacks made in Western countries in recent years against individuals or entities perceived as insulting or making pejorative remarks about the Prophet Mohammed . The possibility of remarks like those of the Islamic scholar in this case encouraging crime or disorder is therefore in Ofcom’s opinion likely.
Ofcom concluded that the statements quoted above when assessed in context did amount to direct calls to action and were likely to incite or encourage crime or to lead to disorder. It is clear from the statements above that the scholar went beyond merely stating what the blasphemy law of Pakistan was. He did not issue any direct death threats, but he commented on and praised the law in such a way that, in Ofcom’s view, his comments were likely to encourage crime or disorder against those perceived to insult or make pejorative remarks about leading Islamic figures and the Prophet Mohammed in particular, and against apostates. In Ofcom’s opinion this result was likely whether the remarks were seen by Muslim viewers of Pakistani origin who were already aware of Pakistan’s blasphemy law or not.
Ofcom considered this a breach of Rule 3.1:
Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television and radio services
The breach of Rule 3.1 in this case is regarded by Ofcom as a serious breach of the Code. This is because Ofcom views any incident where a licensee has allowed content to be broadcast that is likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder as a significant contravention of the Code. In this Broadcast Bulletin, Ofcom has also recorded serious breaches of the Code against DM Digital, which Ofcom is also considering for the imposition of a statutory sanction .
Ofcom therefore puts the Licensee on notice that we will consider this breach for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
DM Digital, 25 November 2011, 19:00 and 4 December 2011, 21:00
Ofcom also found another programme from DM Digital similarly in breach of their rules and is also to be considered for sanction.