Rage on the right, love on the left: Britain erupts at Channel 4's Ramadan plan
Muslims attend Friday prayers in the sunshine at the BBC Community Centre in the Spitalfields area, London, UK (Getty)
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News on Monday that UK television's Channel 4 is to broadcast the call to prayer, or 'adhan' in Arabic, over the Ramadan period has provoked mixed feelings in Britain.
The prestigious broadcaster's Head of Factual Programming Ralph Lee had said the channel would act be a “deliberate ‘provocation’ to all our viewers”, including some who might associate Islam with extremism.
Indeed, Britain's tabloid and right-leaning press were quick to criticise the move, with the Sun entitling one of its article ""Holy month ‘bigger than the Jubilee’".
Both the Sun and The Express newspapers also quoted an unnamed spokesman for the UK Independence Party, UKIP, as saying that Channel 4 " knows people will be angered by this and it can’t be good for community relations." UKIP is a populist, anti-Europe and anti-immigration group, that has called for the burka to be banned, and is perceived by many as upholding racist views.
On the left, an opinion piece in Tuesday's The New Statesman magazine, praised Channel 4's decision, saying that "too often there is a misinformation regarding Ramadan and a media bias that places Muslims and Islam in the same context as acts of terrorism. For once, a mainstream British media channel will allow the wider public to see a true reflection of Islam and make up their minds in an informed manner.
Channel 4 said the broadcast of the 'adhan' was also intended to enlarge the platform for moderate Muslim voices in Britain, particularly in the wake of the killing of a British soldier in London, in an act linked to Islamic extremism.