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.
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 .
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
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.
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
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