Channel 4, a major UK television channel, will show Islamic services on air and issue the call to prayer, the adhan, during Ramadan. The executives hope viewers who associated Islam with extremism will re-think their position.
Channel 4 will deliberately 'provoke viewers' by sounding a live call to prayer over the Ramadan period (which begins on Tuesday 9th July). They hope it will educate bigoted viewers who associate Islam with terrorism. A spokesperson for the Muslim Council said the organisation is grateful to Channel 4 for providing an opportunity to "portray a more realistic account of Islam and Muslims". The spokesperson went on to say this consideration is "symbolic for belonging and solidarity".
Ahmed Ahmed at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival Reception, Beverly Hills Hilton.
In doing so Channel 4 has opened itself up to criticism by other religious and secular groups. They have been warned to keep their coverage in check. However, it has been pointed out by secular groups that the BBC covers a large number of Christian ceremonies and occasions. Less than 60% of the population are Christians (according to the 2011 Census).
This announcement comes in the wake of the Woolwich soldier incident in which two men, who held Islamic extremist views, killed soldier Lee Rigby. The isolated incident caused a number of attacks, carried out by far right-wing groups, on mosques around the country.
Shohreh Aghdashloo at the 2009 BAFTA's
A little knowledge truly is a dangerous thing. Hopefully in showing on a mainstream network the religious practises of others, people around the country can understand more about each other's beliefs, practises and way of life.
We can only live in hope.
Islam is a minority religion in the UK, approximately 5% of the population will be participating in Ramadan. Muslims around the world will be following this fast, including celebrities such as Muhammad Ali, comedian Ahmed Ahmed and actor Shohreh Aghdashloo.
Muhammad Ali at the 2008 Keep Memory Alive Foundation Gala in Las Vegas.