Ofcom may close TV station over show condoning murder for blasphemy

Guardian: A British TV channel that aired a lecture saying it is acceptable to murder someone who has shown disrespect to the prophet Muhammad is facing a significant fine or potentially even closure by Ofcom.

Ofcom has taken the unprecedented step of ruling that DM Digital, which targets the Asian market with programming in languages including English, Punjabi, Urdu, Kashmiri and Hindi, is the first UK broadcaster to break the broadcasting code for airing material “likely to encourage or incite the commission of a crime or lead to disorder”.

Because of the serious nature of the breach of the code Ofcom said that it is now considering imposing a statutory sanction, and the media regulator’s sanctions committee will now consider options including fining DM Digital or even revoking the company’s broadcast licence.

DM Digital, which is licensed in the UK, also broadcasts to the Middle East and parts of Asia.

Last October DM Digital aired a one hour programme in Urdu in which an Islamic religious scholar lectured about theology and discussed the killing of Salmaan Taseer, a Punjab governor and critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, who was assassinated by his bodyguard Malik Mumtaz Qadri last year.


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  1. Bravo to Ofcom for taking a principled stance. Blasphemy laws are used in Pakistan to not only curb debate and discussion on extremist mulla’s version of Islam, but are also being used by individuals to settle personal scores.

    Consider this. If someone doesn’t like you – for any reason – they could accuse you of blasphemy and the police would be obligated to arrest you. There can be no bail, because blasphemy is a capital offense (yes, the punishment for blasphemy is death). No lawyer will defend you because defending blasphemy would be blasphemy too (and anyone could kill the lawyer with impunity). If you were to defend yourself in court, no judge would acquit you, because that would be blasphemous (according to mulla) and the judge’s life would be in danger.

    It’s a vicious law, and Salman Taseer had only called for a review of this law to ensure it was not being abused. But that was blasphemy too, so his bodyguard murdered him. The bodyguard became a hero and lawyers in Pakistan marched in support of his release. Salman Taseer’s fellow assemblymen were too scared for their lives to participate in his funeral ceremony.

    So any ‘scholar’ who defends blasphemy laws is definitely “likely to encourage or incite the commission of a crime or lead to disorder”. This kind of rhetoric encourages vigilantism, as was witnessed a couple of years ago in Pakistan when a similar ‘scholar’ opined on GEO TV that Ahmadis were fit to be killed, and within days two Ahmadis were murdered.

    I hope and pray Ofcom’s courageous action will have far-reaching effect.

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