LONDON: Popular satellite channel Peace TV, which features Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik, is being investigated by Britain’s telecommunications regulator Ofcom over its apparent ‘extremist message’, according to press reports.
Urdu and English versions of the channel can be viewed in the UK through satellite television. Dr Zakir Naik is founder and president of the channel. According to reports, Ofcom is pursuing the investigation after a single complaint by a viewer.
Dr Naik’s entry was banned from the UK last summer on the basis that it would not be conducive ‘to the public good’.
Giving reasons for the proposed move, Home Secretary Theresa May quoted Naik’s assertion that ‘every Muslim should be a terrorist’ and his apparent support for Osama bin Laden.
Before the Conservative Party came into power last year it had expressed its intention to ban the use of satellite technology to broadcast the views of ‘excluded Islamic preachers’ based abroad.
Despite the government’s exclusion order, the prestigious Oxford Union debating society last week invited Dr Naik to address the Union via satellite link from India on ‘Islam in the 21st century’.
In the course of his speech and the subsequent question answer session, Dr Naik claimed that portions of his speeches had been quoted out of context, that his ‘mission was to spread peace’ and he ‘condemns all forms of terrorism’.
Dr Naik also expressed his faith that the exclusion order will be reversed. “I hope I will have the chance to meet the home secretary personally and explain to her the peaceful message of Islam,” he said.
Youtube contains many posts of Dr Naik’s speeches. In an extract from one lecture, seven minutes 30 seconds long, he says about bin Laden: “If he is fighting the enemies of Islam, if he is terrorising the terrorist, America, the biggest terrorist, I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist. The thing is if he is terrorising a terrorist, he’s following Islam. Whether he is or not, I don’t know.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2011.