Radio Dawn in licence breach for Nasheed

Radio Dawn, a community radio station broadcasting to the Muslim community in Nottingham, has been found in breach of its licence for the broadcast of a Nasheed.

The listener alleged that one of the Nasheeds encouraged listeners to “pick up the sword for Islam” in Urdu on the station previously known as Radio Faza.

A Nasheed is a piece of devotional vocal music that is sung either acapella or accompanied by percussion instruments. One of these, which lasted around 17 minutes, attracted a complaint to Ofcom.

Here is part of the translation:

“The man who stands against falsehood desires the death of a Mujahid10,
And we have the glorious example of Qasim’s11 cry…
…The whole world on one side and the Taliban on the other.
We are required to salute and honour their display of bravery and steadfastness…
It must be understood that justice will only be handed out at the point of the sword”.

Karimia, the licensee, said it was “extremely embarrassed by what happened” and that it did “not agree with any of the content”. The Licensee assured Ofcom it was “against any type of material, which encourages or promotes such discriminative and negative messages of Islam”. It said

Radio Dawn’s aims were to “build trust among communities”; “develop unity, peace amongst the community”; and, “encourage positive messages, education and information, which are beneficial to our communities”. It also provided examples of its “work in the last three months of building bridges to create strong and closely coordinated partnerships between the community, youth, families and governmental organisations”.

Karimia explained that staff were away on holiday on the day of broadcast (26 December 2016) and, as a result, Radio Dawn was automatically broadcasting pre-recorded programming. The Licensee said that this particular content had been downloaded from the internet in 2013, “possibly by a volunteer”, and had “never been broadcast before”. It also said that this Nasheed was from Indian history and “holds a different meaning today to when it was written and needs to be interpreted in that context”.

As a result of this incident, Karimia said it had taken the following actions:

• blocked access to YouTube and the USB drives on the PC in its studio;
• rebuilt its library of Nasheeds “from scratch”;
• arranged more training for volunteers;
• begun “working on a yearly Ofcom Rules and Regulations Broadcasting Code awareness workshop” that would be “compulsory for all presenters”; and,
• started holding regular meetings with its presenters “to discuss any issues and to reinstate the peaceful message of Radio Dawn”.

Finally, Karimia acknowledged the “severity of the matter” and said that it had “tightened [its] procedures for broadcasting to ensure that a similar incident cannot happen again”.

However, Ofcom considered the reference to the Taliban glorified a group which has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation in the UK and found the station in breach.

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