Extremism on the Airwaves

By Emma Webb

A new report from the Henry Jackson Society think tank reveals that the personal TV station of Zakir Naik, a prominent pro-Jihad preacher linked to the Glasgow airport bomber, continues to hold a UK broadcast license.  The station listed Naik with Companies House as a director until May this year – two months after the Henry Jackson Society first published details of Naik’s links to the station. Peace TV is financed by Naik’s ‘charity’, Islamic Research Foundation International, an organisation whose charitable objective is to fund the station.

 Founded in 2006, Peace TV (Channel 733 Sky) has repeatedly broadcast speeches by prominent Islamist preachers with links to global Jihad.  Among those it has featured is Bilal Philips – also banned from entering the UK – who was named by the US as an ‘unindicted co-conspirator’ in the 1993 plot to bomb the World Trade Centre.  The station has been repeatedly sanctioned by Ofcom for individual infractions of the Broadcast Code, finding it to have broadcast extremist content.  Despite this – in what the report’s author calls a “material failure” to apply its powers – Ofcom has failed to revoke Peace TV’s license under its ‘fit and proper’ powers.

Naik is best known for claiming that “every Muslim should be a terrorist”, in a 2006 speech in which he refused to condemn Osama Bin Laden.  He is also an avowed anti-Semite, who has claimed the Koran calls Jews the “staunchest enemies” of Muslims.   Naik fled India after the National Investigative Agency registered a series of cases against him in 2016 under anti-terror and money laundering laws.

In 2010, Naik was banned by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, from entering the UK on the basis that his entrance would “not be conducive to the public good”.  The decision, which was later upheld by the High Court, came three years after one of Naik’s followers, Kafeel Ahmed launched a terror attack on Glasgow airport.  David Cameron described Naik as a hate preacher in a 2015 speech to the Community Security Trust, boasting of the Government’s decision to ban him.

The report also highlights a further three channels it says have faced an ‘insufficient’ and ‘concerning’ lack of regulatory scrutiny.  One of those, Huda TV, is a station that the report identifies as hosting nine extremist commentators, including Haitham al-Haddad who was the subject of an investigation by The Times last month. The investigation disclosed a catalogue of extremist views and statements.

The author of the report, Emma Webb, a Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, commented:

“The Broadcasting Act explicitly requires Ofcom to ensure licensees are ‘fit and proper’.  It is difficult to imagine an individual less fit to hold a license than Zakir Naik.  Not revoking Peace TV’s Licence under the ‘fit and proper’ requirement constitutes a material failure by Ofcom to exercise its statutory authority. 

Peace TV is Zakir Naik’s personal TV channel. Ofcom must immediately revoke Peace TV’s broadcasting licence on the grounds that they are not ‘fit and proper’ to hold it.  A further three channels, all of which have concerning links to known extremists have received insufficient regulatory oversight.

 It is obvious that an individual who is banned from entering the country is unfit to hold a broadcasting licence.  It makes a mockery of the whole system to ban someone from entering the country because they are not ‘conducive to the public good’ but then allow them to access UK audiences for a further eight years.

For more than a decade, Peace TV has hosted extremist speakers and has repeatedly fallen foul of the Broadcasting Code over extreme content – yet their license remains.”

 In a statement, OFCOM claimed:

“We are currently concluding six detailed investigations into Peace TV, under Ofcom rules that protect audiences from hate speech, offence and the incitement of crime. We will announce the outcome of those investigations soon. We have a clear track record, which this report recognises, of tackling harmful content and taking action against those responsible – including taking channels off air.”

Read the full report here: Extremism on the Airwaves Report

HJS



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