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Jul 09 2013

Channel 4′s daily call to prayers for Ramadan same old, same old

Channel 4 is airing the Muslim call to prayer during Ramadan every morning and also broadcasting a series of programmes about Ramadan. It says it is doing so as a deliberate act of “provocation” to challenge viewers who associate Islam with terrorism and extremism.

Far from being provocative, however, it is just more of the same old, same old.

Whilst people have innumerable characteristics that define them, Channel 4 is again promoting a portrayal of Muslims as one dimensional religious beings that always fasts and like to hear the call to prayers.

What about all the Muslims (and ex-Muslims) who can’t stand to hear the call to prayers? or who don’t fast during Ramadan? There is a movement of eating during Ramadan as a way of challenging laws that make it an offence to eat in public. Here’s one example of people being arrested for “inciting public eating during Ramadan” but of course none of these will be shown on Channel 4.

Rather than being provocative, Channel 4 is feeding into the narrative that all Muslims are religious and conservative and fast during Ramadan. Something Islamists insist upon thereby justifying their attacks on those who refuse to fast or transgress their vile norms.

Religion is meant to be a private matter, lived in a myriad of ways. Often religion is not even an integral part of many people’s lives but of course that’s irrelevant for Channel 4.

As an aside, the call to prayers makes the hairs on my neck stand up. It has always been background noise during executions and attacks on the public in Iran.

Channel 4: want to do something really provocative? Show “Muslims” and ex-Muslims living every day lives, eating, laughing, loving, opposing Sharia, leaving Islam, defending secularism and women’s equality or gay rights and living without religion. Show them as 21st century human beings and citizens with countless characteristics like everyone else. Not just as Muslims and a certain type of Muslim at that.

But of course that is too much to ask…

As for me I will be eating extra this month.

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  1. 1
    Dom Field

    As for me I will be eating extra this month.

    So will many “fasting” Muslims – in their evening banquets and early morning binges.

    1. 1.1
      rafiqmahmood

      Exactly so, Dom. Here in Indonesia the food industry works overtime and production goes into overdrive. KFC are advertising “Extra Large Ramadhan Specials”. Throughout the “Muslim World” the number of deaths related to over-eating (cardio-vascular disease and diabetes) increases during this month (I don’t have the statistics, but I am sure others can back this up).

      I shall be eating as normally but I shall not be sleeping as normal. There are fireworks throughout the night and there are drum performances from 2am to remind people to start cooking. The usual performance of religious nonsense over the mosque loudspeakers BEFORE the morning adhan starts earlier than the usual 4:15 and is louder. Children run riot in the streets with drums and raucous behaviour right up to midnight. The pandemonium of Ramadhan reaches its climax at Eid when it is 48 hours of non-stop noise.

      Perhaps Channel Four could broadcast that. It would be a fairer reflection of what it is like to live in the “Muslim World”.

  2. 2
    Nick Butcher

    I’m with Dom. As I understand it, and from the spectacles I witnessed every night during an Egyptian holiday during Ramadan, those observing ‘tradition’ and fasting during the day tend to stuff their faces as soon as sundown arrives.

    The whole thing is just a charade, just like Christmas for most so-called Christians.

  3. 3
    jimmyj

    Great article. Growing up in east London, I had (and still have) many muslim friends at school. During ramadan many of them would go to the chicken shop at lunch time safely away from their parents eyes, then go home pretending to feel hungry in the afternoons.

  4. 4
    Jesper Both Pedersen

    Great post and bon appetit.

  5. 5
    Allison Asgyer Stevens

    Great Article!! And I am Muslim…And no matter how many times Muslims like me try to be heard we are never listened to…

  6. 6
    NotOphelia

    Quote from Ophelia Benson reproduced without permission from her blogpost re Maryam’s post (I don’t anticipate any objection)
    “It’s also not really “provocative” to support an institution that already has massive, unaccountable, fundamentally authoritarian power. Religions don’t need help; it’s the victims of religion who need help.”
    I agree with both posts

  7. 7
    lorn

    I think I shall start a Ramadan tradition: For the duration, the extent practicable, I will have a celebratory noontime BLT, wash it down with a beer, followed by, assuming the cooperation of my beloved, a quickie and a smoke. Given the duration I may substitute ham or sausage for the bacon, and may Irish some coffee instead of downing a beer but it, I’m sure, everyone will overlook the deviation and appreciate the heartfelt need to celebrate such an important religious event.

  8. 8
    Henk

    “As for me I will be eating extra this month.”
    I wouldn’t do that if I were you, if you’re obese you should lose weight, not gain it.

  1. 9
    Transgress their vile norms » Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] is annoyed by channel 4′s “provocative” call to prayer during [...]

  2. 10
    Channel 4 – Report on this! » Maryam Namazie

    [...] my previous post I mentioned how Channel 4 should report on the many who refuse to fast and who are threatened into [...]

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