The media regulator of the United Kingdom – Ofcom has slapped a fine of £300,000 (around Rs 2.75 crore) against radical Islamic preacher and terrorist influencer Zakir Naik’s Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu for broadcasting hate speech and “highly offensive” content in the country.
The UK communications services regulator imposed a fine on the holding company of Peace TV, Lord Communications, a total of £100,000 while Club TV which owns Peace TV Urdu was slapped with a penalty of £200,000 for violating its broadcasting rules.
Peace TV Urdu is owned by Cub TV and Lord Productions Limited holds the licence of Peace TV. The two media group have the Universal Broadcasting Corporation Limited as their parent company which is owned by Zakir Naik, a 54-year-old radical Islamist preacher from Mumbai.
In a statement issued on May 5, Ofcom said, “Our investigations found that programmes broadcast on Peace TV Urdu and Peace TV contained hate speech and highly offensive content, which in one instance was likely to incite crime.”
The statement further added, “We concluded that the content represented serious failures of compliance with our broadcasting rules, which warranted fines. The former licence holders, Club TV and Lord Production, must now pay £200,000 and £100,000 respectively to HM Paymaster General.”
The cases against Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu
The case of Peace TV relates to one episode of ‘Strengthening your Family’ broadcast on the channel on 11 March 2018. This episode, which was titled Valley of the Homosexuals, focussed on the issue of homosexuality and Islam. In the program, the presenter Qasim Khan made a series of statements about homosexuality including: comparing homosexual people to animals, specifically a pig which the speaker referred to as an animal which was “nasty and corrupted”; asserting that homosexual people contract disease (by implication HIV and AIDS) “because they are homosexual”; and, describing the practice of homosexuality as insane, corrupt and a manifestation of satanic influence. Ofcom had found that the program contained uncontextualised hate speech, and amounted to abusive and derogatory treatment of homosexual people, in breach of UK broadcasting rules.
The case of Peace TV Urdu was for an episode of the series Kitaab-ut- Tawheed aired on 22 November 2017. This episode focused on the Islamic punishment of magicians, and those who practise magic, and appeared to advocate their execution, as per the Ofcom report on the episode. After the due process, the regulator had concluded that the program contained harmful and/or offensive material including material containing hatred, abusive and derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities.
Broadcasts of both Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu were stopped after the regulator had suspended their licences. Subsequently both the channels had surrendered their licences last year.
Islamic terror influencer Zakir Naik
Radical Islamist Zakir Naik, a Mumbai-born 53-year-old who is the founder of the controversial ‘Peace TV’ has been living in Malaysia since 2017 after fleeing from India and the previous government there had granted permanent residency to him.
Zakir Naik has been the inspiration for many radicalized individuals in recent times. The terror-influencer Zakir Naik is wanted in both India and Bangladesh on financial and terror-related charges. He is currently in Malaysia, where he is accused by authorities there of trying to break the harmony and spreading against the local communities there.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had said in October last year that most of the 127-odd terrorists arrested by security agencies in India for suspected ISIS links were inspired by the speeches of the radical Islamic preacher currently living in Malaysia.
The controversial Islamic preacher, who reportedly inspired the mastermind of Sri Lanka Easter blasts last year that killed 290 people, had said he does not intend to come back to India as long as the BJP is in power. Naik fled the country in 2016 after Dhaka terror attack.
India’s request to Malaysia for Naik’s extradition
On Thursday, India has formally requested the Malaysian government to extradite fugitive Zakir Naik. Reportedly, the Indian government is taking the issue with Malaysia at the highest level.