Britain’s Office of Communications fined a Muslim TV station for broadcasting a call to murder.
The offending channel, Noor TV, is based in Birmingham and presents programs in English, Urdu and Punjabi. During a call-in program in May 2012, host Allama Muhammad Farooq Nizami was asked about the proper response to those who don’t respect Mohammed. He replied, “We are ready, and should be ready at all times, to kill a blasphemer.”
The remarks promptly resulted in viewer complaints, and the Office of Communications — known locally as OfCom — on Wednesday handed down a fine of 85,000 pounds, or slightly more than $132,000. The penalty fell far short of the maximum allowed by British law, 250,000.
In its judgment, OfCom noted that Noor TV has not apologized for the on-air remarks, though it did issue a “clarification” six months after they were made. Nevertheless, OfCom said the fine — one-third of the maximum possible — was appropriate because it signaled deference to the station’s “freedom of expression.”
Al Ehya Digital Television, the Birmingham-based company that owns Noor TV, fired Nizami in May of this year — 12 months after the inflammatory broadcast — for “promoting personal political opinion and supporting a violent act.”
Wednesday’s fine follows other recent penalties imposed after broadcasts of Muslims calling for violence. In July, the Digital DM channel was ordered to pay 85,000 pounds following a program in which an Islamic scholar called it a “duty” for Muslims to kill those who disrespect Mohammed.
In December, Leeds-based Radio Asian Fever was told to pay 4,000 pounds (roughly $6,230) for a broadcast in which viewers heard that the proper treatment of gays is to “torture them; punish them; beat them and give them mental torture.”