A British charity that raises money for a Dubai-based Muslim missionary TV channel faces a fine as high as £250,000 ($347,000) over broadcasts containing anti-Semitic content.
According to The Times of London, the Islamic Research Foundation International, based in Birmingham and indirectly funded by UK tax breaks, has given most of its charitable income in the past two years to Peace TV.
The station is headed by Zakir Naik, a Muslim preacher who is also a trustee of the foundation, and who was banned from Britain in 2010 over extremist statements that were “on their face supportive of Osama bin Laden, anti-Jewish and otherwise unacceptable,” according to court documents quoted by the Times.
Last week, Peace TV was reprimanded by British broadcasting authorities over the broadcast last year of lectures by an Islamic scholar named Israr Ahmad, who died in 2010, that seemed to blame Jews for the Holocaust.
“That is the mark of this cursed race, that despite God’s divine grace they do not take advantage of the opportunity to repent, which is why they are afflicted by great calamities and the example is what happened to them at the hands of the Germans,” Ahmad said in a Peace TV Urdu broadcast last year, British officials have found.
The 24-hour channel is indirectly funded by British tax write-offs, the Times found, as IRFI got £77,000 ($107,000) in tax relief over its donations in 2015, a year in which fully £770,000 ($1.1m) of its total income of £972,000 ($1.35m) was donated to Peace TV. In 2014, that figure was over £1m ($1.4m) out of £1.16m ($1.61m) raised.
IRFI is an Islamic missionary organization which describes its aim as supporting “the proper presentation, understanding and appreciation of Islam.” Peace TV, whose English service launched in 2006, claims a viewership of 100 million people worldwide, one-quarter of whom it says are not Muslims. The Times noted that it also has a history of troubling messages, with a 2009 broadcast that “appeared to approve of domestic violence” and a 2012 one in which Naik himself “seemed to endorse the killing of Muslims who renounced their faith.”
Its latest broadcast may have stepped over the line of UK broadcast rules, and Britain’s charities regulator, the Charity Commission, said it may take action against IRFI over the “very harmful and highly offensive” content in the 2015 broadcast.
Peace TV apologized for the most recent misstep, with a spokesperson saying it was a “horrendous mistake,” and that “steps have been taken to make sure this cannot happen again.”