A programme on the Islam Channel breached the Ofcom Code when it said Israel was guilty of “poisonous acts” and deemed Jewish people “tyrannical” and as having an “evil mind”, the broadcast regulator has ruled.
The Rightly Guided Khalifas, a religious education series on the history of the Qur’an, was found to have included content which met the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.
The programme claimed that Israel had printed hundreds of thousands of distorted copies of the Qur’an in 1961.
It also alleged Israel “was established on tyranny and oppression” and that it “continues to practise its troublemaking and continues with its poisonous acts with its attempt to change the meaning of the Qur’an.
“It wants the obliteration of our beliefs and religion and in this way, it continues to practise what their forefathers had engaged in the past, particularly in their practice of changing the words in the past.”
Ofcom ruled that the programme, which was narrated in Arabic with English subtitles, broadcast “potentially very harmful and highly offensive antisemitic content” and “represents serious breaches of the Code.”
The watchdog found that the programme “conflated Israel and the Jewish people for both Arabic and English language viewers.
“In our view, the programme ascribed a perpetually negative characteristic to Jewish people; namely corrupting Holy Books and seeking the destruction of Islam in both ancient and more recent times.”
The watchdog decided that through the conflation of Israel and Jewish people “the content characterised Jewish people as ‘tyrannical’ and having an ‘evil mind.’
“Given all these factors, our decision is that the content met Ofcom’s definition of hate speech. We considered these statements were expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Jewish people.”
Ofcom added: “In our view, their broadcast had the potential to promote, encourage and incite such intolerance among viewers.”
The Islam Channel initially told Ofcom that the content in question did “not contain either a direct or indirect call for action and [was] not therefore going to encourage or incite the commission of any crime”.
It added that “viewers [were] not encouraged to spread, incite or promote hatred” and that the programme did not “seek to justify hatred.”
However after hearing Ofcom’s findings, the channel accepted that that the programme breached Rules 3.2, 3.3 and 2.3 of its Code.
It also acknowledged that it did meet the Code’s definition of hate speech and recognised that its broadcast was not justified by the context.
Ofcom said it was putting the licensee on notice and would consider the breaches of the code for the “imposition of a statutory sanction”.