Islamic TV channel broadcast hate speech against Jews, says Ofcom

Guest on discussion show said claimed Jews cause antisemitism by 'impoverishing' others


An Islamic TV channel breached rules against hate speech when a participant in a live discussion claimed that Jews caused antisemitism by impoverishing other people, Ofcom has found. 

The regulator said that Ahlebait TV, which broadcasts to the Shia community in the UK, aired several statements which amounted “to hate speech against, and derogatory and abusive treatment of Jewish people”. 

The comments were made during an edition of 20th Hour about “Money Power, Islam and a Just Order”, which was shown in March last year. 

During the course of the discussion, one of the guests, David Musa Pidcock, founder of the now disbanded Islamic Party of Great Britain, claimed that Jews had been expelled from “47 different countries and city states in the last 1,000 years” because they charged interest. 

“Their antisemitism comes from their actions of impoverishing people and they then respond and then they call it antisemitism but we know that it’s because they do and they get punished,” he said. 

He went on: “And as Allah says, you know, he will expel [sentence incomplete] – send them to all corners of the world to be an excoriation and a hissing and a booing to wherever he had sent them. So antisemitism comes from debt, not cancelling the debt, and usury.” 

A second guest, former banker Chris Menzies, added, “It’s worth just noting that antisemitism was created by Theodor Herzl at the back end of the 19th century in order to frighten and create the circumstances that would encourage Jews to migrate to Israel so antisemitism is actually a Jewish creation.” 

Ahlebait told Ofcom that it had broadcast an apology on two days in June last year for the “potentially offensive antisemitic remarks” by Mr Pidcock and had decided to take the programme off its website and never repeat it.

The TV channel said that it had subsequently adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. 

While Ahlebait accepted the comments were “highly regrettable and should never have been broadcast”, Ofcom said, initially it did not believe they amounted to hate speech; but it later accepted the watchdog’s preliminary finding that they did. 

In its decision published this week, Ofcom said, “We considered that the references to Jewish people practising usury, not cancelling debt and impoverishing people evoked a common derogatory stereotype about Jewish people being disproportionately in control of money lending businesses, being driven by greed and being unwilling to forgo money to the detriment of other people.” 

The reference to divine punishment and “this evocation of a derogatory stereotype was used in the programme to justify the expulsion of Jewish people from various societies and countries throughout history, and to place exclusive blame for this persecution on Jewish people themselves,” Ofcom said. 

It also took into account that “Mr Menzies falsely accused a key Jewish figure and Jewish people of creating antisemitism”. 

Because the breaches were serious, the channel had been put on notice that it could face sanctions, Ofcom said. 

The CST, which had complained about the broadcast, said, “We are pleased that Ofcom agreed to censure Ahlebait TV following their broadcast of such extreme, vile antisemitism. Importantly, Ofcom used the IHRA working definition of antisemitism to reach their judgement and the channel have now agreed to adopt the definition themselves."

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive