UK community radio station shut down over Al Qaeda broadcasts

UK community radio station shut down over Al Qaeda broadcasts

UK community radio station shut down over Al Qaeda broadcasts
An Islamic community radio station in the UK has lost its licence for broadcasting 25 hours of lectures by Al Qaeda recruiter Alman al-Awlaki.

Sheffield-based Iman FM was found in breach of broadcast norms by the UK's Office of Communications (Ofcom) for airing the lectures titled 'The Life of Mohammed' by the America-born radical cleric during the holy month of Ramazan between May 26 and June 16.

The station claimed that it was unaware of the background of the preacher, who was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

"Ofcom has decided that it is necessary in the public interest to revoke the licensee's Broadcasting Act licence, and that the licensee is unfit to hold a broadcast licence. The service has been off-air since July 4 and will not be reinstated," said an Ofcom spokesperson.

The media regulator's investigation found that Al Awlaki's lectures included "a direct call to action to members of the Muslim community to prepare for and carry out violent action against non-Muslim people" and "statements clearly condoning and encouraging acts of crime, terrorism or violent behaviour".

The watchdog said the content, including calls for "virtuous jihad" and anti-Semitic statements, was in "serious breach" of the broadcasting code amounting to hate speech, justifying terrorism, inciting violence and encouraging crime.

The station, run by Iman Media UK which has been on air since October 2014, was suspended following complaints on July 4 and has had its licence revoked this week after representations from the owners failed to save keep it on air.

Iman FM said it "fully accepted" that breaches had taken place but insisted to Ofcom they were due to "recklessness, but not deliberate intent".

Iman FM stands for the Institute of Media Arts and Naats and its chief executive is listed as Mohammed Shabbir Mughal, who has set up other radio stations for the Muslim community in the Sheffield area since 2000, including RadioHajj.

It told Ofcom's investigation that it had broadcast the lectures because the regular presenter for its breakfast show was not available during the month of Ramazan.

The radio station, which apologised to listeners in June for the broadcast, admitted that its compliance procedures had failed.

The management of Iman FM said: "We are disappointed with Ofcom's decision to revoke our licence. We are currently working with our legal team in looking at any further legal options. We will not be making any further comment at this stage."
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