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Radio station apologises and faces sanctions after airing ‘jihadi’ chant

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A community radio station has apologised after an Ofcom investigation found it broadcast a chant in Arabic which contained “jihadi lyrics” that were an “indirect call to action”.

Link FM, which is based in Sheffield, was found to have committed two breaches of the broadcast watchdog’s code by playing a chant – known as a nasheed – twice during two breakfast shows in December last year.

The Pakistan Muslim Centre, the licensee of the radio station, said it “wholeheartedly [apologised] for the error”, adding that the presenter who broadcast the chant did not speak Arabic, and the piece had not been checked before being aired.

It faces sanctions following the Ofcom investigation.

The broadcast watchdog received four complaints with listeners reporting that the nasheed which was aired was called Jundallah and contained “jihadi lyrics” that “promoted terrorism”.

In its report, the watchdog said it understood nasheeds are a “well-established expression of Islamic faith” which have a “benign religious message, and no violent overtones”.

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It added that a type of nasheed known as the “jihadi nasheed”, which has a “war-like tone and tenor and can be used to create a violent jihadi narrative”, has become more prevalent.

Ofcom translated the lyrics of the nasheed that was aired and concluded it breached broadcasting rules.

The watchdog said: “Having carefully assessed the lyrics… we considered it communicated an overarching message to listeners which sought to condone, promote and encourage violent jihad as a legitimate expression of Islamic faith and glorify an ideology associated with jihad, including martyrdom.

“Nasheeds which contain messages like those in Jundallah are used by terrorist groups to attract potential recruits.

“Ofcom considered the content therefore amounted to an indirect call to action which could be likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder.”

It concluded: “Therefore, our decision is that we are minded to consider these breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction.”

The Pakistan Muslim Centre said it was an “unfortunate incident… and one we hope not to repeat again in the future”.

It said the presenter was “extremely sorry and horrified” after reading Ofcom’s translation of the chant.

The Ofcom report added the licensee understood the potential harm that could have arisen but stated it would have been “minimal” as the nasheed was broadcast in Arabic and their listeners largely speak Urdu and English.