Islamic preacher Zakir Naik was barred from entering Britain in 2010, but he continues to broadcast to millions of British households through his personal television channel, it has been reported.
According to The Independent, Ofcom has been urged to “immediately revoke” the licence of Naik’s television channel Peace TV.
The Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think tank, has accused Ofcom of “a material failure” to protect viewers by revoking the station’s licence.
“The Broadcasting Act explicitly requires Ofcom to ensure licensees are ‘fit and proper’,” Emma Webb, a research fellow at the think tank who has written a report about extremism on television, was quoted as saying by The Independent. “It is difficult to imagine an individual less fit to hold a license than Zakir Naik.”
“Peace TV is Zakir Naik’s personal TV channel,” Webb said. ”Ofcom must immediately revoke Peace TV’s broadcasting licence on the grounds that they are not ‘fit and proper’ to hold it. It is obvious that an individual who is banned from entering the country is unfit to hold a broadcasting licence. It makes a mockery of the whole system to ban someone from entering the country because they are not ‘conducive to the public good’ but then allow them to access UK audiences for a further eight years.”
Naik was banned by Theresa May when she was home secretary after he praised Osama bin Laden and said: “all Muslims should be terrorists”.
“Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behaviour,” May said at the time.
She added: “Coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter the UK.
“Exclusion powers are very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate on issues.”
Peace TV was set up by Naik in 2006 and it is broadcast from Dubai, UAE. Although it has repeatedly fallen foul of broadcasting rules on extreme content but remains available to Sky subscribers on its English and Urdu channels, reported The Independent.
The media regulator, meanwhile, said it had launched “six detailed investigations” earlier this year to find out whether Peace TV had breached regulations that protect audiences from hate speech, offence and the incitement of crime.
An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We will announce the outcome of those investigations soon. We have a clear track record, which this report recognises, of tackling harmful content and taking action against those responsible – including taking channels off the air.”