A Muslim radio station, which ordered listeners to give the advice of non-Muslim doctors “no importance”, has been found in breach of Ofcom rules.
The regulator found that Nottingham’s Radio Dawn had breached two rules: by broadcasting offensive comments about non-Muslims, and giving listeners potentially dangerous medical advice.
During a segment in the South Asian language Punjabi, a religious scholar, or “mufti”, instructed a diabetic caller not to listen to non-Mulsim doctors who advised them to avoid fasting for long periods.
“If it is a non-Muslim doctor who is giving the advice, well their advice carries no weight. It has no importance whatsoever,” he said.
“What you have to do is check who is giving the advice. A proper Muslim doctor who is religious will not give you wrong advice,” he added.
The regulator launched an investigation following a complaint, and explained in their ruling:
“In Ofcom’s view, the advice provided could clearly have led listeners with diabetes – a potentially serious health condition – to either refrain from seeking medical advice because their doctor was not a practising Muslim, or to disregard or otherwise question legitimate medical advice.”
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They added that the “mufti did not make clear that he was not medically qualified.”
However, they express some sympathy with the station, insisting: “We acknowledged that Radio Dawn is aimed at the Muslim community and this programme offered the opportunity for members of this community to seek religious guidance from a Mufti.”
Secondly, the radio did not “ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context”.
Whilst Ofcom “acknowledged that some listeners to the programme may prefer to consult a Muslim doctor”, the segment was said to be “discriminatory and potentially offensive, not only to non-Muslim people, but also to members of the Muslim community”.
Karimia, the station’s owners, had apologised and told Ofcom that “on no account was it the intention of the presenter or Radio Dawn to suggest to listeners that they do not seek appropriate medical advice”.