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Broadcaster refuses Ramadan prayers request

10 June 2016

CITIZEN59/COMMONS

Prayers: Clonskeagh mosque, Dublin 

Prayers: Clonskeagh mosque, Dublin 

A CALL by a leading Irish Muslim cleric for Ramadan prayers to be broadcast by the state broadcaster RTÉ was rejected at the weekend.

Dr Ali Selim, of the Clonskeagh Mosque in south Dublin, had written to RTÉ asking that the prayer be aired each day to mark the end of fasting.

The head of religious programming at RTÉ, Roger Childs, said that the station was unable to accede to the request because programming schedules were fixed to definite timing, whereas the end of Ramadan varies.

Ramadan began on Monday, marking the start of the ninth month of the Islamic year. In Ireland, it also coincides with the longest days of this year.

Mr Childs said that he had responded to Dr Selim, explaining the position: “Because the prayer moves daily by approximately a minute, it doesn’t, by and large, coincide with any of the junctions in our broadcasting schedule,” he said.

Dr Selim had responded to Mr Childs without complaint, saying that he understood the decision, made on the grounds of the impracticality of interrupting scheduled programmes.

Instead, RTÉ, “for the second year running” is marking Ramadan with “short, high-profile Ramadan diaries from a number of leading Muslims living in Ireland, among them Dr Taufiq al-Sattar, whose wife and three children died in the Leicester arson attack in December 2013.

Dr Selim said of RTÉ’s decision: “In Muslim countries, the commencement of the period of fasting, and its end, is marked with a prayer call chanted through loud-speakers placed on the top of the minarets. It is also aired through radio and TV channels.”

In the Irish Republic, the broadcasting of Muslim prayers in this manner is not a practice; RTÉ broadcasts the Roman Catholic Angelus bell on radio and television each weekday at noon and at 6.00 p.m., a practice objected to by a small number of atheists.

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