Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

My song of praise to broadcasting Muslim call to prayer

Indignant outburst: Conor Burns
Indignant outburst: Conor Burns

It is aimed at the devout. Its purpose is clear: to call followers to prayer, to convert non-believers, to ring out across the land like an air-raid siren from on high.

The programmes, for transmission on British terrestrial television, will, I fear, inflame community tensions, whip up divisions between religious groups and even spark hate crimes against its devotees.

So let's ban Songs of Praise.

Alas, the BBC is set to continue its weekly indoctrination of impressionable young viewers with this vile, dangerous programme.

Call it a publicity stunt, call it the deliberate provocation of right-thinking atheists, but this supposedly innocent show about Christians flaunting their religion with hymns – some of which contain such incitements to holy war as, "Onward, Christian soldiers ... Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe" – exposes once and for all the sinister agenda of the BBC: to turn all our children Anglican.

This faith, let us not forget, decrees that female disciples must wear 'sensible' shoes and bake endless 'Victoria sponges' for summer festivals called 'fetes'.

They may look like harmless gatherings but are in fact capitalist orgies that cream off profits to pay for the very buildings that help oppress its women.

And if you're gay?

You face stark choices: ostracism, sham marriages, or worst of all, coercion into leadership – condemned to a lifetime in religious attire that doesn't even cinch at the waist let alone follow seasonal trends.

How much longer will we let this religion run roughshod over fundamental British principles of justice and equality? The rot must stop.

In other news, The Sun, the Ukip (it sounds even more ridiculous preceded by the definite article), and Tory MP Conor Burns (who always sounds funny) are in a frothing frenzy over Channel 4's decision to broadcast the adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, every morning during Ramadan, which begins on Tuesday.

Vibrating with indignation at a frequency inaudible to rational adults, a Ukip spokesman said: "It will inflame community tension".

Burns called it "politically-correct tokenism".

They fear, seemingly, that so soon after the Woolwich murder, such chanting could prompt further Islamophobic attacks, entirely unaware that theirs is an Islamophobic attack and that censoring religious worship would gain the respect of Mao.

They seem ignorant too of the entirely obvious truism that the more people know of a culture, the greater our understanding of the complexities, rituals and history of a faith, the more irrational fear is neutralised.

Much as I (as an atheist) adore sacred music and Islamic art and thus await with enthusiasm the sound of adhan, they, the self-appointed mouthpieces of cosy middle England, are in fact nothing of the kind.

Their broadcast, in three-part disharmony, is a hymn for a very un-British hate.

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