Community radio station Link FM Sheffield fined by Ofcom for playing jihadist chant

Link FM, which has around 2,500 listeners, was found guilty of committing two serious breaches of Ofcom’s broadcasting code by playing the chant “Nasheed” twice on its breakfast show in 2020.

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The Pakistan Muslim Center (PMC) licensee had earlier “wholeheartedly apologized”.

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File photo of a radio. Sheffield-based Link FM has been fined for playing a jihadist chant, Ofcom says

In a statement, Ofcom said: “On two occasions in December 2020, Link FM 96.7 broadcast a Nasheed – a piece of devotional vocal music – titled ‘Jundallah’, which means ‘Soldiers of Allah’.

“Our investigation revealed that this Nasheed, which was in Arabic, contained lyrics and imagery that amounted to an indirect call to action to encourage people to join a form of violent Jihad. It was therefore likely to encourage or incite violence or cause disorder. The content also had clear potential for significant offensiveness and we did not consider there was sufficient context to warrant its release.

“In view of the seriousness of these breaches, we have imposed a fine of £2,000, payable to HM Treasury. Link FM 96.7 is also to broadcast a summary of our decision on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.

In his sanction decision documentOfcom said it had decided not to suspend the station’s license, but expressed concern that the chant had been broadcast without the non-Arabic-speaking presenter knowing its meaning.

The Pakistan Muslim Center in Sheffield plays an important role in the community, Ofcom said

He expressed particular concern that the lyrics actively condone, promote and encourage listeners to participate in violent jihad as a form of devout religious expression. Ofcom was also concerned that it was aired twice without challenge or context, which it said heightened the seriousness of the matter.

He added: “Ofcom took into account that the Nasheed was broadcast when the presenter did not understand Arabic and therefore the lyrics. However, we noted that the Nasheed contained no explicit or direct call for specific criminal action. We noted that the content of concern was self-contained and that the purpose of the program was not to call for Jihad.

Pakistan Muslim Center ‘a responsible community organization’

The PMC told Ofcom about its services to the community and said that “as a responsible community organization and community radio station, we have always made sure to be inclusive and careful in our work and delivery” .

He said he has been “involved in numerous terrorism awareness projects, preparedness and worked in partnership with the police and the local prevention team”.

He also explained the “vital role in Sheffield” played by the Link FM service, including promoting diversity and inclusion of “the unemployed, young people, women, people with disabilities, older people and people from communities Muslims”, the provision of training and development opportunities, and its work around Covid-19 messaging and education.

Ofcom previously said the Pakistan Muslim Center had apologized for what it called a “mistake” and an “unfortunate incident”.

In a letter to Ofcom, the presenter apologized and said she felt ‘quite embarrassed’ and had ‘no intention of inciting hatred or negativity in any form’ .

The center asked Ofcom to take into account that PMC is a charity and said it would “endeavour to continue to work with Ofcom” to ensure Link FM remains compliant with the rules and Ofcom regulations.

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