C4 cleared over Muslim gay-hate documentary

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The broadcasting watchdog has cleared Channel 4 over a documentary broadcast in January exposing homophobic preaching in UK mosques.

The Dispatches programme portrayed a Birmingham mosque as a haven for extreme views.

Today Ofcom ruled that Undercover Mosque had not misled viewers or offended Muslims.

Undercover footage showed preacher Abu Usamah at Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham calling for gay people to be executed.

“If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech, isn’t it?” he told followers.

A scene in the advertising for the documentary also showed a preacher calling for people to “take that homosexual and throw him off a mountain.”

A complaint made by the West Midlands Police that the show was misrepresenting sections of the Muslim community in the area was not upheld by Ofcom.

Channel 4 had said that the WMP had a “fundamental misunderstanding” in the way in which programmes are made.

They claimed that the show did not inaccurately portray any of the speakers and that the show contained matters of “important public interest.”

Channel 4 News at Noon reported that Hard Cash, the production company that made the documentary, are considering legal action against West Midlands Police.

In August the Crown Prosecution Service accused Channel 4 of distorting what the preachers were saying.

A CPS lawyer who examined 56 hours of uncut footage said the production team had cut together excepts from different speeches and thereby distorted what the preachers were saying.

Mr Usamah said that his comments about gay people had been taken out of context and that he was explaining the views of others but did not agree with their stance.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said:

“Ofcom’s investigation found thatDispatches had uncovered matters of clear public interest and had handled the material responsibility finding no evidence that Channel 4 had misled its audience.

“In keeping with its remit as a public service broadcaster, it is essential that Channel 4 continues to produce challenging programmes about controversial issues which are responsibly handled.

“In this case the Dispatches team did not shy away from a difficult subject and upheld British broadcasting’s strong tradition of investigative journalism.”