Leeds: Anti-gay radio sermon was likely to incite crime, regulator rules

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Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has ruled that a sermon on a local radio station in Leeds was ‘likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime’ against the gay community.

Rubina Nasir, known as “Sister Ruby”, had delivered two sermons in Urdu on Radio Asian Fever last year.

The regulator investigated complaints that the programme was breached the Broadcasting Code’s ban on material which “condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour” and material which is “likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder”.

A sermon which dealt with homosexuality began with with a Qur’anic verse, Sura Al-Nisa, verse 16, which Nasir said was highly critical of homosexuality

In a sixteen-page ruling, Ofcom recorded the translations of a number of statements Nasir had made on the air in her subsequent discussion of gay people.

Ofcom noted that Nasir had said: “What should be done if they do it [practise homosexuality]? If there are two such persons among you, that do this evil, the shameful act, what do you have to do? Torture them; punish them; beat them and give them mental torture.”

She had also said: “Allah states, ‘If they do such a deed [i.e. homosexuality], punish them, both physically and mentally.’ Mental punishment means rebuke them, beat them, humiliate them, admonish and curse them, and beat them up. This command was sent in the beginning because capital punishment had not yet been sent down.”

The regulator believed they had the potential to incite violence or criminal hatred against gay people.

It noted several more comments made by Nasir on the programme:

“… this one evil [homosexuality] is the root cause of many other evils.”

“In America, the 1990-92 Homosexual Workshop Report states that an average homosexual has partners numbering between 20 and 106, and they make new partners every year. In other words, one such man commits this bad act with at least 20 and with a maximum of 106 men.”

“50% of those who commit suicide are victims of homosexuality. Murderers too suffer from the same disease. In USA 50% cases of AIDS are homosexuals. Among these people – those who do this bad deed and act against nature – peace and happiness cannot be found. Among women who are victims of homicide, 21% are victims of homosexuality too.”

“The act specific to Prophet Lot’s nation [homosexuality] is acceptable neither to God nor to human nature. The human body too does not accept this act. It is such a bad deed as no one can accept.”

“[Homosexuality] is such a bad deed that made Allah so very furious – they were doing such a heinous sin that Allah sent such a severe punishment upon them.”

“The things [i.e. homosexuality] you are listening to in today’s programme, it is hard to speak about them – they are shameful.”

“I would advise you to very closely scrutinize and check, before you arrange the marriages of your children, if the boys and girls in question are suffering from this disease [homosexuality]. They should be cured.”

“These [i.e. homosexual acts] are such major sins as have wounded the earth.”

The radio station admitted to Ofcom it believes the programme was in breach of the rule against glamorising violence, but said it did not believe there was an incitement to commit crime.

Radio Asian Fever said it was “very embarrassed and can only sincerely apologize for the offence caused to all the communities and guarantee that these types of mistakes will not be repeated”.

It added that the sermons went “against all that [Radio Asian Fever] stands for, we do not encourage or allow such programmes; these go against our ethos and actually divide communities”.

The station added that the presenter “sincerely apologized for the offence that she caused and explained that she had taken information from various religious books and didn’t realize that this was not allowed on the airwaves”.

Radio Asian Fever said the presenter had stated “nothing could have been further from her mind than the desire to offend any member of the general public…[and that] she believes in equality and that everyone is of equal value”.

But Ofcom ruled the content “could be objectively and reasonably regarded as calls to action to undertake violent and other forms of potentially criminal behaviour against the homosexual community.

“In our view, the presenter clearly set out that it was appropriate for people listening to the programmes to: “Torture …; punish…; beat … and give … mental torture” to homosexual people. We considered that the use of the imperative clearly indicated to listeners that they should act in this way.”

Ofcom said it would impose a statutory sanction, often a financial penalty, on the station in due course.