Christians demand end to Asian radio backing

A CHRISTIAN pressure group is calling on the Scottish Government to withdraw funding for an Asian radio station following claims it axed a Kirk minister's show because he was offensive to Muslims.

Christian Action, Research and Education (Care) in Scotland has written to SNP Ministers to complain about Awaz FM, a Glasgow-based station which last year cut the long-running show of Pakistani-born minister Rev Mahboob Masih.

His removal came after he had been deemed to have offended Muslim listeners when his programme questioned the knowledge of a well-known Islamic scholar.

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Station chiefs at Awaz FM insist that Masih was not fired for the comments, saying his show was cancelled because the relationship between the two parties had simply broken down. His show has now been replaced by another Christian programme.

But Care, which is backing Masih's case, has now written a letter of complaint to Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing and called for the Government to suspend its support for Awaz FM.

Last year, the Government agreed to give it 190,000 during the next three years.

Masih is also to take Awaz FM to an employment tribunal, claiming that he believes a matter of principle is at stake over freedom of speech.

The dispute arose in July when Masih's programme debated the views of prominent Muslim speaker Zakir Naik.

Naik had declared that all prophets, including Jesus and Muhammad, could be considered to have made the claim to be "the way, the truth and the life".

On-air, a guest on the programme claimed that this showed Naik must have a superficial knowledge of the Bible and the Koran.

It is understood that several complaints were made following the programme. Masih was asked by Awaz FM chiefs to go back on air to make an apology.

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Masih agreed and read out a prepared statement but then went on to say that free speech should be defended. His show was cancelled.

Awaz FM bosses say the decision to end his show had nothing to do with religion but was due to a breakdown in relations between him and station chiefs.

Masih said: "This is a fight of principle. I don't have any grievance against any one person. I didn't even make any comment on my show and yet it has led to this."

But Ali Malik, a director at Awaz FM, said: "We are saddened Mr Mahboob has turned this into a religious issue when it clearly isn't.

"Awaz FM is for all of the community and the Christian show is still on air."

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