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Islam Channel slams UK MP for 'offensive' linkage to Paris and Vienna attacks

UK-based channel denounces attempts to link it with acts of terrorism, calling them 'not only completely unfounded but also grossly offensive'
Islam Channel was fined £20,000 by Ofcom earlier this week for failing to comply with broadcasting rules
Islam Channel was fined £20,000 by Ofcom earlier this week for failing to comply with broadcasting rules (MEE)

The UK-based Islam Channel lashed out at Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani, accusing her of fabricating a link between the faith-based network and recent terror attacks in Paris and Vienna.

Ghani addressed Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons on Wednesday, referring to the attacks and the UK's counter-extremism Prevent programme.

"With the UK terror threat level now at severe following the horrific attacks in Paris and Vienna by cowardly Islamic State terrorists, the whole House joins the prime minister in heartfelt solidarity with our French and Austrian allies," she said.

"Does he agree that here in the UK we must redouble our support for anti-extremism programmes such as Prevent, and does he share my concerns about UK-based TV channels such as the Islam Channel, which just this week was fined by [media regulator] Ofcom for giving airtime to extremist preachers who justify antisemitism, wife-beating and female genital mutilation?"

Islam Channel said in a statement on Thursday that it was "horrified" by her "grossly offensive" comments.

"In your statement you attempted to draw a link between Islam Channel and recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Vienna," the channel wrote.

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"To link Islam Channel to acts of terrorism is not only completely unfounded but also grossly offensive.

"We believe that it is reckless for an MP to make such misleading and untrue statements, thereby risking community division, especially at a time when tensions are running high following recent terrorist attacks."

On Wednesday, Ofcom imposed a £20,000 ($26,140) fine on the network after charging it with failing to comply with broadcasting rules.

The fine was in reference to a programme aired on 11 November 2018, which the government agency said included "abuse or derogatory treatment of Jewish people".

In their letter to Ghani, Islam Channel noted the matter had been all but settled with Ofcom, and the broadcast of the programme, created by a third-party producer, had been "due to a mistake made by a junior member of staff".

After apologising, Ofcom said it welcomed the apology and acknowledged the violation was not intentional.

Earlier this week, the UK upgraded its terror threat level to "severe", the second-highest rank, following Monday's attack in the Austrian capital, Vienna, and a series of attacks in France.

World leaders have condemned the attacks, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying: "Our enemies need to know who they are dealing with. We won't give in to anything."