In two morning stories on Weekend Edition Sunday, National Public Radio demonstrated their sensibilities toward Christianity and Islam. First, as Matthew Balan reported, anchor Rachel Martin interviewed Bible-bungling author Reza Aslan and promoted another Jesus-ain't-God book in the face of millions of Christian taxpayers who subsidize NPR.
It’s no surprise that NPR would be delighted that their colleagues in public broadcasting at Britain’s Channel 4 would air the Muslim call to prayer during Ramadan, and interviewed Ibraham Mogra of the Muslim Council of Britain. In this interview, Martin was throwing softballs about how delighted the Muslims were, and no one at NPR would question whether Islam was a false religion, as they'd just asserted about Christianity:
RACHEL MARTIN: So this is a big decision by this broadcaster to do this. They haven't done this before. Is this a good thing in your opinion? Is this a good move?
IBRAHIM MOGRA: It's a wonderful move. We're all very excited and Muslims are very proud that a significant part of their religious observance is now on a mainstream television channel in our country. I like to think that this is now one of the necessary steps of mainstreaming all our religions. As you know, Islam and Muslims have been portrayed in a very negative way around the world but also here recently in our own country. And for a change, there's something very spiritual, very positive about Islam which viewers can enjoy and get to know.
RACHEL MARTIN: Channel 4 called this a deliberate act of provocation meant to spark debate. What is the message there, because after all, we should say that the Muslim population in Great Britain is only about 5 percent?
IBRAHIM MOGRA: I regret the decision to market it, if I can use that word, using that sensational headline. It should be about saying to the nation that we have a small but substantial presence of Muslims in our country and this is a very special month for them and we would like the nation to hear it and to celebrate that.
RACHEL MARTIN: British viewers heard the call to prayer five times on the first day of Ramadan this past week. And I understand after that it will be broadcast five times a day on Channel 4's website. I wonder what the response has been from non-Muslims to this.
IBRAHIM MOGRA: I think most people have just taken into stride. This is Britain, this is multicultural, multi-faith Britain. We don't seek any preferential treatment, we don't want to be favored in any way whatsoever. We just simply want to be treated as everybody else, as equals in a diverse, multi-faith, multicultural country that we live in.
NPR offered no space for anyone who would be provoked by the provocative decision by the leftists at Channel 4. This decision was also discussed Friday on the afternoon talk show Tell Me More. Host Michel Martin interviewed BBC Asian host Sheetal Parmar, who dismissed "paranoid" people and "far right" activists who have critical feelings about Muslims when they consider events like the Woolwich hacking murder of Lee Rigby.
MICHEL MARTIN: Would you just describe the station for us? I mean, is there a way you could compare it to a station that Americans might know? Is this like the equivalent of a major network like ABC or NBC or CBS? Or is this more of a cable channel like CNN or HBO, or something of that sort?
SHEETAL PARMAR: So Channel 4, Michel, is one of the main mainstream British TV channels. It's on terrestrial TV. When it was formed back in, I think it was 1982, it was very much a channel with a public service remit and it was formed in order to represent the views of minorities in Britain.
Now those minorities could be from different ethnicities, they could be from religious and nonreligious groups. And definitely people who are on the margins of society, if you like. So Channel 4 has a range of programs that represent the views of, and engage in a conversation with the views of people who ordinary mainstream media don't necessarily represent.
MICHEL MARTIN: As I mentioned, you hosted a call-in program about this. This apparently has sparked a very strong reaction on both sides, right? So...
SHEETAL PARMAR: Absolutely.
MICHEL MARTIN: So let's start with what Channel 4 says about this, because you had on your program Ralph Lee, who's the head of documentary programming for Channel 4 - the station which is doing this. What did he say was Channel 4's reasoning behind this decision?
SHEETAL PARMAR: Well, Channel 4's reasoning was very much about creating a provocative debate about Islam in this country. And this is not to say that Channel 4 haven't done this type of thing before. Not this specifically, with the call to prayer, but they do provoke. That's also part of Channel 4's remit. Now --
MICHEL MARTIN: But what you're saying, to provoke to what? I mean, we were reading in the coverage that their argument was that they wanted to provoke debate, but to what point? What kind of debate is it that they want to provoke?
SHEETAL PARMAR: Well, what they want to show is that Islam is a religion of peace. What we've had in this country in the last few months since the attack on the unarmed soldier in London a couple of months ago, what we've had since then is this rising tension, which also happened after the two bombings on the seventh of July back in 2005.
This was an attack on our home soil, in broad daylight, and it raised a lot of fears about lots of people in this country. Fears that aren't necessarily -- how can I put it? They're not necessarily fears that many people of lots of different backgrounds have.
But people are paranoid about certain things, and what we've had since the attack on the soldier is lots of mosques have been attacked as well. You've had the far-right group EDL campaigning and saying this is not the type of Islam we want to see in Britain, and have been actively campaigning on those grounds.
Now there's this undercurrent - there's an undercurrent of tension. We've also had a number of cases recently, in the last two to three years, where we've had gangs of mainly Pakistani men grooming under-aged white girls for sex and running prostitution rings and force-feeding them drugs. High-profile cases, where all the men have been convicted, and certainly the backlash that's happened since then and certainly things that -- and we've talked about this on the BBC Asian Network as well -- is whether these are cultural issues, whether these are religious issues, whether the crime that's happening is down to religion. And certainly nobody can prove that it's down to religion but there is this undercurrent, this tension that it's all because Muslims are a certain way. Now what Channel 4 was saying...
MICHEL MARTIN: So having said that, the argument that Channel 4 was making is what? That they were mainstreaming the Muslim experience, that they're saying that they have an equal stake in the societies...
SHEETAL PARMAR: Yeah.
MICHEL MARTIN: Kind of that type of thing.
SHEETAL PARMAR: Yeah. What they're saying is that most Muslims in Britain are peace-loving. Most Muslims in Britain have faith. You know, have religion at their core and therefore what they want to show other people is, when your Muslim coworker or your Muslim neighbor is fasting in the next few weeks, this is what they're going to be getting up to. You know, it's as simple as that, really.
Reminder: This is the same NPR that gladly took a lunch meeting with fake radical Muslims and indulged their fake-radical assertions, equating "Islamophobia" with xenophobia.