CLC supports radio presenter sacked for defending Christianity

The Christian Legal Centre has taken up the case of a Christian radio presenter in Glasgow who was sacked for defending Christianity on air.

The Rev Mahboob Masih, a church minister from East Kilbride, had hosted a regular Saturday morning show on Asian community radio station Awaz FM for six years before his dismissal.

The row with Awaz FM's management centres on a broadcast last July during which listeners put forwrd questions on a recent talk by prominent Muslim speaker and critic of Christianity, Zakir Naik on Islamic channel Peace TV. Rev Masih and co-presenter Afzal Umeed sought to allow a response from the Christian perspective, the Christian Legal Centre said.

Naik had claimed that Jesus Christ was not the only prophet to embody “the way, the truth and the life”. A guest on Rev Masih’s programme, Christian apologist Asif Mall, responded to Naik’s claim by saying it showed a lack of knowledge of the Bible and the Koran.

The radio station management later expressed concerns that Rev Masih had not been balanced enough during the discussion and that Muslim listeners may have been offended.

Rev Masih said the management ordered him to issue an apology to listeners as well offer an apology in person to Muslim worshippers at Glasgow’s Central Mosque who may have been offended by remarks he or Mr Mall may have made during the progamme.

Rev Masih said he reluctantly agreed to read out an apology on air but added his own comment at the end, "We live in a free country and everybody has the right to express his/her opinion." He refused, however, to go to Central Mosque to apologise in person, saying that a presenter on a community radio station should not be answerable to the mosque.

Awaz FM temporarily suspended Rev Masih and co-presenter Umeed for breaching the station's code of conduct. Rev Masih wrote to the station's management criticising its treatment of him and asking for an apology and immediate reinstatement to the radio show, after which he and his co-presenter were dismissed.

While Rev Masih said the religious debate did not contravene British law or the Ofcom Code, the station's director, Javaid Ullah, said Masih and Umeed had "failed to remain neutral and as such allowed the guest to make comments which led in [to] offending various members of the community".

Awaz FM’s website claims that it “will be the voice of Glasgow's ethnic communities and their respective faiths”. Rev Masih has lodged a complaint against the station with Ofcom, claiming that Awaz FM is in breach of the terms of its licence.

Awaz FM contests Rev Masih’s complaints and has so far failed to respond to his questions about the dispute. The case will be heard at the Glasgow Employment Tribunal, where Rev Masih will be represented by religious liberties barrister Paul Diamond.