The Neo ‘Iron Curtain’ and the loud marching steps of televangelistas.
The latest cultural trend is the sensational rise of televangelist channels in U.K, using tactics which can only be described as ‘emotional and religious blackmail’ and premium rate phone charges to raise funds from devotees, most of these are Nigerian Pentecostal ‘Witchdoctor’ (faith healer potions and exorcisms) TV channels operating from London. Generally the term ‘televangelist’ refers to American evangelical splinter churches propagating to solicit donations for converting poor Africans. This concoction of ideologies is being beamed back to Africa and Asia through satellite.
South Asian diaspora in U.K and Europe is estimated to be 12 million while the Muslims (including Arabs, Turks and Africans in France, Germany, Greece and Spain) are estimated to be another 10 million and growing. The Lingua-franca of south Asian community (Indian, Pakistani, Tamil, Bengali or Afghan) is Urdu or Hindi. The south Asians in Britain and Europe have a long history of Intra community integration and assimilation and since 1960s (the first significant Asian emigration to U.K), the common phrase used for fellow south Asians is ‘Apna Log’ or our own people.
In 1980s Afghan jihad, Rushdie affair and Bosnian war helped establish a hardcore of Islamic fundamentalists in London, especially in the Finsbury Park mosque, which was termed by security analysts as ‘Londonistan’. The term ‘Asian British’ is being replaced by, Is the ‘British Indian’ community progressive and the ‘British Muslims’ retrogressive?
Divisions started appearing between the educated and professional middle class Gujarati, Sindhi Hindus and Punjabi Sikhs and a working class (with limited education achievement) Taxi drivers, Pizza boys, mill workers of Muslim Bangladeshi, Kashmiri and Pakistani community.
Then came 9/11 and the British society heard the term ‘Islam-phobia’, a reincarnation of 1970s Nazi National Front’s racism which targeted Indian and ‘Pakis’ alike, Paki was (still is) a term of racial abuse in U.K. Iraq fiasco resulted in the 7/7 terrorist attacks, conducted by the first cell of ‘British-born’ Islamic terrorists inspired by Al Qaeda.
United Kingdom, where nearly 7% of the total population is of Pakistani and Indian origin, has seen a mushrooming of South -Asian channels catering to different niche segments of the Diaspora, made possible by Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB satellite platform providing digital slots for multitude of television, radio and information channels cheaply. These channels bind the Asian European viewers to the audiences in United Kingdom.
Asian media and music scene started with underground Punk, Hip-Hop, Bhangra and Reggae musicians (with their liberal lifestyles) like Apache Indian, DCS, Bally Sagoo and Propa- Gandhi.1990s saw the start-ups like Sunrise Radio and TV Asia (Europe) from London with Terrestrial and satellite reach across western Europe. Pakistani channel was a result of the split between Pakistani TV Asia and Zee TV Europe. Dubai based ARY digital, Indian based Zee TV and Pakistan’s GEO TV are ecumenical and multicultural TV channels, trying to cater to the needs of all the ethnic and religious niche markets within the greater Asian diaspora in Europe.
The second tier of this free media and television revolution is the mushrooming free-to air satellite channel industry. One significant difference between Pakistan and UK is the absence of any regulatory or governmental censorship in UK.
This free- to- air spectrum ranges from bizarre(e.g. AT ‘global’(as if) ’s bearded chairman with customary Jinnah cap, telling anecdotal stories to unsuspecting callers who are charged premium rate charges for their naive phone conversations) to the world class entertainment from Bollywood films.
A quick glossary of these channels demonstrates that the problem is much bigger. The wider British society will have to face this issue sooner or later, in form of segregation, secretive cults and brain washed religious fanatics. It is obvious that the British security analysts cannot fully decipher the true message of these TV channels due to the language and cultural barriers.
In British context, televangelists also include different shades of Islamist Shia and Sunni groups. In 1994 the Ahmediya community (declared apostate by Muslims) started their Muslim TV Ahmediya from London to counter the persecution and propaganda against their quasi Muslim cult. This business model was quickly adopted by the mainstream Islamists for their TV channels.
In 2004 Muslim Association of Britain (a front for Arab Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistani Jamaat Islami) backed Europe wide ‘The Islam Channel’, in collaboration with the Regents Park Mosque (funded by Saudi Arabia for religious guidance of Europeans) London. One of the most watched shows on Islam channel is the ‘Muslima Dilemma’, which is often hosted by a Mrs. Shabana Pandor, who describes her profession as a ‘Post-natal mental health advisor’ for Muslim clients of National Health Service .Wearing a full Jilbab (full body covering Burqa without the face covering), Mrs Pandora is a proud ‘Grandmother’ at the tender age (circa) of 32 (she must be an expert on teenage pregnancy and child brides). American Islamic ‘Bridges TV’ was, until recently, run by a misogynist who is currently behind bars for “Honour Killing” his wife.
Pakistani Christian channel Glory TV is evidently funded by America evangelical Pentecostals .Noor (light) TV is owned by Sufi Muslim saint based in Pakistani Kashmir and Birmingham England. Now other Barelvi Sunni clerics are also buying airtime on (previously) secular channels to compete with Saudi Puritanical Peace TV. The Hidayat (true path) TV belongs to Pakistani Shia clerics, who faithfully tow the party line coming out of headquarters of Shia clergy in Iran (e.g. the issues of Burqa in France or the Iranian elections).
Peace TV (English), owned by Indian Wahabi hardliner Dr. Zakir Naik, is evidently funded by Saudi Arabian covert NGOs e.g. the documentaries of Harun Yahya (allegedly US$4 billion was provided by Saudi Arabian Oil funds for brainwashing schools(in Asia, Africa and some in Europe) into preaching Islamic brand of Creationism thru ‘Atlas of Life’ audio-visual libraries) and South African zealot Late Ahmed Deedat (who used to challenge Protestant evangelists for conversion to Islam).Ex-evangelical American like Yusuf Estes and Abdulah Green present programs titled ‘The Peace Missile’, ‘Weapons of Mass Conversions’ and ‘Crossfire’, need I say more? Recently Pakistani Islamist ideologue, dissident of Muduadi’s Jamaat Islami and a mentor to the British Islamist caliphate (read Dictatorship of the Pure) youth group Hizb-u-Tahrir, Dr. Israr Ahmed has started Peace TV’s Urdu service from its new base in Pakistan.
Hindu Gujarati and North Indian Yoga gurus/preachers have also started looking for donations and devotees on two competing TV channels. Punjabi Sikhs have at least two channels in Europe (proudly displaying the names of their members who have donated for ‘Holy Cause’).A few years ago mosques in certain parts of north of England, used to publically name, honour (or shame) local families donating to the Friday prayer leader and this great idea of religious advertising was hijacked by the high caste priests of The Sikh Channel.
Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation, claiming to be a secular and multicultural representative of both sides of the Line of Control which divides the Jammu Kashmir ‘nation’ into Indian and Pakistani occupied areas, has been forced to sell-out its operations (due to lack of financial support and advertising) to a new group of Shia clerics, who are opening yet another profitable venture of televangelism. GOD IS BIG BUSINESS AND NOTHING SELLS LIKE RELIGION.
TV game show: Who Wannabe a Fanatic? (Inspired by Hanif Kureishi’s My Son is a Fanatic)