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Muslim chief quits BBC, amid fears of a downgrade to religious broadcasting

West Europe

Muslim chief quits BBC, amid fears of a downgrade to religious broadcasting

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The BBC, the UK state broadcaster, is reported to be ditching its ‘religion broadcasting’, long regarded as a key component of its public service remit, following the resignation of its first Muslim religion chief.

Aaqil Ahmed was appointed head of religious broadcasting at the BBC in 2009 having acted in a similar role at state-subsidised Channel 4. The appointment of a Muslim to the role, when many of his predecessors had been Christian ministers and priests, led to criticisms that the BBC were downgrading Christian coverage at the BBC. In recent days Mr Ahmed is reported to have planned to increase coverage of minority faiths with proposals to broadcast from mosques.

In what is widely seen as a further blow to BBC’s commitment to religious broadcasting, Mr Ahmed’s department is being merged into a department known as ‘Factual Scotland’ based out of Glasgow. The new chief of Factual Scotland is Mark Hedgecoe, who has previously specialized in the arts.

The BBC now plans to hold round table talks to discuss the future of religious broadcasting with religious leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, and leaders of the minority faiths.