Muslim radio station sacked me for being Christian, claims Kirk minister

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A CHRISTIAN preacher who has accused a radio station aimed at the Asian community of religious discrimination is to have his case referred to the European Court of Justice.

Mahboob Masih, 37, a Church of Scotland minister who presented a show for Awaz FM on a voluntary basis, has complained to an employment tribunal that he lost his job for reasons related to religion or belief.

The station denied discrimination and argued the tribunal has no powers to hear the case as Mr Masih is not an employee.

The case will be referred for a preliminary ruling to decide if volunteers are protected by anti-discrimination legislation.

The Rev Masih, a minister in East Kilbride, had worked at the radio station for six years when his services were terminated following a "lively" debate on air about religion and the views of a prominent Muslim speaker.

Mr Masih told a preliminary hearing before the Glasgow tribunal that he presented his show as normal on a Saturday morning last July with fellow presenter Afzal Umeed and an on-air guest. He was later told "certain people were unhappy in the Muslim community".

He said the two presenters attended a meeting with bosses of the radio station, which receives public funds and is targeted at the Asian community.

"We were told we tried to create friction in the community, which we vehemently denied. I personally did not make any comment on which the whole storm was created. After listening to the show a few times, it was demanded that we apologise. We said we would do it to avoid further conflict with management."

Mr Masih said he believed that if they had not apologised, they would have been barred from presenting the programme again.

After apologising live on air, Mr Masih said he was asked to go to the local mosque and offer an apology again.

"I said I would not be willing to go to the mosque because this is inappropriate.''

Mr Masih, who was previously minister at Queens Park Baptist Church in Glasgow, said he later wrote a letter to the radio station stating he had done nothing wrong, nothing insulting was said, there was no intemperate language and he felt that the request to apologise at the mosque was intimidatory.

Javed Ullah, a director of the community radio station, which has an estimated 55,000 listeners, 60 per cent of whom are Muslim, denied he told Mr Masih that the Prophet Mohammed was insulted in a discussion on his radio show.

The tribunal heard Mr Masih apologised during his show, but Mr Ullah said it was not done at the stated time.

Employment judge Raymond Williamson ruled that the case should be referred to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on whether Mr Masih's status as a volunteer was protected by anti-discrimination legislation.

Mr Williamson said: "I ask myself the question, 'can it be right that the respondent, a creature of statute, partly funded out of public funds and set up with the aim of promoting social cohesion, should be able to discriminate on religious grounds against the volunteer staff it is obliged to engage as a condition of its licence?'"