Tamara Yesmin Toma

Researcher, Dismislab
Sri Lanka Not Alone: Other Non-Muslim Countries Also Broadcast Azan Five Times on Radio

Sri Lanka Not Alone: Other Non-Muslim Countries Also Broadcast Azan Five Times on Radio

Tamara Yesmin Toma

Researcher, Dismislab

A claim that Sri Lanka is the only non-Muslim country where the Azan is broadcast five times a day on both television and radio has been circulating on social media for over a decade. However, upon verification, the information was found to be misleading. Contrary to the assertion, while a national radio station in Sri Lanka does indeed broadcast the Azan five times a day, no television channel in the country airs it. Additionally, Sri Lanka is not the exclusive non-Muslim nation where the Azan is transmitted five times daily via radio; similar practices exist in other countries.

The claim asserting that “Sri Lanka is the onhttps://archive.ph/qvztely non-Muslim country where the Azan is broadcast five times a day on television and radio” has been circulating on Facebook since 2011, maintaining its presence for a span of 13 years. This year, multiple instances of the claim resurfaced on Facebook (1, 2, 3, 4). Additionally, similar information has been reported by at least a mainstream media outlet.

The claim across the years is as follows:

2011 (1, 2, 3)

2012 (1, 2, 3)

2013 (1, 2, 3)

2014 (1, 2)

2015 (1, 2)

2016 (1, 2)

2017 (1, 2)

2018 (1, 2)

2019 (1, 2)

2020 (1, 2)

2021 (1, 2)

2022 (1, 2)

2023 (1, 2)

2024 (1, 2, 3, 4)

In Sri Lanka azan is solely aired on radio, not on television

During the verification process, two separate reports (1, 2) were uncovered from local media outlets titled “SL only non-Muslim country which broadcasts Azan – AHM Azwer, MP”. These reports highlight a statement made by the then-Member of Parliament Alhaj AHM Azwar during the opening ceremony of the World Muslim Congress Conference at Hotel Ramada in Sri Lanka in 2011. Azwar mentioned that Sri Lanka is the only non-Muslim country permitted to broadcast the call to prayer on national radio daily. However, these local media reports did not indicate that the Azan is aired on Sri Lankan television channels.

Verification reveals that the World Muslim Congress Conference took place at Hotel Ramada on November 13 and 14, 2011. The subsequent day, on November 15, Sri Lanka’s national daily, Daily News, published a report about the event. This report was also disseminated by Ceylon Muslim on December 5, 2011. Additionally, posts regarding the claim began surfacing on the social media platform Facebook in November 2011 (1, 2), indicating that the propagation of this claim commenced after MP Azwar’s speech at the World Muslim Congress Conference.

Shabeer Mohamed, a fact-checker and social media analyst at Hashtag Generation, a Sri Lankan fact-checking organization, told Dismislab that Sri Lanka’s state-owned radio broadcaster Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) operates multiple radio stations. Among these, only a dedicated channel known as SLBC Tamil National Service broadcasts the Azan five times a day. This channel is available on FM 102.1 and FM 102.3 frequencies. Between 8 am to 10:30 am and 8 pm to 9 pm, the channel switches its programming to SLBC Muslim Service twice a day. During these times, special religious programs and discussions are aired. For the remaining duration, the Azan is broadcast five times a day at prayer times, along with other regular program broadcasts. Recording of the Azan broadcast from this channel can also be found on YouTube, although no specific schedule for the broadcasts was identified.

Shabeer further remarked that he is unaware of any national television channel in Sri Lanka broadcasting the Azan. Dismislab conducted a check on the website of Sri Lanka’s national television, the state-run Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), and did not find any information regarding the broadcast of the Azan. Although the three TV channels under SLRC—Rupavahini, NethraTV, and Channel I—acknowledge airing various religious programs, there is no specific mention of the Azan being broadcast.

Sri Lanka is the only non-Muslim country that broadcasts five times Azan on radio?

Sri Lanka is not the only non-Muslim country in the world to broadcast the call to prayer on national radio. Verification shows that Singapore’s Warna 94.2 FM radio channel broadcasts Azan five times daily. Recording of the Azan broadcast on Warna 94.2 FM is available on YouTube.

Warna 94.2 FM is managed by Mediacorp, Singapore’s largest state-owned media company, and the channel broadcasts in Malay. The Azan has been regularly broadcast on Warna 94.2 FM since 1978.

In addition to national radio broadcasts, the Azan is also aired on local Muslim radio stations in various countries around the world. For example, Sydney’s Voyage of Islam 87.6 FM broadcasts the Azan locally and provides an Azan schedule on its website for listeners’ convenience.

Following the Christchurch attacks in 2019, New Zealand’s Prime Minister at the time, Jacinda Ardern, announced that the call to Friday prayers would be broadcast on TV NZ and RNZ, the country’s national broadcasters.

Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, BBC Radio decided to broadcast the Juma Azan on 14 local channels across the United Kingdom every Friday.