Mohamed Ali Harrath
Mohamed Ali Harrath, CEO of Islam Channel, is a former Tunisian political prisoner who was adopted by Amnesty as a prisoner of conscience. He was sentenced in absentia by the recently deposed regime to over 100 years in prison.
Born in Sidi Bouzid (where the recent Tunisian revolution began) in 1963, he was traditionally educated in a boarding school modelled on the French education system. His family moved toTunisimmediately after independence.
Mohamed Ali began memorizing the Qu’ran in Tunisian mosques and frequenting the circles of prominent Islamic scholars. His initial arrest in 1981 at the age of 18 was the first time someone from a religious background had been arrested in the Tunisian state.
Following another arrest where he was sentenced and jailed for 10 months, he left in 1985 and studied inTehranduring 1985 and 1986. He returned toTunisiawhere he was arrested and released.
At this time he finished his studies in textile engineering, having started his career as a primary school teacher.
In 1986 he was a co-founder of the Tunisian Islamic Front.
In 1987 he was arrested as an activist (under Bourguiba); Ben Ali, the recently deposed dictator, took over in November of that year, but Mohamed was not released until late 1988.
In 1989 he was again arrested and held for a month. At this time, Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience.
In 1990 he leftTunisiafor good, travelling throughout many countries, but eventually living inLondon, where he completed two degrees atWestminsterUniversity: one in English and Arabic and another in Politics. He also undertook an MA at SOAS in Applied Linguistics and Bilingual Translation.
In 2004 he founded the Islam Channel which broadcasts to over 130 countries and is, according to Home Office statistics, the most watched channels by Muslims in theUK.
In 2005, the first ever Global Peace & Unity Event was held attracting over 30,000 Muslims. This has grown each year that it has been held (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010).
In 2006 he organised the first conference on Islamophobia inDenmark.
In 2008 he was one of the founding trustees of ENGAGE, set up to encourage civic and political participation by Muslims in British society.
He is married with five children.