Page last updated at 18:50 GMT, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 19:50 UK

UAE radio fires 'voice of God' DJ

Muslims praying and Dubai skyline
Dubai may be a liberal Gulf state, but John crossed a religious red line

A radio host has been sacked in Dubai after he angered listeners by impersonating God in a comedy skit about a phone call with the Almighty.

Virgin Radio host Revin John was satirising a story from the US in which God was subject to legal proceedings.

The spoof prompted complaints from listeners of "diverse faiths and nationalities", the station said.

Any portrayal of God or the Prophet Muhammad, is strictly forbidden in the Islamic faith, including on the radio.

The former morning show host was allowed back on air to apologise for the offence caused, before he left the station.

In June, John told the Gulf News before arriving Virgin Radio Dubai that he had studied the Middle Eastern market thoroughly.

"The adage 'know your audience' was my starting point," he had said.

'Highly offensive'

The Dubai branch of Sir Richard Branson's radio brand was launched earlier in 2008 and is run by the Arabian Radio Network.

Arabian Radio Network chief operating officer, Steve Smith, told Associated Press news agency: "He intended to be funny, not to offend anybody.

"However, what he did was highly offensive to the Muslim and Christian community in the United Arab Emirates."

Mahmoud al-Rasheed, general manager of Arab Radio Network, told Arabian it was a company "that respects the cultures and traditions of all religions".

Mr Rasheed said this was a "mistake by one of our employees", adding: "In line with our commitment to respect our listenership, we saw fit to let go of the presenter."

In the US case, Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers sought a permanent injunction against God to prevent "death, destruction and terrorisation".

A judge threw out the case, ruling that because the defendant had no address, legal papers could not be served.

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