The programme will see ten British Muslims with contrasting world views, including 35-year-old Haqq, put in a house and filmed. A leaked summary of the show made by the company behind The Great British Bake Off warns of ‘charged exchanges’ between them.
Security experts attacked the BBC’s decision to provide Haqq with a platform given his association with Choudary who was jailed in September for drumming up support for IS. One counter-extremism expert accused the corporation and the programme makers of a ‘callous and irresponsible’ move by having Haqq as a housemate.
The BBC says it was necessary to have a cross section of opinions in the house. The show aims to highlight the range of views held by British Muslims on everything from sleeping arrangements to cooking.
Haqq won the British and Commonwealth light middleweight championships in 2009, and fought under the alias Sugar Ray Clay Jones Jr. He converted to Islam aged 24 but it was not until around 2010 that he began attending marches protesting against the war in Afghanistan.
He later gave up his sport to ‘take on the fight for Muslims’. He has been pictured with Choudary several times and has posted provocative videos online, including one appearing to justify the IS beheading of US journalist James Foley and referring to the ‘United Snakes Of America’. Last year he was cleared of plotting to travel to Syria to fight with IS.
He was also found not guilty at the Old Bailey of disseminating terrorist publications and supporting a proscribed group.