MEMRI's TV Monitor Project (www.memritv.org), which has now spent a year tracking Arab and Iranian satellite TV, has shown that as these channels are beamed into the West - and America in particular - they have the potential to incite viewers to jihad. France has recognized this danger and within the last year banned two channels: Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV and Iran's Sahar TV. The European Union as a whole is also looking to ban certain channels.
Arabic and Farsi speakers living in the West who depend on Middle East satellite TV for news are inundated with daily messages of hate. In North America, the following are just some of the many satellite channels available: Al Jazeera, Al Majd, Iqraa, ART, LBC, Nile, Future, MBC, NBN, Ajaman, Al Alam (Iran), Al Manar, and Orbit. State TV channels are available from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, Dubai, Tunisia, and Libya.
Middle East TV available by satellite also broadcasts leading Islamist imams espousing hatred. A spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement and head of the European Council for Fatwa, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, for example, has a weekly show on Al Jazeera. (To view some of his programs visit here.)
Claiming that 23,000 people in America converted to Islam in the month following September 11, 2001, Egyptian Sheikh Mahmoud al-Masari spoke on Al-Majd TV on March 2, stating "how beautiful" it was to see the World Trade Center buildings fall. The studio audience laughed out loud when he described how "wretched" Americans were punished that day.
Discussions by Muslims in the West calling for jihad are also frequently aired. The imam of London's Central Mosque, Sheikh Said Radhwan, called for jihad while speaking on Iran TV in August: "The Arab and Islamic nation must mobilize everything. Islamic law teaches us that when the people of a country cannot defend themselves - jihad is a personal duty that applies to all Muslims. We must wage jihad with our property and our souls."
Another cleric in London, Muhammad al-Musawi, spoke to the same channel in an October interview: "What I'm saying is that a psychological war is being waged by hostile circles. They are trying to present themselves as victorious... You should analyze their reality: They are afraid and not vice versa. The Muslims should know that we are the stronger ones. We are stronger than them in a number of ways ... We are stronger psychologically because we trust in the true religion ... We have a mental strength that these enemies lack. They are internally defeated."
Sermons and interviews calling for killing Christians, Jews, and American soldiers, as well as confrontations with the West by Muslim religious figures, are aired by many of the satellite channels. Egypt's Sheikh Muhammad al-Mussayer of Al-Azhar spoke on Iqraa TV last July, saying that Islam should not merely be defended but that "Muslims today should confront."
Saudi Sheikh 'Aed al-Qarni also stated on Iqraa TV in December: "I pray to Allah ... that He will destroy the Jews and their helpers from among the Christians and the communists, and that He will turn them into the Muslims' spoils. I praise the jihad, the sacrifice, and the resistance against the occupiers in Iraq. We curse them all of them every night and pray that Allah will annihilate them, tear them apart, and grant us victory over them. The jihad in Fallujah is a source of pride ... Who can say even one word against this true jihad against these colonialist occupiers?"
The influence of Middle East TV satellite channels has been demonstrated repeatedly by the Iraqi confession show that appears on al-Iraqiya. Captured terrorists have stated time and again that they were influenced by the "sermons of Qaradhawi," "fatwas by leading Saudi religious authorities," and "watching Al Jazeera." (To view confessions visit here.)
Policy-makers, especially those involved in fighting the war on terror, should recognize that within American borders, satellite television beamed live from the Middle East includes shows that call for the killing of Americans. This is one aspect of the war on terror that should be addressed and can easily be taken care of by blocking such broadcasts.
Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.