Gruesome Fare on TV
Maha Sami Aboulola
JEDDAH: AMONG thousands of images broadcast via satellite channels in the Middle East, one particular image recently stood out. An American soldier is standing at one of the many checkpoints in Iraq. A shot rings out and the young man collapses and dies.
This image appeared on the Al-Zawra satellite channel, a pirate channel that airs videos of attacks against American troops in Iraq accompanied by nationalistic Iraqi songs and calls for resistance against the American occupation.
Egypt on Monday stopped the transmission of Al-Zawraa, an Information Ministry official said. However, the chairman of the board of NileSat, Amin Basyouni, said the Al-Zawraa feed had been cut for technical reasons and not as an act of censorship. But the owner of Al-Zawraa, Mishan al-Jabouri, saw the move as politically motivated and said he would sue Egypt.
It is believed that the channel has a sizable viewership among those in Saudi Arabia who believe that the US has no business in Iraq. Not all Saudis have an affinity for the channels and its often gruesome fare. Some, in fact, find it counterproductive and possibly a threat to the safety of innocent people.
â€œThe situation in the Middle East, with all the terror attacks that are taking place, does not need channels like this to infuse Muslims with hatred against the West. There are good and bad people everywhere,â€ Said Omran Marghalani, 26, a banker.
According to, at least, one academic, Al-Zawra has the capacity to inculcate the young generation of Saudi Arabia with ideas of jihad that are both questionable and dangerous.
â€œAfter the terrorism attacks in Saudi Arabia over the last few years, the government is making a real effort to educate the young generation about the true meaning of Jihad,â€ said Talal Abdulmalik, a Professor at King Abdulaziz University. â€œSuch a channel can fill the youngsters with hatred against any American, even if he has nothing to do with the Iraqi war.â€
The channel even seems to appeal to some women, as well. â€œI spend hours looking at the humble equipment the Iraqis have and the fully equipped American army,â€ said Jameelah Abdulhay, 50, a housewife, â€œwith the help of God, the Iraqis succeed.â€
This Saudi Gazette piece notes the noxious effect certain satellite TV channels—such as the Al-Zawra channel recently shut down by the Egyptian government—are having on Saudis. The article condemns the way in which the channels conflate American policy and American citizens. Interesting piece, for sure.