Iranian TV channel Al-Alam closed down in Egypt

Al-Alam closed down in E

November 5, 2009 15:07
2 minute read.
al alam 248.88

al alam 248.88. (photo credit: )

Egyptian and Saudi satellite broadcasters stopped broadcasting Iran's Arabic-language television channel, Al-Alam - "The World" - this week. A report on Al-Alam's Web site accused the broadcasters of ceasing the transmission for "political reasons," while MENA, Egypt's state news agency, attributed the move to an unspecified contractual breach. According to Press TV, Iran's international English-language news service, Arabsat has accused Al-Alam of breaching its commitments by criticizing some figures in the Arab world. Al-Alam has called on Arabsat to provide the times and dates of programs it found offensive. Zvi Mazel, a former ambassador to Egypt, says that the move comes as no surprise. "They [the Egyptians and Saudis] are probably fed up with the Iranian propaganda and have decided to close it," he told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "There was a meeting in Saudi Arabia a few days ago between the Saudi and Egyptian information ministers, and they probably decided together [to stop broadcasting Al-Alam]." Al-Alam's Web site says that the channel's mission is "to disseminate news in an impartial manner by keeping up a moderate line" and claims that Al-Alam News "tries to avoid stirring religious and ethnic strife." Mazel, however, says that Al-Alam broadcasts "Iranian propaganda - that Egypt is betraying Arabs in general, that they work with Israel, all that kind of stuff." He says that the impetus for the move may have been a thinly-veiled threat made by Ahmadinejad to Saudi Arabia last week, saying that his country would take "appropriate decisions" if Iranian pilgrims were harmed during the upcoming Hajj. "Relations between Egypt and Iran are bad, and relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are very bad and will become worse," he said. Dr. Moti Keidar, an Arabic-language specialist at Bar-Ilan University, said that the move marks an escalation in the conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Islam, and was a necessary step for Egypt and Saudi Arabia to take. "Al-Alam broadcasts incitement against the Arab regimes, the Sunni ones," he told the Post Thursday. "They are promoting Hizbullah and Hamas, and promoting jihad against Arab regimes." Keidar said that by cutting off Al-Alam, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are fighting against "media jihad." "They understand that the media is a device of jihad and they do not want to let the Iranians use it against them," he explained. "This is how nations who want to survive act - they kick out every device of jihad and they do not let jihad use their home facilities." In that vein, Keidar points to lessons that Israel could learn from the move. "This is what Israel has not yet realized - that some Arab channels like Al Jazeera, which broadcast from within Israel, are no more than a device of jihad against Israel. Egypt and Saudi Arabia realized [the threat from Al-Alam], and they stopped jihad from within. Only Israel lets this continue," said Keidar. "The media jihad cannot be allowed to operate in a country that wants to survive," Keidar added.

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