People cheer while carrying Hezbollah flags as they celebrate Resistance and Liberation Day in Bint Jbeil.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah and its allies on Thursday strongly condemned the decision by Egyptian satellite company NileSat for stopping its broadcast of the group’s Al-Manar TV station.
Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah said NilesSat’s decision was “reckless” and called on Egypt to reverse it, Hezbollah’s Al-Manar reported.
It is in Egypt’s national interest to keep unity in the face of “Zionist and the takfiri plots,” he said, referring to jihadist groups such as Islamic State which kill Muslims after naming them apostates.
“If Lebanon had protected its media outlets, no satellite companies would have dared to block the broadcast of any TV channel,” asserted Fadlallah.
In a statement posted on Hezbollah’s affiliated Al-Ahed website, the group called the move “a flagrant violation to the freedom of opinion and expression.”
It further considers it as “an attempt to mute the voice of the resistance and right that is embodied in this channel, which carries a clear logo: The Channel of Resistance and Liberation... The Channel of Arabs and Muslims,” the statement said.
The terrorist group also said it would find ways to overcome the removal of its media outlet from the Egyptian company’s broadcasts.
“We also call the Egyptian authorities to move towards canceling these decisions, which the Egyptians know before others that they serve ‘Israeli’ goals and demands.”
Al-Manar’s general manager, Ibrahim Farhat, told AFP, “This is a political decision, not an industry decision. Al-Manar has nothing to do with sectarian strife.”
“This is part of the political problem in the region, that they’re taking it out on the media,” Farhat said.
One option of Al-Manar is to broadcast via a Russian satellite.
The timing of the move comes as Saudi King Salman began his visit to Egypt on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia has lavished aid on Egypt since its military overthrew an Islamist government in 2013, and while ties have been strained over the past year, Cairo has broadly followed Riyadh’s lead on regional politics.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Beirut have been brewing since January. Riyadh is worried Hezbollah has too much power in Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia cut $3 billion in military aid to Lebanon after the Lebanese government failed to condemn an attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran in January.
On Friday, the Saudi-owned television news channel Al-Arabiya shut its offices in Lebanon. On the same day, protesters attacked the Beirut office of Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat in response to a cartoon published by the paper criticizing the Lebanese state.
There have also been reports from Gulf countries, including Kuwait and Bahrain, about Lebanese citizens being expelled because of links to Hezbollah.
Reuters contributed to this report.