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memri
December 4, 2017 No.
7208

Egyptian Journalist Calls To Stop Incitement To Terror And Extremism On Egyptian Satellite Channels

In her July 24, 2017 column in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, journalist Sahar Al-Ga'ara, who often addresses the issue of extremism in Egypt, harshly condemned Egyptian media channels for providing a platform to extremist elements that incite to violence, especially against women and Copts. She wrote that, motivated by considerations of ratings and advertising revenue, the owners of these channels help spread the extremism that permeates Egyptian society and leads to terror. Calling to involve intellectuals and cultural figures in public discourse in order to counter the influence of extremist preachers, Al-Ga'ara also urged Egypt's Supreme Council for Media to fine and even revoke the license of media outlets that spread extremism. In addition, she called to prosecute extremist preachers in the media on charges of incitement to murder.

 


Sahar Al-Ga'ara (image: cairoportal.com)

The following are excerpts from her column:[1]

"'The media has no god.' These harsh words accurately describe the relationship that some satellite channels have with the star [preachers] and icons of the Salafi stream, who skillfully engage in takfir [accusations of heresy] against the Copts, direct the vilest sort of accusations and insults at [the world of] art, and rebuke Muslims day and night for being bad and for straying [from Islam] by celebrating Sham Al-Naseem[2] or Mother's Day...[3]

"The problem is not just the ludicrous fatwas and the star terrorists [who issue them. The problem is] the channels that use these ugly faces... to make millions in advertising revenue, gain millions of views on YouTube and social media, and [thus] infiltrate society. [This society] fought the religious fascism of the Muslim Brotherhood, [but] now it is succumbing... to a gang of lunatics who have lost their mind along with some Muslim Brotherhood members funded by the Wahhabi state [Saudi Arabia].

"Where is the conscience of the media [moguls] who found these circuses of takfir and then invite some enlightened people and embroil them in a debate with some takfiri jihadist?... Who is responsible for spreading the extremism that paves the way to terrorism? The sheikh who proclaimed it permissible to kill Copts, or perhaps the media [mogul] who brought him [as an expert], thus allowing the stars of terrorism to regain the spotlight?

"I am against any laws that deny [freedom of] thought. But if ideas are hostile and foment hatred towards women and Sufi orders, and prohibit dealing with banks, which undermines the very foundations of the Egyptian economy, and if extremist fatwas lead some Al-Azhar graduate to target and butcher tourists,[4] then keeping these people [from appearing in the media] is a matter of national security. When a modern young man like [the preacher] Sherif Shehata appears [in the media] as a social expert and religious jurisprudent, and declares that 'a man who does not harass a woman wearing revealing clothing or wearing makeup is not a man,'[5] this is a threat to public safety, because it constitutes incitement to abuse the honor of women, if only verbally...

"Some satellite channels have become platforms for destroying the state and for raising the banner of the Salafi war on society, with the aim of restoring the control of the so-called 'men of religion' over the Egyptian public by means of their impact on the simple folks... The war on extremism and terror begins with protecting the Egyptian intellect from religious madness... and by engaging our intellectuals in spreading a culture of enlightenment.

"It is strange that the Supreme Council for Media did not criminalize the fatwas that accuse people of heresy and permit their killing, considering it did pass a decision to impose a fine of 200,000 Egyptian pounds (about $11,000) on any satellite channel and 100,000 Egyptian pounds (about $5,500) on any radio channel that airs offensive language.

"We are facing an organized terrorist gang that spreads its agenda and shows itself on the various media channels, which accept it either out of ignorance or out of greed for exposure and for advertising [profits]. Keep these sick-hearted and ugly-faced people from appearing in the media, and prosecute them for incitement to murder and for threatening public safety and the wellbeing of society. Prosecute them in order to prevent a civil war in the country."

 


[1] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), July 24, 2017.

[2] An Egyptian traditional holiday celebrated on the Monday following Coptic Easter.

[3] Egyptian Salafi preacher Yasser Burhami, for example, issued a fatwa forbidding to celebrate Mother's Day. See Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), March 19, 2017.

[4] The reference is apparently to an incident this July in which a young Egyptian stabbed two German women in a beach resort in Hurghada. See albawabhnews.com, July 15, 2017.

[5] See Al-Watan (Egypt), March 13, 2013.