Following are excerpts from a TV debate on Egyptian religious TV channels, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on November 16, 2010:
Moderator: You have heard about the controversy that has been going on for several weeks. Many religious TV channels have been shut down. There seems to be a policy to restrain and to clip the claws of these channels. Most of the voters [in our survey] are not in favor of restricting these channels. What do you think about this?
Bahraini intellectual Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: I am not against all religious TV channels, of course. I support the enlightened and tolerant Islam, but I am against those channels that I call "blow-yourself-up-and-go-to-Paradise channels," "blow-yourself-up-and-have-lunch-tomorrow-with-the-Prophet channels." This notion is the exact opposite of what the Prophet Muhammad conveyed.
In my religion, some of these religious channels will give the Islamic nation a heart attack, and will lead it to a cultural coma, a stupor. We must call upon the [decision makers] either to guide these channels or to shut them down. We call upon them to guide these channels, so that they will open up civilization to a progressive, enlightened Islam.
Therefore, we say that all extremist TV channels, whether Shiite, Sunni, or Christian... Any channel that preaches extremism, that calls to rip society to shreds, to abolish the countries, and to abolish civilized interaction between societies must be guided, or else shut down.
What have we gained from such channels? These channels rummage through the garbage bin of history, looking for...
Moderator: Through the garbage bin of history?
Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: That's right.
Moderator: Those are harsh words.
Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: They look for sectarian mines, and blow them up in the face of the Sunnis, the Shiites, the Christians, and so on. In my view, these [TV channels] are spreading the drugs of religion. They do not raise the level of awareness, and do not lay foundations for a life based on happiness, tolerance, and progress.
[These TV channels] have frozen the minds of young people in the narrow freezers of the political parties, and say: "If you blow yourself up in a cafe, you will meet the Prophet Muhammad tomorrow." "Blow up your country, abolish your country" – in the name of the religious state, under the slogan "Islam is the solution." Since when has Islam been supposed to lead to a holocaust?
From this prospective, I believe that we must stand up against all these channels, which try to turn all the countries into sectarian camps. They drug the masses and televise violence. This leads to young people blowing themselves up all over the place. All they do is think about how to die. It is the culture of death, of exclusion, of anesthesia.
Nader A-Tamim, former Mufti of the Palestinian Liberation Army: In Egypt, TV channels promoting prostitution and immorality get a license. They promote these channels, but strangely, they shut down the [religious] channels.
What was the war cry in the 1967 war? "For the sake of springtime, for the sake of those who love life – strike!" In 1973, the war cry was "Allah Akbar," and what was the outcome? In 1967, the Egyptian army was defeated in a matter of hours. Umm Kuthum and Abdel Halim Hafez did not help you in battle. In 1973, when they cried "Allah Akbar," they crossed the Suez Canal within hours, and if not for the treachery, the [Israeli army] would not have penetrated the lines of the Egyptian army.
Let me say to the viewers that what is happening today is an American conspiracy to get rid of the men of the resistance. Those who blow themselves up among the Americans and their collaborators are ideologically motivated. If you get rid of the [TV channels] that motivate them, they will surrender.
Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: The [religious] channels cement sectarianism in society, and incite people against one another. They are constantly arguing... People in Europe and Asia – China and so on – have reached beyond modernism, while we continue to argue what came first – the chicken of the Shia or the egg of the Sunna.