Following are excerpts from a TV debate on incitement on Arab TV channels, with Mish'an Jabouri, a Syrian-based Iraqi politician who owns Arrai TV, and US-based Egyptian journalist Magdi Khalil. The debate aired on Al-Jazeera TV on January 19, 2010.
Faysal Al-Qassem, mediator: Oh for the days of George Bush. George Bush destroyed the region, mobilized armies, and killed millions, and so on, and along comes Obama and wants to finish the job and silence us. Isn't it a disgrace that this country, America, which brags about democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech, legislates such stupid laws, as many Arabs claim?
Magdi Khalil: It is clear that you people are confusing freedom of speech and the limits of freedom of speech – not only with regard to US law, but also to the laws all over the world, as well as UN resolutions and UN conventions. There is great confusion in the minds of the people in the Middle East between media and terrorism.
Let us consider some facts in order to determine the basic problem plaguing the entire world, not just the US – a problem caused by the TV channels of terror in the Middle East.
First, there is a surplus of hatred, violence, and terrorism in many Middle Eastern and Islamic countries. Every country in the world has the right to protect itself from this, and to prevent it from reaching its soil.
Faysal Al-Qassem: You are saying that the Arab TV channels, or Arab media, which are targeted by the new American bill, spread hatred, vicious propaganda, and terrorism. Fine – the [Arab media] may be spreading terrorism, but America is practicing real terrorism. It killed over one and a half million Iraqis, drove more than five million Iraqis out of their homes, and turned over two million Iraqi women into widows. It uses drones to killed Afghans daily, as if they were swarms of flies. It kills, its slaughters...
Who is more worthy of punishment – someone who spreads [terrorism] with a word or two, or someone who annihilates people?
Magdi Khalil: My Faysal, it seems that you believe your own stories about 1.5 million Iraqis. You should stop imagining things and do the math. The Iraqis were killed by Iraqis and by Arabs.
An Iraqi professor at the University of Missouri conducted a survey of 127 suicide bombers. 53 of them came from Saudi Arabia, 75 percent are from the Gulf states...
Mish'an Jabouri: If he is talking about the operations that target the US forces in Iraq – I am honored to incite to these operations. I hope to be able to carry out a martyrdom operation, pulverizing the dens of the murderers and criminals who invaded my country.
If he is talking about the terrorism of killing women and children at weddings, and of raping girls and prisoners, in the name of the democracy they brought – we wash our hands of this terrorism. The party responsible for this is...
Faysal Al-Qassem: The collaborators with the occupation?
Mish'an Jabouri: Yes, the collaborators with the US. Not just the collaborators – the occupation and its collaborators. It is the occupation that kills, places people on trial, and executes them in the streets. It is the occupation that kills people in their own homes. They came here from across the ocean.
If they think that defending your country, land, and honor constitutes terrorism – let Mr. Magdi record me, and inform the CIA and the FBI that I am the leading terrorist in the world. To hell with America. To hell with all those agencies. They will never be able to get me. I will fight them, wherever they may be.
If Mr. Magdi watns to rely on institutions like MERI...
Faysal Al-Qassem: It's MEMRI.
Mish'an Jabouri: MEMRI, which testified before the US Congress about these channels, and whose mission is to monitor the Arab media and TV channels... This is an Israeli institution, run by a colonel in the Israeli army...
Faysal Al-Qassem: An ex-Mossad officer.
Mish'an Jabouri: Yes. If we want to be rated by the Israeli Mossad... The Israeli Mossad definitely wants defeatist people, like the state-controlled Arab media in Egypt and other countries...
Faysal Al-Qassem: Okay, just one sentence...
Mish'an Jabouri: We will confront the invasion and the occupation. it is our honor to compete with one another in pulverizing the occupation with our bodies, with our souls...
Faysal Al-Qassem: And with our TV channels.
Mish'an Jabouri: Yes, and we will blow ourselves up at the bases of these criminals and invaders. We will drive them out, and they will retreat with the tail of defeat between their legs. The resistance will send them back to where they came from.
We will continue to glorify whoever pulverizes the US occupation, wherever it may be.
Faysal Al-Qassem: Fine.
Magdi Khalilm: First of all, with regard to MEMRI – it is headed by someone who speaks Arabic. You can have him on your show, and he is capable of responding to all your claims against him.
Secondly, what I know about MEMRI is that they present original footage, and they enjoy credibility in the US. It has offices in Japan, in China, in Britain, in the US, in France, in Iraq since 2003, and in Jerusalem. We judge according to what this institution produces.
It does not invent a thing. it produces translations, and its translations are reliable. It produces clips from Arab TV, and it is reliable. I do not need to defend MEMRI. Its owner can do that.
For another thing, with regard to resistance – there is a huge difference between resistance and terrorism. Resistance is something local. Occupation leads to resistance, and resistance is necessary to fight any occupation. Nobody disputes that, but the issue goes beyond occupation.
The message of these TV channels goes far beyond occupation. These TV channels have a Jihadist message. they are Jihad channels, not channels of liberation.
Faysal Al-Qassem: Take the TV channels of the resistance, like Al-Manar Tv, Arrai TV, Al-Aqsa TV, or Al-Rafidein TV... By God, have you ever seen a report on these channels attacking Sweden, the Ivory Coast, or Burkina Faso?
Mish'an Jabouri: Or glorifying people who blow themselves up in the US?
Magdi Khalil: I have seen lots and lots and lots of reports that attack the entire non-Islamic world. they accuse people of heresy, and call for killing, terrorism, and the shedding of blood.
Hassan Nasrallah tells you, on Al-Manar TV, that the Jews are criminals and that they spread corruption in the land.
Faysal Al-Qassem: Not criminals, but... The Zionists... Hold on a second... What's wrong with this description? They are not merely criminals, but according to one [viewer's] opinion, they outdid Hitler, Nazism, Fascism, and all that... On the contrary, Hassan Nasrallah was very soft on them, according to this.
Magdi Khalil: You deserve to stand trial for the things you said, because you said "Jews," not "occupiers."
Faysal Al-Qassem: I am talking about the Zionists, who destroyed Gaza and Lebanon. What, you are not allowed to call them "criminals"?
Mish'an Jabouri: Yes, we call to fight the US forces, wherever they are.
Faysal Al-Qassem: "wherever they may be"...
Mish'an Jabouri: Yes, wherever they go. On my channel, I teach how to manufacture the bombs that are used against the Hummers of the occupation. I teach people how to pulverize the dens of the occupation. I will teach this to the Yemenis, if the Americans occupy Yemen, and the same goes for any other Arab country. In Iraq, we teach people how to fight this criminal riffraff, represented by this person, who is, unfortunately, an Arab.
These people spread crime, depravity, and prostitution. They believe that the culture of homosexuality, political prostitution, and crime is legitimate, but that defending one's land, honor, and homeland is a crime.
Faysal Al-Qassem: Very well.
Mish'an Jabouri: But we will fight them. If Mr. Magdi comes to Iraq wearing a US military uniform, we will kill him.
Magdi Khalil: You are inciting the brother who is there with you to curse me, but I will not respond to his curses. He is accused of being a terrorist, and I will not stoop to this level. Mr. Faysal, go ahead and incite your guest to curse me. His curses mean nothing to me.
Faysal Al-Qassem: He does not need me to incite him, sir. He has a TV channel, and he incites against the whole world. He doesn't need me to incite him. Don't turn yourself into a laughingstock.
Mish'an Jabouri: With regard to what Mr. Magdi said, about these organizations being terrorist organizations according to international law – international law is like toilet paper. It is made by the US, and they punish whoever they want, and make resolutions against whoever they want...
Mish'an Jabouri: I am certain that you cannot come here, because people would pelt you with the shoes of the martyrs and children killed by US bombs. I am certain that if you walked down a street in any Arab city...
Magdi Khalil: I will not respond to these abominations...
Mish'an Jabouri: You will be pelted with the shoes of children who lost their fathers, who were fighting the Americans whom you defend... Therefore, you will not be able to come to Doha, or to Damascus, the capital of resistance...
Magdi Khalil: No, brother, I've been to Doha.
Mish'an Jabouri: The people will pelt you with the shoes of children and widows. Therefore, you won't be able to come here. That's why we are here in the studio, while you are across the ocean, hiding behind your American masters, the murderers and criminals.
Magdi Khalil: The war on terror goes on, and it will prevail. Science, reason, progress, love, and peace will prevail over Jihad, over killing, incitement, propaganda, and over excusing criminals and justifying their crimes. All this will inevitably come to an end, because history means progress. The wheels of history move forward, not backward.
Faysal Al-Qassem: Your final word, Magdi Khalil. What is the future of these TV channels?
Mish'an Jabouri: These channels will continue to exist...
Magdi Khalil: These TV channels will end up in the garbage bin of history. Whoever calls for violence and killing will end up in the garbage bin of history.