First Published: 2009-01-09

France takes Hamas TV off air in Europe

Eutelsat halts broadcast of Noorsat to Europe less than 24 hours after it was added to satellite network.


Middle East Online

Media war on Hamas

PARIS - The Palestinian group Hamas's television channel was taken off the air in Europe less than 24 hours after it was added to a satellite network, industry officials said Friday.

Hamas announced on Monday that Europeans would be able to see its Al-Aqsa service via the French firm Eutelsat's satellites.

Al-Aqsa is Hamas' official mouthpiece, and its critics say that it has a show in which a man-sized pink rabbit named Assud urged children to embrace martyrdom and threatened to eat Jews (‘Jews’ is the name Israeli soldiers had used to identify themselves when communicating with Palestinian refugees, many of whom still in Gaza).

Alerted by industry sources, the French broadcasting regulator CSA this week wrote to Eutelsat and warned that much of Hamas' programming contravenes laws against inciting hatred and violence, the government body said.

A Eutelsat official said the company had never had a contract with Hamas but that it had rented space on one of its satellites to Noorsat, a Bahrein-based provider, which had in turn begun showing Al-Aqsa.

Noorsat was warned to respect French law, and the broadcast has halted.

"Al-Aqsa TV is notorious for its incitement to anti-Semitism," the Simon Wiesenthal Centre claimed in a letter to French regulators.

The Jewish human rights organisation alleged Al-Aqsa had last week carried a speech by Hamas official Mahmud al-Zahrar "who claimed that the Israeli operation in Gaza justifies Muslims murdering Jewish children worldwide."

The group claimed that Arabic-speaking Europeans could "be exposed to Jihadist calls for attacks on their Jewish neighbours and to revulsion for European values of secularism, multiculturalism and tolerance."

Critics say pro-Israel groups, which are influential in Europe, often exaggerate or even outright lie about the nature of Hamas discourse.

Critics add that Israeli channels also include Islamophophic or racist content, and they frequently justify Israeli terror or killings of Palestinians without being ever cut off the air.

In May 2005, France's highest judicial body the Council of State ordered Eutelsat to halt re-broadcasting of the Lebanese Hezbollah's Al-Manar station.

However, facts on the ground suggest that Jewish extremism is inciting hatred, leading to more death and destruction.

Israeli calls to annihilate all Arabs are not unheard of among top figures and symbols of the Jewish State.

Among the many infamous instances, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, founder of the Shas religious party, had said: "It is forbidden to be merciful to them (the Arabs). You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable. May the Holy Name visit retribution on the heads of the Arabs and cause their seed to be lost."

Recently, commenting on the war on Gaza, former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu said that all civilians living in Gaza are collectively guilty for Kassam rockets, and thus deserve their punishment.

Such views are seen to have led to the slaughtering of Palestinian civilians, where a third of the victims are children.

According to Eliyahu’s religious ruling, that there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during the massive Israeli military offensive on Gaza.

However, extreme views do not pass through Hebrew media or Al-Aqsa TV alone. Christian extremists are also playing their part in the media game by justifying Israeli or US war crimes.

But as long as double standards prevail, Al-Aqsa TV will continue to be singled out for what it is alleged to have aired.


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