Freedom to Broadcast Hate

2014, Media  -  48 min Leave a Comment
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Sectarian violence is ripping the Mid-East apart. The two sects of Islam, Sunni and Shia, are fighting against each other in Syria and Iraq. Tensions are rising across the region, but what's provoking this wave of violence? This documentary investigates the TV channels that fan the flames of sectarians and asks how influential they really are.

BBC Arabic travels to Iraq, Egypt and Kuwait to track down the most extreme TV channels. They find out who is behind them and how they're funded. They track down some controversial preachers and discover that some of the most offensive TV programs originate not just in the Arab world but in London too.

Free speech bloomed as the Arab Spring overthrew the dictators across the region. Dozens of new political and religious stations began broadcasting. But sectarian hate channels are also taking advantage of this freedom. BBC Arabic monitored dozens of Islamic religious channels over six months. In this program they focus on six of the most extreme. Some of their content is too inciteful to broadcast and much of it is highly inflammatory.

These channels exploit the tensions between Shias and Sunnis. The two sects formed more than 1400 years ago over a disagreement about who was the rightful successor of Prophet Muhammad. But the division hasn't been this widened for hundreds of years and nowhere is this division more visible than in Syria and Iraq.

Sectarian bloodshed in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, is worse now than it has been for years. Violence erupts almost every day, with explosions, car bombs, and assassinations. Hundreds of civilians are murdered every month. During a 24 hours time span there were 18 attacks, 91 people were killed and 150 injured. This is what Iraq has to face every day.

Under Saddam Hussein, Sunni minority ruled the mainly Shia population, but following the 2003 American-led invasion, the Shia took power leaving the Sunnis feeling marginalized and paving the way for years of sectarian bloodletting.