Hezbollah TV - in Paris
By Micah Halpern
If you live in France, are a Muslim sympathizer, speak Arabic and have access to satellite television, you are probably a fan of al Manar broadcasts. If you aren't, you are probably asking the question: How could the French broadcasting authority even initially have allowed al Manar TV air time?
Thankfully, at least for now, the French court has pulled the plug on al Manar. Or have they?
Al Manar is the satellite television station of Lebanese-based Hezbollah, the Party of God. According to Western definitions, though not French definition, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. The station is headquartered in Lebanon and serves the general Hezbollah community through satellite transmission, as it does in France. It covers the issues that Hezbollah sympathizers find of interest and then adds some international affairs coverage with a uniquely Hezbollah-esqe slant. It also explains to the general Arabic audience about the goals of Hezbollah. It comes as no surprise to learn that the al Manar orientation is rabidly anti-Western, assuredly anti-Israel and always anti-Semitic.
When watching any al Manar broadcast one cannot help but be struck by the sheer ridiculousness of their conception of "news." This station actually makes al Jezera look liberal and Western- loving. Some might call Al Manar content and stories anti-historical, but I prefer to call them "creatively historical." A favorite story line is the perpetuation of medieval stereotyping of Jews and Israelis as money grabbing controllers of the world.
What finally caught the attention of authorities? Al Manar is about to be bounced off French airwaves because of their assertion, their constant repetition, that the Zionists are infecting Arab countries with terrible diseases like AIDS.
What poppycock! Who could possibly take that seriously?
It got to the point, though, where even the commonly anti-American and anti-Israeli citizens of France could no longer countenance such lies being broadcast on their airwaves. Finally, the highest administrative court in France accepted a petition by France's broadcasting authority known as the Higher Audiovisual Council (CSA) to ban al Manar.
When al Manar was originally given a license to broadcast, they agreed to follow French law. French law clearly prevents the use of mass media to propagate hatred and racism. Everyone knows who Hezbollah is, what Hezbollah advocates and why Hezbollah would have the need for television broadcasting. So why did the French let Hezbollah television broadcast in the first place? Because of the craziness of French Law. This first liberal democracy cannot forbid broadcast until a communications corporation violates the law.
Now that al Manar has been found in violation of the law they have 48 hours to stop broadcasting. It that doesn't happen, their sponsoring satellite broadcast agency, Eutelsat, will be fined a 5000 Euro a day. That comes out to about a measly $7500 a day. Not much at all.
Eutelsat has already gone on the record as opposing the court's decision to single out and censure al Manar. I would not be surprised at all if Eutelsat absorbs the fine and pays it on a daily basis. And then? Then al Manar continues broadcasting as usual.