June 9, 2010 | Press Release
Hamas Has Been Dealt Blow to its Terrorist TV Station
|Press Release June 9, 2010||
CONTACT: Judy Mayka 202-621-3948
Hamas Has Been Dealt Blow to its Terrorist TV Station
Coalition Against Terrorist Media Applauds European Commission's Warning to France
Washington, D.C. (June 9, 2010) – The Coalition Against Terrorist Media (CATM) praised the European Commission for warning the French broadcasting authority to shut down broadcasts of Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV on Eutelsat. The French-owned Eutelsat is the world's third largest satellite company. CATM monitors terrorist-owned media and has provided the European Commission and the French government with findings indicating that Al-Aqsa TV violates European audiovisual laws.
The Commission's warning comes after France's broadcasting authority, the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA), itself formally warned Eutelsat on 3 November 2009 — and on prior occasions — that Al-Aqsa TV broadcasts violate European laws, as noted in the Commission's letter to the CSA. [Note: The law is Article 15 of the 30 September 1986]
The station shows programs which “incite hatred or violence for reasons of religion or nationality,” said French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, responding to the new development. He said French authorities were confident the CSA would take rapid action to ensure content broadcast via satellites owned by French-based firms respected French and EU law.
“CATM calls on the CSA to take immediate action,” said Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which founded the coalition in 2004. “Taking Al-Aqsa TV off the air would demonstrate that incitement to violence and support of terrorism will not be tolerated in Europe. The Commission's warning and the presumed CSA action would be a critical blow to Hamas's effort to create institutions that masquerade as legitimate but in actuality provide operational support for its attacks and spread radical, jihadist messages.”
Dubowitz continued, “Europe has witnessed the impact radicalized groups can have on its population. To its credit, the European Commission has said, ‘enough is enough.' Hamas should no longer be able to act with impunity by exporting its hate and incitement from Gaza to the European continent.”
The European Commission's warning to the CSA comes on the heels of a March 18, 2010 announcement by the United States Treasury Department naming Al-Aqsa TV a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity. The announcement said that Al-Aqsa TV airs programs and music videos “designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”
According to the US Treasury Department, Al-Aqsa TV is financed and controlled by Hamas. In 2006, Hamas leaders raised over half a million dollars in capital for the network and in late 2009, Hamas senior leaders allocated it hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
In recent years, the CSA has ordered Eutelsat to cease broadcasting Egyptian TV channel Al-Rahma, the Lebanese TV channel Al-Manar, and the Iranian TV channel Sahar I because their programs show a pattern of anti-Semitism and incitement to violence. These are important precedents for taking action against Al-Aqsa TV.
Yet the pattern of broadcasts inciting hatred and violence has continued, even after several warnings by the CSA. On March 17, 2010, Al-Aqsa broadcast Yousuf Al-Sharrafi, a Palestinian Legislative Council Member from Hamas, calling for suicide operations in buses and restaurants: “The enemy will be driven out by means of martyrdom operations, like the ones that were carried out from the West Bank. Immediately after the  Hebron massacre, we witnessed the operations in Afula, in Hadera, in Dizengoff Street [in Tel Aviv], operations in Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip…If the enemy knew that it would pay the price – especially through martyrdom operations in its buses and its restaurants – it would think a million times before taking such measures.” [Source: MEMRI TV]
The leadership of Al-Aqsa TV is composed of senior Hamas operatives and officials. Its director, Dr. Mahmud Abu-Daf, is a member of the Hamas Shura Council, the organization's supreme religious council. Al-Aqsa TV's director from 2006 until 2009, Fathi Hammad, served previously as a leader of the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, an organization formally designated as a terrorist entity by the United States and the European Union. Currently, Hammad serves as Interior Minister of Gaza. According to Ma'an News Agency, in 2008 Hammad proclaimed, “The mission of the Al-Aqsa TV is to inform the world of the strong points about jihadist activity. The message of Al-Aqsa TV is a jihadist message.”
“Though some would seek to make this a free speech issue, it is not,” said Dubowitz. “On the contrary, governments have a responsibility to protect their citizens. It is disheartening that Hamas continues to broadcast incendiary material and programming that delays the peace process, ultimately hurting the Palestinian people.”
The Coalition Against Terrorist Media (CATM) was founded by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and works to raise awareness of the threats posed by terrorist-controlled and funded media and to ban it wherever it appears. The Coalition consists of Muslim, Christian, Jewish and secular organizations in Europe, the Middle East, and around the world. It is committed to working with both governments and the private sector to address the challenges of terrorist media.
For more information, please contact Judy Makya at 202.207.3698 or go to Foundation for Defense of Democracies/Projects/Terrorist Media.
|The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute dedicated exclusively to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism. Founded shortly after the attacks of 9/11, FDD combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism education, strategic communications, and investigative journalism in support of its mission. For more information, please visit www.defenddemocracy.org.|