Egypt’s Islamic TV talks with iron Salafist

A Muslim cleric hosting an Egyptian television show recently outlined his version of Islamic instructions for wife-beating. In another show, a cleric claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood, now governing Egypt, one day will rule the world.

“If not through peace, there is nothing preventing war. We welcome war,” said the second cleric, who added that “one of the tenets of the Muslim Brotherhood, which they cannot renounce,” is the goal of global dominance by an Islamic caliphate.

The shows aired on Egypt’s Al Nas network, a hard-line Salafist Muslim outfit that for years has flown largely under the radar of international observers.

The network was thrust into the spotlight last week when it broadcast Arabic-dubbed movie clips from what it described as an English-language film insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Riots and protests erupted throughout the Middle East and other parts of the Muslim world.

Protesters breached the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday, destroyed the American flag and raised a black banner used by Islamic extremists.

In Libya, terrorists killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and others in an armed attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Protests continued Sunday when hundreds of Pakistanis clashed with police as they tried to storm the U.S. Consulate in Karachi. One protester was killed and more than a dozen were injured.

U.S. officials last week cited Al Nas‘ attention to “Innocence of Muslims” — a crudely made independent film produced in the United States — as a flash point behind the wave of anti-American unrest.

Like Al Jazeera, CNN Arabic and other international satellite stations, Al Nas broadcasts live on YouTube and is piped into millions of homes across the Middle East.

A paradox of independence

A State Department official said “social media tracking” conducted by U.S. officials during the days leading up to the storming of the embassy in Cairo showed the programming was “being quite heavily watched.”

The situation seemed to underscore a paradox that faces U.S. diplomats attempting to understand how to conduct themselves in Egypt.

U.S. officials applaud the emergence of an independent Egyptian media spawned by the ouster last year of the nation’s longtime authoritarian leader, Hosni Mubarak. However, such independence appears to have made hard-line religious programming far more mainstream, especially for the strict, puritanical Islam of the Salafists.

Middle East analysts say it would be naive to credit a single Islamic TV network with spreading the rage sparked by “Innocence of Muslims.” They point to several catalysts, including the region’s sustained political instability and widespread unemployment plaguing its vast population of young people.

Salafist television programming has long existed in Egypt and was tolerated even under the authoritarian media restrictions imposed under Mubarak, who maintained a largely secular regime for 30 years.

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About the Author
Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.

His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.

Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...

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