Freedom to Broadcast Hate

2014, Media  -   55 Comments
Ratings: 7.07/10 from 56 users.

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.

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55 Comments / User Reviews

  1. mke m

    Gang violence, the same as in ghettos here, just larger scope, same stuff, same 'o, same 'o
    Society raised to accept violent talk. Part of the culture. Same as Chicago areas, L A areas, etc, etc.
    Oversize, big blustering egos, coupled with a strong sense of low self esteem.
    Denial of self hatred that is projected out on others.
    It is common the world over but is worse in some areas where the conditions that encorage it are left unaddressed.
    White supremists, racial bigots, religious fundementalists, etc, etc.
    All the same disease, oversize ego coupled with extreme sense of shame and low self worth. Ask any shrink. It's really a simple diagnosis.
    Politics nor religion are NOT the foundational arguement w/ these whackos. It is low mself esteem coupled w/ etc, etc, etc, period.

  2. Rania

    The first few minutes of the documentary alone give me reasons enough why I shouldnt trust anything it says. 1st, sectarian violence is definitely not occurring between Shias and Sunnis. The two sects live in peace together. Its ISIS, a crazy terrorist group that knows nothing of Islam, killing anyone they like in Syria, Iraq and around the world. Second the documentary right away made it seem like the Middle East is facing violence everywhere and all the time. False again.

  3. Darko

    So Shias being blown up frequently and they investigate Shia 'sectarian' channels in the first 15 minutes

  4. Guest

    Programmes like this are actually hate, designed to condition the general UK/Irish public into hating Muslims . This is so the "government" ( corporations ) can make laws and murder people in other countries

    1. Elusive

      So true what double speak. BBC and other news channels are inciting hate and fear of Muslims for such a long time. They wont tell the full story what really happens in the middle east or anywhere else.

  5. Eric Lawson

    As an Atheist this is always frustrating. Here again Religion is the cause of Separation !!!

    1. Heinrich Berg

      If you think Atheism means removing racism, hatred of others, smashing down borders, and unifying the "human race", you aren't an Atheist, you're a Communist.

      Atheist just means you don't believe in god. If you're a Communist, say you're a Communist!

  6. Alan Shadrake

    I predict that the open door immigration policy o the UK will lead to similar sectarian conflicts in the not too distant future. The lines are already being drawn in London, Birmingham, Liverpool an other cities where Muslims are becoming entrenched.

  7. Richard Neva

    There are forces beyond this country that are manipulating hate among the sects. World bankers and their cult of miscreants foment hate against both groups to keep the carnage going and hopes for a larger war loom greatly. These two sects are the target for all this misery in this area!

    1. Jack1952

      Anyone listening to these nutbars are no better than your world bankers and their cult of miscreants. They can try to manipulate all they want but if no one listens or watches these stations, what good will it do them. Grass grows best on fertile ground. If these people weren't predisposed to this behaviour then the world bankers propaganda falls on deaf ears. The listener is as much to fault as the broadcaster.

    2. jaberwokky

      Congratulations, you managed to avoid blaming the Jews this time. Or was that what you meant?

    3. Pysmythe

      Just his long-winded way of spelling Rothschilde...

    4. jaberwokky

      So I'm not the only one who's copped this unsettling trend of Richard's then.

    5. Pysmythe

      I'm sure a lot of people have, but I'm glad he isn't getting a whole lot of attention for his hate. Every time I see anything by him, I just think "Nice hat, cowboy," and move on.

    6. jaberwokky

      "Nice hat, cowboy,"

      Lol, that's what I'll think forever after. Cheers man :)

    7. 1concept1

      At least he is posting what he thinks and not hiding under a rock -

      I don't know who Richard is making ref. to but what he is saying has merit -

      These private business people calling there self the "NEWS" continuing to rip us apart - I don't know about you but I have had about enough?

      "Democracy is like sorting eels out on the deck - (but I'll take over any other form of govt.)

      Like Richard Nixon said, (paraphrasing) "When a country is split down the middle it's primed for a dictator" -

    8. NX2

      No, he's hiding under a hat :)
      Yes it has merit what he says, but some are wondering who or what he is referring to with 'forces' and 'miscreants'.

    9. 1concept1

      He very well could be making ref. to the Jewish community -

      If that's what you are making ref. to Richard - It's the Right Wing Jewish community you need to be making your ref. to? They own most of the news media -

      There are thousands of everyday left wing Jews against the right wing control in Israel - and against what Israel is doing - and the Right Wing Jew in this country backing them -

      Ref. Norman Finkelstein (I know I messed up the spelling of his last name) - He Is Livid and totally against Right Wing Israel - (check out his doc. here on TDF).

    10. jaberwokky

      If Richard had said what you've just said then I wouldn't have felt it necessary to comment.

      And no, you didn't mess up the spelling for professor Finkelstein :)

    11. Greg Thompson

      He has a point jaberwokky, alas, it is a bit brief and overly general. But there is indeed a large connection between the growth of worldwide capitalist (and therefore financial institutions) and the state of the world today. especially in the middle east.the European empires have left a rather immense footprint there, hell, they are still leaving footprints there right now. They've even got their upstart Jock teenager on the job now.

    12. jaberwokky

      To a large extent I agree with you and to some extent Richard, I'm not denying there are what we could call 'dark forces' at work. My issue here is with whom these alleged perpetrators are purported to be and what might be insinuated in the comment. Anti-semitism is an ugliness of the spirit.

      If you've taken the time to read over Richard's comments you'll see what I mean.

    13. Pysmythe

      Exactly! It's not that we aren't screwing ourselves in regard to these things, but that there is plenty of blame to be spread around for it, whatever kind of hat you wear. Anyone who wants to limit it to Jewish bankers/influence isn't really looking at the numbers, as far as I'm concerned. Greed and a lust for power are just about the last traits to be monopolized by any one group, the last time I looked at human beings.

    14. jaberwokky

      And just to add to what you've so succinctly encapsulated I'd posit that the more obstinately we squint at one particular group while crying foul the less we see of the overarching masterful sleight of hand.

      Nobody seems to question who benefits from blaming the Jews.

    15. 1concept1

      The thought never crossed my mind but since you brought it up - i give up; who? -

    16. jaberwokky

      Apart from disgruntled old trolls, the ill-educated, and middle eastern leaders who's popularity is waning I honestly don't know. Looking back over our long and chequered history though it's not hard to pick out who our favourite GOTO scapegoat of choice has been.

      I'm not sure if this is just personal experience but I've noticed over the last few years a rise in anti-semitic vitriol, and more alarmingly, holocaust denial. Some people are way to ready to head down that road.

    17. Fabien L

      World bankers and their cult of miscreants is quite vague.
      Can you provide individuals or organizations names?

  8. Peace Bewithu

    Need more videos like this, exposing the division makers. Not just religion. Democrats versus Republcans, Fox Vs CNN, Athiests versus Religious, Jews Vs Muslims, Coke versus Pepsi.. It's everywhere!

    1. jaberwokky

      I noticed you don't have agnostics on your little TODO list.

    2. Fabien L

      Agnostics are only saying they don't know and that no one can claim to know. I guess you could label them as division makers as a 3rd voice between Atheists and Theists if you pushed the envelope. But once they stated no one can know there is very little left to argue about...

    3. jaberwokky

      Let's push the envelope then, being an agnostic I felt a little left out when I didn't see my beliefs represented on that list, especially seeing as coke and pepsi got mentioned. Perhaps it's time to start a militant agnostics movement.

    4. Fabien L

      lol ok, that will make for very short speeches for a change :)

    5. 1concept1

      Funny! "coke vs pepsi"

  9. Kansas Devil

    I suppose, like all similar past events, it's a result of poor education and cultural isolation and someone making money from controversy.
    Until those 3 items are addressed, this socially political and psudo-religious madness will continue.

    I wonder if there is a voice of reason being transmitted on TV in those countries.

  10. NX2

    I was going to put in my gut reaction about this stupidity, but then i realised, i really don't know enough about the situation. Where does the hatred come from? i feel as if this documentary didn't address this properly. Let the Sufi's dance, shall we?

    1. jaberwokky

      I did a quick Google on Sufis because I'm factually ignorant. Still am. I have a feeling you have something to say worth hearing though? ...

    2. NX2

      Ah yes, mentioning the Sufis or Sufism is just my way of saying that the distinction between Sunni and Shia might perhaps be a to simplistic one. Sure, they are the two major branches within Islam (though i think the Shia community is a minority in comparison to the Sunni's), and there has always been a bit of a conflict between the two, although not always a violent one. But Sufism, among others, could be considered a branch too (though some oppose to Sufism as being a heresy, like the Wahhabist and Salafist), although Sufis can be found amongst Sunnites as wel as among Shi'ites (no pun intended). I could be wrong, but i don't believe Sufis carry out hatred or violence, as they practice a more inward form of Islam of 'love and devotion' through prayer, chanting, dancing up to a trance like state ( imagine the Whirling Dervishes). Sufis seem like tollerant people to me, like the Ibadist. Point being that Sufis are amongst both sects, they can get along with each other pretty well. So, there might be a historic reason of the conflict, but i'm wondering what the real reason or motive is for the uprise of the hatred and the violence in these days.
      But anyway, this is just my perception, i'm hardly an expert on the matter, but i hope, worthwhile enough? :)

      edited: I crammed in a few more Islamic branches, just to show it's not all about Sunnites or Shi'ites, or that none of both are coherent groups.

    3. jaberwokky

      Thanks for that, most informative. I definitely have a bit more reading to do for a fuller picture of these Islamic divisions. General media coverage being what it is I am somewhat familiar with extreme branches like the Wahhabists and Salafists but not so much with the likes of the Sufis.

      Something else : The ever more fragmented nature of all the various Abrahamic religions should on its own suggest something fundamentally wrong with the whole premise but that line of reasoning seems to be avoided like the proverbial elephant in the room. Until I was 12-13 I was raised as a Catholic in Ireland and repeatedly reminded that Protestants (our enemy) were going to hell. Even before I finally rejected religion I knew there was something seriously wrong in this division, especially as I considered Protestant beliefs more reasonable than the Catholic beliefs (purgatory, papacy and the immaculate conception for instance). I find it strange that opposing sects don't cause more people to question the nature of religion itself.

    4. NX2

      Actually, after i replied i've done a bit more reading about Sufism and Islam in general. Damn, it's a lot, i'm not sure if i' ll be able to remember all of it. I guess it will require repeated reading. However i came across the Qalandariyya, a bunch of wandering Sufis who were very willing to experiment with mind altering substances such as alcohol and hashish. I don't know, but somehow i'll remember that :)

      Yeah, questioning the nature of religion itself, that's a tough one. So many definitions. But i think the fragmentation has also a lot to do with the attachment of identity and self worth to a particular form, rather than with the value of the beliefs themselves. As i understood from my further reading, many Islamic sects formed over a conflict of whom or whom not was a rightful Caliph (ruler) at the time, like more than a thousand years ago...that seems bizarre, trivial to me. More politics than religion.

    5. jaberwokky

      "i think the fragmentation has also a lot to do with the attachment of identity and self worth to a particular form" - that's been part of my conclusions as well. Maybe it's also what gives a person the blindness needed to overlook all the flaws in what they've chosen to invest themselves in.

      There was something said by a famous guitarist a long time back that's stuck in my head for years, I never knew why it persisted until recently. Basically he said that religion was never meant to be organised as it is nowadays, it was meant to be a personal experience, unique to each person. When I look at all this fragmentation I now see a lot of sense in that opinion and maybe something that cuts to the heart of the problem. Was religion ever meant to be a fast food conglomerate with various splinter cells and franchises?

      I'm rambling :/

      And yes, definitely more politics than religion.

    6. NX2

      A good kind of rambling i'd say. Is that guitarist Frank Zappa by any chance? I believe he said something of the kind.
      It's a very good point though, religion shouldn't be organised, because it's quite clear that with that comes politics and struggle for power. Not that i'm against power and politics, it can't be avoided, but it shouldn't be religious of nature.

    7. jaberwokky

      Close enough, it was Steve Vai. I'd imagine he must have developed some of his outlook from Frank though seeing as he spent so long with the band and he obviously idolizes the man. Frank always struck me as a guy with a wealth of valuable things to say and Vai always seemed the consummate student.

      And to think that there are people on this planet opposed to secularism eh?

      I'll have to go rooting around in the garage for my Zappa collection now, just got the urge to listen to some Hot Rats :)

  11. jaberwokky

    Sectarian violence and the hate mongers who fan the flames. It never ceases to amaze and appal me the lengths some people will go to protect their specific interpretation of a fairy tale.

    'Religion of peace' indeed.

    1. Peace Bewithu

      You just fanned the flames yourself, can you spot it?

    2. jaberwokky

      If I was religious you would have a point. I'm not though, they're all the same to me.

    3. BlueBoxBum

      Your opinion's right, there's is not. Sounds the same to me.

    4. jaberwokky

      And I'm sure my words have inspired a whole bunch of people to go on a killing spree too :/

  12. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    45:55 ---> End

    Was the best 5min "wrap-up" / closing statement ever!

    It encompases an outside perspective of hate. That provides grand example of why its continuation in propagation, through "allowed" hate / violence speech. Is only fueling the fire that burns.

    Outstanding documentary!!!
    +1 TDF!
    +1 BBC!

  13. rudeboi

    Religion needs to be abandoned and banned..

  14. Fabien L

    Interesting documentary on Shia and Sunni extremist television but why the heck did they project all these images on a wall in some kind of warehouse then filmed them? It's very distracting and adds absolutely nothing to the documentary.

  15. watchtheduck

    Consider the fact that it is illegal and that one can be accused of anti-Semitism if one talks unfavorably about Jews. Then compare that to the lack of any restriction over what can be said in regards to any other race or religious sect. How many people, I wonder, ask themselves, why is this? Are the Jewish people the only ones who have suffered from war and genocide? The answer is no, and yet there is this disparity. Who owns the stations that are allowing this hatred? That is another question we should be asking.

    1. Fabien L

      it's not inconceivable that some of these TV stations are financed by the secret services of foreign powers that have a political, strategic or economic advantage in having both branches of Islamism at each others throat.

    2. Jack1952

      I don't know where you live but in my country, if I advocate violence against any group, I will likely face criminal prosecution. I could be wrong but I see a veiled accusation in your comment. I get the feeling that you might be suggesting that Jews are responsible for these stations. Although, I have to agree with you on your final point. It would be extremely helpful to know who exactly owns and sponsors these stations and their programming.

  16. vcragain

    Boy am I glad I grew up in a non-religious household in a mainly "fair and balanced society" in UK ! My mind is totally free of all this mind-bending rubbish.
    My GOD ( -IF- he is listening) is a tolerant, loving GOD with understanding of how much we humans want to feel there is order and point to our existence. BUT since he is not really obviously involved in our daily lives, we are left to figure out for ourselves what is truth.
    All religions are only ONE person's literal interpretation of what THEY say God has told them, and what they say has to be organized as a way of life - if you just follow along, you are an idiot - there are too many variations of this theme for any one of them to be "the only truth".

    1. 1concept1

      Organized religion and i've said this many times on here before, in my opinion is more deadly then all the Nuk. stock piles Globally -

      I am not an atheist by Nature -

      "organized religion worships and prays to segregated "gods" -

      Their "gods" communicate with and to them thru a secondary creation - The Koran the Bible etc.

      There is direct and instant communication with the Deity by Nature -

      There is no segregation interpretation or sub division of the Deity by Nature -

    2. bringmeredwine

      Now that is very true and so well put.
      I couldn't watch this.