Hezbollah Complains After Major Mideast Satellite Provider Drops Its TV Station – CNSNews.com

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(CNSNews.com) – In a blow to Iranian-backed terrorism, Egypt’s satellite operator has stopped beaming Hezbollah’s television station into millions of households across the region. Hezbollah complained that the decision serves the goals of its bitter foe, Israel.

Pressure for Egypt’s Nilesat to discontinue al-Manar (“The Beacon”) television appears to have come from Iran’s regional archrival, Saudi Arabia, which is leading an Arab campaign against Hezbollah – and by extension, the regime in Tehran.

The Sunni kingdom and Shi’ite Iran are backing opposing sides in the civil wars in Syria and Yemen. Last month the Saudi-led drive saw Arab League foreign ministers declare Hezbollah a terrorist group, and several Gulf states have cracked down against its supporters and sympathizers.

Tellingly, the Egyptian service provider dropped the Hezbollah mouthpiece just ahead of a planned visit to Egypt by Saudi King Salman.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that a Nilesat representative told the Lebanese telecommunications ministry that al-Manar had “violated their agreement by airing programs that provoke sectarian strife and sedition.”

In a statement, Hezbollah slammed the decision “to mute the voice of the Resistance” – as it terms itself – calling it “a flagrant violation to the freedom of opinion and expression.”

“As we in Hezbollah condemn these unjust decisions taken against al-Manar TV, we urge the officials in the Egyptian organization to reverse them immediately,” it said, adding that Egyptians were well aware that the moves “serve the ‘Israeli’ goals and demands.”

Hezbollah said the decision would not succeed in suppressing its voice, vowing to find ways around the measure.

Al-Manar then said on its website its programs could still be accessed, via Russian and Indonesian satellites.

The channel’s general director, Ibrahim Farhat, said it would challenge Nilesat’s decision,  “in order to keep its communication with its faithful audience in the Arab and Islamic countries,” al-Manar reported.

Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization whose existence as an armed militia contravenes several U.N. Security Council resolutions, also operates as an influential political party with seats in Lebanese cabinet.

The Nilesat decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for its television station. Last December another major regional satellite operator, Saudi-based Arabsat, stopped airing al-Manar.

Much earlier, al-Manar was targeted by U.S. and European authorities.

In 2004 a French court ordered a major European satellite provider, Eutelsat, to stop broadcasting al-Manar, on the grounds it had violated France’s laws against incitement to hatred. The same year, the U.S. State Department added al-Manar to its Terrorism Exclusion List.

In 2005 terrorism expert Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, testifying on Capitol Hill, said the station was “used by Hezbollah and Iran to radicalize Muslim youth and glorify violence, especially in the contexts of Israel and Iraq.”

“Al-Manar glorifies suicide bombings, calls for attacks targeting Israel, coalition forces in Iraq, and the United States, and seeks to create a radicalized constituency that is as likely to seek out terrorist groups themselves to join their ranks as they are to be sought after and recruited by these groups,” he said.

The following year, the U.S. Treasury Department listed the TV station, an affiliated radio station, al-Nour, and their parent company as specially designated global terrorist (SDGT) entities, charging that they facilitated recruitment and fundraising for the terrorist group.

“Any entity maintained by a terrorist group – whether masquerading as a charity, a business, or a media outlet –is as culpable as the terrorist group itself,” the department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence said at the time.

Several European governments have outlawed the station – including Germany in 2008, on the grounds its programming violated the German constitution by inciting hatred and terrorism.

Al-Manar has blamed its woes, including the French court ruling and the German ban, on pressure from “the Zionist lobby.”

Against the backdrop of the Syrian civil war, the Saudi-led campaign against Hezbollah has won support from most members of the 22-nation Arab League, with only Lebanon and Iraq opposing the motion last month declaring it a terrorist organization

By contrast, when a U.S. House bill seven years ago targeted Mideast satellite providers accused of producing incendiary material – citing al-Manar as well as Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV by name – the Arab League’s response was sharply negative. At a meeting in Cairo it slammed what it called “interference in the internal affairs of Arab states who regulate their media affairs according to national legislation.”

The House passed the legislation in a 395-3 vote, but it stalled in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Hezbollah Complains After Major Mideast Satellite Provider Drops Its TV Station – CNSNews.com}