MuBro’s start broadcasting from Turkey

Turkey-Based Muslim Brotherhood TV Channels – An Emerging Hotbed Of Extremism, Jihadi Ideology, And Antisemitism

Just one sample of what’s on offer:

Turkish political commentator Hüseyin Güneş recently evoked the ethos of jihad in the context of Turkey’s threats to carry out another incursion into Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria. In a January 2018 show on Channel 9, he said:

“When the Turkish soldiers go to war, it is as if they are going to their wedding or graduation ceremony. They go with love, hoping to die as martyrs. We do not consider this to be a war against several thousands of terrorists only. This is a war against America. If we defeat it in the region, this will spell the beginning of the end for America, just like Russia [sic] in Afghanistan.”

Introduction

Since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government of President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt in 2013, several TV channels affiliated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have started broadcasting from Turkey.  Journalists, pundits, activists, and Islamic clerics who escaped the crackdown against the MB and its media outlets carried out by the regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi have set up shop in Istanbul, where they operate freely under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his MB-affiliated Justice and Development party (AKP). The new channels promote the goal of restoring an MB regime in Egypt, and also promote a variety of regional and global causes, while using extremist jihadi and antisemitic rhetoric.

From Cairo To Istanbul: Historical Background

The first Egyptian MB television channel, Misr 25 (“Egypt 25”), was launched in Cairo in September 2011, following the January 2011 Arab Spring revolution in Egypt that brought down the regime of president Hosni Mubarak, only to be shut down two years later following the July 2013 counter-revolution. An attempt to rebrand it as AhrarMisr 25 (“Free Men of Egypt 25”) and establish it abroad was unsuccessful, and the channel faded into obscurity before shutting down completely.

The first MB channel to be launched in Turkey was Rabea TV[1] which began broadcasting in 2013. It was followed by the establishment of other MB-affiliated channels, but only a handful of these are still operating. Foreign satellite service providers, most notably the French-supervised Eutelsat, stopped broadcasting Al-Thawra, Misr Alan, and Rabea TV itself, or the channels closed down due to financial difficulties. Rabea TV, for example, was ordered removed from Eutelsat in 2015 by the French broadcasting authority for disseminating violent images.[2] Today, five MB channels still broadcast from Istanbul: the political channels Watan, Mekameleen, Elsharq and Channel 9, and a religious channel called Dawah TV.

The four political channels are dominated by Egyptian MB figures and are all virulently opposed to Egyptian President Al-Sisi, but they have different target audiences. Watan is aimed at hardcore MB members and supporters; Elsharq – owned by former Egyptian presidential candidate Ayman Nour – and Mekameleen are directed at the young Egyptians who started the January 2011 Arab Spring revolution in Tahrir Square and throughout Egypt. Channel 9 is aimed at a general Arab audience, and devotes more airtime to non-Egyptian issues and causes.

The channels regularly promote anti-West jihadi ideology, use antisemitic rhetoric, and express ambivalence towards terrorism.

Elusive Funding

The MB channels refrain from revealing their sources of funding, and, in most cases, who owns them. When asked about their sources of funding, most claim that they are financed by like-minded businessmen whom they decline to name. However, there are indications that the money comes primarily from Qatar.

According to Egyptian media reports, Qatar has been bankrolling Mekameleen TV, which is the only channel that has never had to suspend operations due to financial difficulties, by using production companies that were established specifically to conceal the identity of the Qatari funders of Mekameleen and other MB media outlets.[3] Elsharq TV, which was purchased in 2015 by former Egyptian presidential candidate Ayman Nour, is also apparently financed by Qatar. Rami Gan,[4] a shady Egyptian activist who had spent two years in Istanbul working for Mekameleen and Elsharq TV before returning to Egypt, said in a December 2018 interview on the Egyptian Extra News channel that Qatar had much more of a hand in Elsharq’s editorial decisions than Turkey did.[5]

Muslim Brotherhood TV Channels And Their Nemesis The Al-Sisi Regime

The MB networks regularly bash and criticize Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, and on them he has been accused of being a dictator and archvillain on par with Hitler and the pharaohs.[6] He has even been targeted with the ultimate insult – of having a Jewish mother. In one Elsharq TV broadcast, the two hosts discussed whether Al-Sisi only behaved like a Jew or if his mother was actually of Jewish descent.[7]

In a January 2015 show on Rabea TV, Sheikh Salama Abdel Qawi went so far as to call for Al-Sisi’s assassination. Since fleeing Egypt, Salama, an advisor to the Minister of Religious Endowments under president Morsi and who, during the Mubarak and Morsi eras, had had his own show on Al-Nas TV, has become a regular guest on the MB channels. On this occasion, he stated that killing Al-Sisi would be a “good deed that would bring [the killer] closer to Allah,” and added, to the applause of the audience, that anyone who killed Al-Sisi would “become a martyr.”[8]

The channels’ incitement does not stop at threats against the Egyptian president. Commentators and hosts have called for terror attacks against foreign interests in Egypt and against journalists, tourists, and diplomats. In January 2015, Muhammad Awadh said during a show on Misr Alan that journalists who support President Al-Sisi should be killed: “The crime of the accomplice is equal to the crime of the perpetrator… The punishment of those [coup-inciting] journalists [should be] death.”[9] Sheikh Wagdy Ghoneim said on the same show: “Whoever can bring us the head of one of these dogs and Hell-dwellers [i.e. Egyptian journalists] will be rewarded by Allah.”[10]

In early 2015, Rabea TV aired what was referred to as “Communiqué No. 7 by the Leadership of the Revolution Youth.” The communiqué warned foreign nationals in Egypt to leave the country within two weeks, lest they be “targeted by the movement of revolutionary retribution.” Foreign companies were given an additional week to terminate their operations in Egypt, and after that “all their projects [will] be targeted by the rebels.” The communiqué also warned foreign diplomats to leave Egypt within the month, and also that there would be attacks on the Middle East interests of all countries supportive of the Al-Sisi government. The announcer concluded: “There will be no concessions, [nor any] show of mercy.”[11]

Spreading Jihadi Ideology

Citing anti-West grievances, hosts and commentators on the various MB networks have often been lukewarm in their condemnation of jihadi attacks in the West, and have on occasion blamed the West for the terror directed against it. For example, former Egyptian MP Mamdouh Ismail, on a show on Elsharq TV that aired shortly after the January 2015 attacks in Paris that left 17 dead and 22 wounded, called France “the mother of terrorism.”[12]

One of the MB networks’ most vocal advocates of anti-West jihad is the Egyptian historian Dr. Mohamed Elhamy, who hosted an Islamic history show on Mekameleen TV throughout 2017 and who still appears regularly on the channel. In one episode, Dr. Elhamy said that jihad will continue “until Judgment Day”[13] and prayed for further Islamic conquests “so that the world may taste the joy of living in the shade of Islam, after having tasted the humiliation of living under other nations.”[14] In another, Dr. Elhamy called Spain “a country that has left no mark on the map of civilization, except in the Islamic period,” and added that “the Islamic conquests brought good to humanity in its entirety, whereas the [European] occupation would confiscate the resources of [the occupied nations] in order to expand its own capital [cities] at the expense of others.”[15]

Similar sentiments have been expressed by Dr. ‘Ateya ‘Adlan, one of several Egyptian MPs-turned-television-hosts operating in Istanbul. In August 2017, he said on Mekameleen TV: “The Islamic nation… will inherit the land, Allah willing, and will constitute the rising civilization. Western civilization is going completely bankrupt.”[16] In May 2015, Dr. ‘Adlan said on Elsharq TV that the Quran taught Muslims how to fight the infidels and that it ordered them to “strike their necks from above, and chop off all their fingers which they use to wield a sword.”[17]

In another example, Algerian political analyst Reda Boudraa assured viewers, during an October 2017 show on Mekameleen TV, that the Islamic nation is on the rise while the West is “taking a nose-dive.” He explained:

“[The West is] going down full force, with brutal iron weights pulling it down. At the same time, the Islamic nation, with the weight of its civilization, which is deeply rooted in history, with its geographically diverse human magnitude, with its ideological and mental pull, and with the blood of the people who rejected the hegemony [is on the rise]… [The West and the Islamic nation] will collide at a mighty clashing point. That clashing point will be the watershed moment.”[18]

Another proponent of anti-West jihad, with his own show on Channel 9, is Libyan researcher Ali Al-Siba’i. In an October 2018 episode of his show, he said:

“The imperialist-colonialist mentality of the Romans was inherited by Europe in the Middle Ages, as well as today. I’m talking about Europe in general, about Europe and America. Today, it is [America] that spreads its influence. America wants to oppress and grab each and every region. This mentality can only be smashed by jihad – not defensive Jihad, but offensive jihad.”[19]

Turkish political commentator Hüseyin Güneş recently evoked the ethos of jihad in the context of Turkey’s threats to carry out another incursion into Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria. In a January 2018 show on Channel 9, he said:

“When the Turkish soldiers go to war, it is as if they are going to their wedding or graduation ceremony. They go with love, hoping to die as martyrs. We do not consider this to be a war against several thousands of terrorists only. This is a war against America. If we defeat it in the region, this will spell the beginning of the end for America, just like Russia [sic] in Afghanistan.”[20]

Torchbearers of Antisemitism

Antisemitism is ubiquitous in the broadcasts of many TV networks throughout the Arab world.[21] In recent years, two groups of channels have stood out for their antisemitic rhetoric: those operating under the Iranian broadcasting authority, and the MB-affiliated networks. These channels include Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV in Gaza, Al-Yarmouk TV in Jordan, and the Turkey-based MB channels discussed here.

A case in point is Mekameleen TV’s flagship show “Egypt Today,” which is hosted by Egyptian journalist Mohammed Nasser. Nasser often devotes the show’s opening monologue to antisemitic tropes. For example, in a June 2017 show, he said, after talking at length about the villainous exploits of the Rothschild family:

“[This Jewish family] owns half of the world’s riches, or at least 70% of the uranium reserves and one third of the fresh water. They control the price of gold, the World Bank, and most of the banks in the world, in addition to many companies like CNN, satellites, Hollywood, and pharmaceutical companies…”[22]

In an episode of the show that aired in December 2018, Nasser discussed the “Jewish-controlled” film industry that allowed the Jews to cast off the image of being a “stinky, greedy, and miserly” people and attribute it to the Arabs instead.[23]

Dr. Ali Al-Siba’i, mentioned in the previous section, has also warned his viewers about the Jews, and has referred to them as the “descendants of apes and pigs.”[24] In a show that aired in September 2018 on Channel 9, he spoke nostalgically of the days when Arab school curricula encouraged children to hate Jews: “In the early 1970s and 1980s, notions like ‘Jews,’ ‘plunderers,’ and ‘Palestine’ were deeply rooted in our school curricula. You grew up hating the Jews, whether on the basis of Islam or of pan-Arabism.”[25]

Conclusion

Arab TV are rife with jihadi, antisemitic, and anti-West rhetoric. But the MB channels operating from Turkey stand out for their extremism even in this toxic atmosphere. The French broadcasting authority has managed to eliminate some of them from satellites, but they have been quickly replaced by other, equally extremist networks. Further regulation and governmental action by the West seem to be the only recourse.

 

* Y. Feldner is Director of MEMRI TV.

 

[1] Rabea Al-Adawiyya Square in Cairo was the site of a July 2013 sit-in by supporters of President Muhammad Morsi after he was deposed by then-defense minister ‘Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi, who was later elected president. In August the square was cleared by security forces in an operation that left several hundred dead, and the square has since become an important symbol in Muslim Brotherhood martyrology. The Rabea “sign,” a four-fingered hand gesture, signifies support for Morsi and opposition to the current Egyptian regime.

[2] Csa.fr/Arbitrer/Espace-juridique/Les-textes-reglementaires-du-CSA/Les-decisions-du-CSA/Diffusion-de-sequences-violentes-sur-Rabia-TV-Eutelsat-mis-en-demeure, June 3, 2015.

[3] Youm7 (Egypt), March 7, 2017.

[4] Rami Gan, a Christian Egyptian, took part in founding the Egyptian Nazi Party in 2011; see MEMRI TV Clip No. 3131, Founders of the Egyptian Nazi Party: All We Want is World Supremacy for the Egyptian Race, September 22, 2011. He then worked for the MB in Turkey before making a deal with the Egyptian security authorities that allowed him to return to Cairo.

[5] Extra News TV (Egypt), December 16, 2018.

[6] Mekameleen TV, February 7,2018; August 7, 2018; September 2, 2018.

[7] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6901, Egyptian Journalist Emad Albeheery on MB TV: President Al-Sisi’s Mother Is Jewish,  December 10, 2018.

[8] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4752, Calls to Kill President Al-Sisi and Egyptian Journalists on Muslim Brotherhood TV Channels. January 10, 2015.

[9] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4752, Calls to Kill President Al-Sisi and Egyptian Journalists on Muslim Brotherhood TV Channels. January 26, 2015.

[10] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4752, Calls to Kill President Al-Sisi and Egyptian Journalists on Muslim Brotherhood TV Channels. January 26, 2015

[11] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4762, On Muslim Brotherhood TV from Turkey: Threats of Terror Attacks Against Foreign Nationals, Interests of Egypt. January 19, 2015.

[12] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4706, Former Egyptian MP Mamdouh Ismail Reacts to Paris Terror Attack, on Muslim Brotherhoood TV: France Is the Mother of Terrorism. January 7, 2015.

[13] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6051, Egyptian Historian Mohamed Elhamy: Jihad Will Continue Until Judgement Day. May 27, 2017.

[14] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6075, Egyptian Historian Mohamed Elhamy Prays to Allah for Further “Islamic Conquests”June 10, 2017.

[15] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6088, Egyptian Historian Mohamed Elhamy: Spain Has Left No Mark on Civilization Except under Islam. June 17, 2017.

[16] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6222, Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence ‘Ateya ‘Adlan: Arab Revolutions Are Part of Islamic Revival That Will Inherit Western Civilization. August 28, 2017.

[17] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4988, Former Egyptian MP ‘Adlan: The Quran Teaches The Muslims To Chop Off the Fingers of the Infidels. May 17, 2015.

[18] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6250, Algerian Political Analyst Recommends Hatching Anti-Western Conspiracies: The West Is Taking A Nose-Dive, We Must Curb Its Evil. October 19, 2017.

[19] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6835, Libyan Researcher Dr. Ali Al-Siba’i Refers to Jews as “Apes and Pigs,” Adds: Offensive Jihad Is the Only Way to Smash European and American Colonialism. October 27, 2018.

[20] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6399, Turkish Political Commentator Huseyin Gunes: In Syria, Turkey Fights the U.S., Not Just Terrorists; If We Defeat America, This Will Spell the Beginning of Its End. January 27, 2018.

[21] For more information on antisemitism in Arab media, see the MEMRI Tom Lantos Archives on Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial.

[22] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6868, Muslim Brotherhood TV Host Mohammed Nasser: Rothschild Family Controls World Economy, Rose to Power Nefariously. June 20, 2017.

[23] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6907, Egyptian MB TV Host Mohammed Nasser: The Jews Used To Be Seen As Despicable Big-Nosed Outcasts, But Through Cinema They Replaced This Image With Arabs. December 11, 2018.

[24] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6835, Libyan Researcher Dr. Ali Al-Siba’i Refers to Jews as “Apes and Pigs,” Adds: Offensive Jihad Is the Only Way to Smash European and American Colonialism. October 27, 2018.

[25] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6780, Libyan Researcher Dr. Ali Al-Siba’i: The Treacherous Nature of the Jews Appears in the Quran; Napoleon Pretended to Convert to Islam. September 1, 2018.