The Irritable Sheikh: Will Salafi Satellite Shiekh's Get The Message?


08 January 2013

By Mshari Al-Zaydi

It is important for one to assess his own flaws from time to time. Should this be too difficult, or should one be blind to his own defects, then he should find another person to highlight them, ideally a close associate.

"Al-Hafez" is a renowned Egyptian satellite channel that expresses the trend adopted by the sheikhs and orators of the Salafi school of thought. The channel has indulged extremely naively and enthusiastically in the "talk show" format, freely broadcasting the unrestricted rhetoric of private sessions on to our television screens. Yet recently, having suffered several setbacks as a result of the way in which its presenters dealt with those who disagreed with their opinions, it seemed as though the channel was reconsidering its acts. Al-Hafez has realized that what is said in one place cannot necessarily be said in another, and that when it comes to a television screen, polite language must be used and presenters must be respectful when addressing the audience. Some Salafi "sheikhs", being new to this field, seem to have been ignorant of this fact regardless of the advice they received. Yet sometimes it is simply a case of trial and error.

The Egyptian Salafi star Abdullah Badr is renowned for his fierce battles against whoever disagrees in opinion with the fundamentalist currents. We saw this in the past with his terrible attacks on the Egyptian actress Elham Shahin. Yet Badr recently gave an exceptional statement on al-Hafez television when he said that he has decided not to appear on satellite channels any more. He claimed that al-Hafez channel, which he works for, had told him that he was an irritable person, and so this was his last appearance on the channel!

Speaking on his television program "In the Balance", Badr added that: "According to the channel's policy, they see me as an irritable and deeply-agitated person. I do not want anyone to say that I terminated my contract with the channel, for I have been working without a contract since 2006. People hope that the air of falsehood will soon disappear, and when this happens, I will return to the media."

According to al-Arabiya.net, Badr indicated that he would resume his work in the mosques, saying: "I have my mosques where I will speak to the people, and as for anyone who lacks decorum, I will not remain silent about them."

This example demonstrates what was already abundantly clear; the media is not an open space or an arena without limits. No matter how emboldened you are, there is a responsibility you must shoulder as an individual in the same manner that the media outlet, through which you publish or broadcast your material, must also be held accountable.

Being irritable, quick-tempered or furious at someone for known, or sometimes unknown, reasons does not mean that you can implicate your audience in your own problems.

This applies to satellite channels, newspapers, radio stations and other entities in the same manner that it also applies, in a moral sense, to bloggers on social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and so on.

I hope those who have become obsessed with the idea of absolute "freedom", glorifying it in their own manner, learn a lesson from this example and heed the following words of wisdom:

Words come with responsibility and your freedom ends where the freedom of others begins. Lying is a crime, cursing is a sin and claims must have evidence.

A Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism as well as Saudi affairs. Mshari is Asharq Al-Awsat's opinion page Editor, where he also contributes a weekly column. Has worked for the local Saudi press occupying several posts at Al -Madina newspaper amongst others. He has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic.

 

  EsinIslam.Com

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