Al-Manar is the official television station of Hezbollah, the Syria- and Iran–backed Islamic terrorist group. Based in Beirut, Lebanon, Al-Manar began broadcasting in 1991. Like its parent, Hezbollah, the station espouses an extremist Islamist ideology and incites hatred and violence.
Adam Ereli is deputy spokesman for the U.S. State Department. In addition to broadcasting throughout the Middle East, he says, Al-Manar also directs programming at America:
"Al-Manar Television is a T-V station in Lebanon, which is broadcast through satellite T-V here [in the U.S.] that is funded and run by Hezbollah, which is a designated terrorist organization. Al-Manar Television regularly has programs that perpetuate intolerance."
In 2003, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Al-Manar broadcast a virulently anti-Semitic television drama called "Al-Shatat," or "Diaspora." As Mr. Ereli pointed out at the time, the thirty-part series included such gruesome -- and utterly false -- scenes as the killing of a Christian boy as part of the celebration of the Jewish religious holiday, Passover. This is the infamous "blood libel."
The "libelous presentation by Al-Manar," said U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Ereli, "is despicable and merits the strongest condemnation possible. Such venomous anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in the civilized world."
Recently, Al-Manar started an equally vicious campaign against the U.S.-led effort in Iraq. It broadcast an image of the Statue of Liberty, wielding a knife and dripping with blood. The accompanying caption reads, "America owes blood to all of humanity." Al-Manar also aired a video with lyrics calling the U.S. the "mother of terrorism" and urging attacks with "rifles and suicide bombers" against what it termed the "invaders."
The U.S. firmly supports the principles of free speech and free press. These are standards that nations aspiring to democracy and international acceptance must uphold. At the same time, the U.S. will continue to speak out against media outlets such as Al-Manar that incite hatred and violence through their programming.