View Full Version : Satellite TV Sparks Iraqi Culture War

05-15-2005, 04:21 PM
Satellite TV sparks Iraqi culture war

Knight Ridder Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Oprah has a fan base in Iraq. Iraqi mothers fret about the amount of time their teenagers spend watching "Star Academy," an Arabic-language cross between "American Idol" and "The Real World."

And an ad for the satellite channel MBC's new lineup - which includes "Inside Edition," "Jeopardy!" and "60 Minutes" - declares: "So you can watch what THEY watch."

Satellite dishes, which Saddam Hussein and his underlings withheld from ordinary Iraqis, have sprouted everywhere since his regime fell. They sit on the roofs of mansions and sidewalk vendors' stalls, pulling in hundreds of channels from all over the world. Even squatters in a bombed-out and looted club once reserved for air force officers have a receiver set up, next to a swimming pool filled with trash and a layer of green slime.

Before the war, television was all Saddam, all the time. Even music videos featured his image. Iraqis giddy to be free from the propaganda snapped up satellite dishes soon after American tanks rolled in. Watching television is one of the few safe forms of entertainment left in a country living under curfew and the constant fear of violence.

Some see it as a second invasion by the West that threatens Iraqi values.

"It's the main means to broadcast poison in homes," an editorialist in the daily newspaper al-Mutamar wrote recently. "There is a war between satellite channels and the Iraqi family."

An anonymous Iraqi blogger lashed out at the saturation of the airwaves by shows such as "Survivor" and "The Bachelor" by suggesting a reality TV program of her own.

"Take fifteen Bush supporters and throw them in a house in the suburbs of, say, Fallujah for at least 14 days. We could watch them cope with the water problems, the lack of electricity, the checkpoints, the raids . . . ," the blogger wrote. "We could watch their house bombed to the ground. . . . We could see them try to rebuild their life with their bare hands."

Critics of satellite television usually are reacting to flashes of flesh on channels such as Rotana, the Arabic version of MTV, or scenarios that offend conservative Muslim sensibilities, such as the impropriety of unrelated men and women living together.

The hit program "Star Academy," for instance, throws a cast of would-be singers from across the Middle East together in the same villa. Cameras broadcast their every move 24 hours a day, and once a week viewers vote off one of two candidates. The current cast includes Iraqi heartthrob Bashir al-Qaysi.

Iftehar Sahim Hussein, 38, a housewife and mother who wears the head scarf of traditional Muslim women, said her family decided against buying a satellite dish although they had the $100 to spare for its purchase.

"My husband says it's like Satan in the house," she said. "It makes people tempted."

Mujahedeen - holy warriors - in Fallujah considered it enough of a menace to threaten stores that sold satellite receivers that allow access to pornographic channels, and the owners promptly posted disclaimers in their shop windows.

Sheik Basheer al-Najafi, one of the country's top Shiite Muslim clerics, recently argued during a sermon that cultural domination by the West posed a greater danger than physical occupation.

Satellite television "can demoralize the young generation by introducing ideas that are foreign to them and their religion," he said.

Seems like a mixed bag. Hopefully it will be a postive development in the long run...

05-15-2005, 05:34 PM
What is funny is that this will do more than any US Gummint propaganda machine.

And the good thing is that it will allow Iraqi people to see the REAL world, instead of the Sodomite Matrix they have brainwashed by for so long....

05-15-2005, 10:50 PM
Originally posted by Hardrock69
What is funny is that this will do more than any US Gummint propaganda machine.

And the good thing is that it will allow Iraqi people to see the REAL world, instead of the Sodomite Matrix they have brainwashed by for so long....

I don't know about that.... The effects could be very negative as well. Remember that these Muslims are religious fanatics. If our religious nutcases get all upset over Janet Jackson's tits in a Super Bowl halftime show, think of how theirs would react.

Every May & November it could be "ratings Jihad" on the Iraqi networks. Literally....

05-15-2005, 10:57 PM
for every positive there is a negative

05-16-2005, 06:04 AM
After these people watch "Full House" a few times on Nick At Nite there will be a reward for the head of John Stamos.

05-16-2005, 08:40 AM
Originally posted by Redballjets88
for every positive there is a negative

True. But I think one positive is that this breaks some of the stereotypes muslims have of the West. It also puts our "decadence" into perspective as opposed to just rumor.

Interesting to note how some Iraqis already see how much "reality" TV sucks.:)