Guest post by DaveM
Within the last couple of weeks a new TV channel has appeared on my sat dish, nestling between Press TV and the Syria Drama channel. Other TV channels on that transponder include Hamas’ channel Al Aqsa and the TV channel of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Palestine Today.
The TV channel is Syrian State TV’s religious channel Nour A-Sham (Light of Syria), and is yet another attempt from the Ba’athist regime to stifle the uprising this time using clerics and religion. The Jerusalem Post quotes the TV channel’s mission statement as declared by the Syria’s official news agency.
One day before the start of Ramadan, the once avowedly secular regime of Bashar Assad in Syria has found religion amid growing civil unrest threatening to reach the capital Damascus.
A new government-run religious TV station, Nour A-Sham (The Light of Syria) began test broadcasts on Friday, the official SANA news agency reported. The channel is to broadcast Friday sermons and religious programming “to provide a correct understanding of Islam and Islamic rules,” SANA reported.
While it appears that the secular Syrian regime has suddenly found God, this is what it’s been doing on the ground to places of worship, according to an August 13 Al Arabiya report.
“Since the beginning of the military operations against civilians the Syrian security forces have targeted a number of mosques in a number of Syrian towns.
“This began on the 25th July when the Az-Zafaran mosque in the Bab As-Saba district of Homs was subjected to heavy bombardment in a military campaign carried out by the security forces and the Shabiha.
“And on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan a similar thing happened to the Sahn mosque in Hama.
“On the 10th of Ramdan the minaret of the Othman Bin Afan mosque in Der Az-Zor was subjected to violent shelling which caused its upper section to collapse.
“But it didn’t just stop at that as some mosques were broken into and vandalised as what has happened at the Imreija mosque in Homs where its walls were daubed with graffiti threatening demonstrators with death and accusing them of treason.
“Some of the clerics see this campaign on mosques as an attempt to intimidate citizens from heading to them as they are the starting point for the protests as they have become the only available places in which protesters can meet and gather.
“The Syrian regime is accusing imams of playing an vital role in inciting the citizens to continue demonstrating by doing this through sermons and the exhortations of ‘God is great’ which ring out from the minarets which play a role in stirring up the protestors thus making them the target of the security forces’ artillery.
“And one of the clerics wondered if the political leadership knows about these activities and conduct (by the security forces), as he was finding it odd that it’s reached this point where it’s (only) going to increase tensions.”
What I know about Islamic jurisprudence you could fit on the back of a postage stamp, but this certainly doesn’t look like a “correct understanding of Islam and Islamic rules” to me.