Ramadan TV sets Yemen viewers on 'right path'

By Faisal Darem in Sanaa


During the holy Muslim fasting month, Yemenis gather in public places to watch Ramadan television programmes broadcast on big screens. [Faisal Darem/Al-Mashareq]

During the holy month of Ramadan, Yemen's visual media will be working hard to promote positive values and raise awareness about extremism and terrorism, executives at a number of satellite TV channels told Al-Mashareq.

In addition to the economic, social and psychological damage groups such as al-Qaeda and the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) inflict inside Yemen, they said, these groups distort the image of Islam in other societies.

"The visual media play a major role in correcting misconceptions in society, including extremism, which has taken many innocent lives in all provinces," said Yemen Today TV (Al-Yemen al-Youm) director general Faisal al-Shabibi.

The channel's programmes aim to raise awareness about extremism and terrorism, he told Al-Mashareq, adding that these topics are a core theme in news programmes and talk shows in Ramadan or any other month.

"The channel airs awareness-raising segments against terrorism and extremism that feature scenes showing victims of terrorist attacks in Yemen to remind viewers of the tragedies caused by this extremist ideology," he said.

Two programmes on this theme that are airing in Ramadan are "Ummaton Wasatan" (Moderate Community) and "Min al-Qalb" (From the Heart), al-Shabibi said.

Ummatan Wasatan is a religious programme in which scholars discuss the importance of adopting moderation as a way of life, he said, while Min al-Qalb speaks directly to the audience.

The audience for each of these shows is religiously devout and takes the contents of these programmes seriously, he added.

Promoting positive values

Over at Al-Saeedah TV channel, programming director Mukhtar al-Qadsi told Al-Mashareq that raising awareness against terrorism and extremism is accomplished via religious programmes that promote moderation and centrism.

These include "Majlis Ramadani" (A Ramadan Discussion Session), hosted by renowned scholar Mohammed bin Ismail al-Omrani, who is known for advocating moderation and centrism as a way of life.

With its religious programmes, Al-Iman satellite channel also seeks "to raise awareness about the importance of tolerance, moderation and the rejection of extremism, hatred and terrorism", said channel director Mohamed al-Lawzi.

Two programmes directly address the topic of extremism, he told Al-Mashareq.

A number of episodes of "Nabad al-Shareh" (Pulse of the Street) have been devoted to discussion of ways to combat extremism, terrorism and their negative psychological and socio-economic consequences on society, he said.

Nabad al-Shareh includes public opinion polls interviews with security agency personnel, scholars and intellectuals, he said.

Meanwhile, "Wa'tasimu" ('Hold firmly to', from a Qur'anic verse) promotes moderation, centrism, solidarity and compassion, al-Lawzi said.

Al-Iman TV periodically airs awareness-raising segments to remind viewers of the negative consequences of terrorism on society and the importance of resisting groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, he said.

The holy month of Ramadan is a great time to promote moderation and centrism through religious programmes and drama series, said media professional Khaled Allaw, a producer at al-Saeedah channel.

But raising awareness against terrorism and extremism must be done on a continuous basis throughout the year to reap the most benefits, he told Al-Mashareq.

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There must be awareness campaigns against terrorism through TV and radio programmes and online posts in order to eliminate all forms of terrorism. Also ask righteous scholars to explain Islamic thought. Anything against our Islam should be rejected because it doesn't belong to Islam.