EFD Praises European Commission’s Warning to France on Al-Aqsa TV

09 June 2010
The European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) and the Coalition Against Terrorist Media (CATM) today praised the European Commission for issuing a formal warning to France requesting its High Audiovisual Council (CSA) to enforce European audiovisual legislation and to cease broadcasting Al-Aqsa TV.
The French Foreign Ministry said that the "European Commission has recorded repeated violations of European legislation resulting from the content of programmes of Al-Aqsa TV - broadcast in Europe via French satellite Eutelsat - and inciting hate and violence." The Foreign Ministry also expressed confidence that the French authorities - and specifically the CSA - will "promptly take adequate measure."
"We welcome that the European Commission has taken a clear position against inflammatory broadcasts inciting hatred and promoting terrorism. It is now crucial that the CSA immediately stops the transmission of Al-Aqsa TV," said Roberta Bonazzi, Executive Director of the European Foundation for Democracy. "EFD holds freedom of speech as among the highest values. However, French and European legislation prohibit incitement to hatred and violence and terrorist organisations should not be permitted to abuse Europe's freedom of expression principles to promote terrorist ideologies," Bonazzi continued.
"Many of Al-Aqsa TV's programmes are aimed at children and serve to radicalise them by inciting vicious hatred and violence," said Alexander Ritzmann, EFD's Senior Terrorism Analyst. "A lack of decisive action against Al-Aqsa TV's blatant and continuous violations of French and European law would undermine the credibility of CSA's past efforts to deal with terrorist-controlled media and, most importantly, would allow an unacceptable and unlawful situation to be perpetuated by a silent laissez-faire," Ritzmann continued.
The CSA has previously issued a formal warning on 3 November 2009 reprimanding Eutelsat for broadcasting Al-Aqsa TV.
Al-Aqsa TV broadcast throughout Europe on Eutelsat's Atlantic Bird 4A satellite. Eutelsat is Europe's leading satellite operator and one of the world's top three providers.
Al-Aqsa TV is the television channel of Hamas, which is on the European Union's list of terrorist organisations. On 18 March 2010, the United States Treasury Department designated Al-Aqsa TV as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity (SDGT), noting that Al-Aqsa TV airs programmes and music videos "designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood."
The European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) is a Brussels-based policy institute dedicated to defending democratic values, promoting freedom and human rights, and countering the ideologies of terrorism. A founding member of the Coalition Against Terrorist Media (CATM), it works with its coalition members in Europe, the Middle East and North America to raise awareness of the threats posed by terrorist-controlled and funded media.