The head of the Communications Office in the Archdiocese drew my attention to the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) TV today. It is a real window into a reality we rarely see–or want to see, for that matter. The stuff on this site makes our local whacky imam, the Grand Mufti, look like a true liberal pluralist democrat. Some of it is truly scary.
According to their website, MEMRI TV monitors channels like Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai), Palestinian Authority TV (Gaza), Al-‘Alam TV (Iran), Al-Manar TV (Lebanon), MBC TV (London), Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar), Iqra TV (Saudi Arabia), Syrian TV (Syria), and Al-Majd TV (United Arab Emirates).
They aim to “bridge the language gap between the Middle East and the West” by translating interviews and news clips of Islamic clerics and leaders, Arab and Iranian journalists and editors, academics and researchers, public opinion and policy makers, politicians (parliamentarians and government officials), military experts, intellectuals, and authors. They cover subject like Iraq, the US and the Middle East, Israel, Islam, Jihad and Martyrdom, Palestinian Authority, Reform in the Middle East, and Antisemitism in the Arab World.
Amid all this, it is only the subject area of “Reform in the Middle East” that gives one any real hope. For instance, here is >video of an interview with someone identified as “Bahraini Liberal Author Dhiyaa Al-Musawi” (>you can read the transcript here). A snippet to whet your appetite:
As for the policy of non-violence, I’d like to give you the example of Gandhi, whom I consider a hero. If only we could obtain some of Gandhi’s genes, and plant them in the brains of our youth in the Arab world…
Interviewer: In your home, you have pictures of Martin Luther King and Jesus on the wall.
Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: In my home, I put up a picture of Jesus, because whenever I look at his picture, worlds of peace and love open up before me. It was Jesus who said: “Love thy enemies, bless them who curse thee.” We need this beautiful language in our society. I also have a picture of Gandhi, whom I consider to be a very fine person, and whose [image] we should plant in the minds of our youth.
Some of us say: “May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians, the offspring of apes and pigs.” Is this the language of progress? Is this the language of enlightenment and tolerance? If you had been born in Rome, you would have been Christian, if you had been born in Tehran, you would have been Shiite, and if you had been born in Saudi Arabia, you would have been Sunni, and so on. How wonderful it would be if all these people could gather in love around the table of humanity.
As I said, there is hope among the scary bits!