Religious Broadcasting in the Middle East

30-31 January 2010

Report of a conference organised by Cambridge Arab Media Project (CAMP) in association with the Centre of Islamic Studies sponsored by International Development Research Centre in Canada

Download the Religious Broadcasting in the Middle East – Islamic, Christian and Jewish Channels: Programmes and Discourses report.

Since the mid-1990s, the influence of satellite television broadcasting in the Middle East has become central to the shaping of public attitudes in the region and beyond. While many of the main influential mainstream satellite channels are news-focused, entertainment and religious broadcasting are also significant. Religious Broadcasting in the Middle East offers a synopsis of a conference held at Cambridge in January 2010. It focuses on the discourses of a selection of Islamic, Christian and Jewish religious broadcasting channels, as well as the wider factors and structures that sustain them.

Dozens of Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious channels have been established, advocating differing forms of religiosity and shaping public perceptions through their transmission of discussion programmes, preaching, proselytisation pure and simple, and guidelines about how best to live a pious life.  Even mainstream leading news channels such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya have broadcast popular religious shows since their inception. Some of this programming is highly politicised, such as Hamas’s Al-Aqsa or Hizbullah’s Al-Manar channels; other stations present themselves as apolitical, concerned only with preaching God’s word.

The highly charged political and religious ferment in the Middle East today has certainly been propitious for such broadcasters as they seek to convey their message.  This has in turn reinforced the connection between the dominant ‘religious atmosphere’ and religious broadcasting. Based on monitoring and content-analysis of some of the region’s most influential religious channels and programmes, the contributors to this book offer pioneering insights into this uncharted terrain. They explore the themes, discourses, appearances and the ‘celebrities’ of this still expanding phenomenon of religious broadcasting in the Middle East.

Read more about the Conference on Religious Broadcasting