The media is an increasingly important weapon in the battle for hearts and minds that is raging in the Middle East – and beyond. Groups with what can only be described as an evil agenda, such as Islamic State, recognise the power of the media and are very savvy in its use.
From magazines to social media, terrorist organisations are developing powerful propaganda campaigns. And the advance of technology is making it possible for people to access these different types of media on the move, from a variety of devices, 24 hours a day.
Islamic State, which last year took over swathes of Iraq and Syria, is even using Western news outlets to promote its cause: the release of disturbing scenes of pleading hostages and gruesome killings are designed to attract coverage, spread fear and gain recruits in the West.
What is not so widely known is that Islamic State has a strategy of exposing youngsters within the territory it controls to graphic videos to desensitise them to violence with the goal of turning them into tomorrow’s terrorists.
While this is a worst-case scenario, it is widely accepted that the values children are taught will influence the adults they become. This has frightening implications not just for the Middle East but also for our own countries as these children are indoctrinated to believe that the “Christian” West is the enemy.
Almost daily, our news bulletins feature stories of people being radicalised, often online and through social media, who have then gone on to commit atrocities in the Middle East – and even within our own borders.
But this is not inevitable. Hearts and minds can be changed.
Akram* contacted SAT-7’s children’s channel, SAT-7 KIDS. He described himself as “very fanatical” but “tired and desperate” because though he was extremely devoted, he felt empty and that God was not pleased with him. Akram held hard-line views and a negative perception of Christians. But one day he was flicking through TV channels and came across SAT-7 KIDS. Akram told us:
“It was a competition programme and there was a question about Noah, so in my mind I answered the question they were asking and I waited to see if my answer was right or wrong. The question was written on screen but without answers. Then I was shocked to see the programme was presented by a lady with her hair loose!!! So I wondered, ‘Who is this woman presenting a religious programme with her hair uncovered?’ and, ‘What is her religion?’ Then I found out she is a Christian and I was shocked that Christians pray for [followers of other religions] and wish us good. This was the opposite of what I had been taught...and so my journey in search of Christ began…”
Through watching just a few minutes of a programme on SAT-7 KIDS, Akram’s views were turned upside down. He saw that Christians were not the enemy and that they wish others well. This witness prompted him to find out more about Christianity. Akram went on to give his life to Christ!
SAT-7 is combatting the torrent of violence and hatred being promoted by others in the troubled Middle East with peaceful and positive messages. We are careful not to attack the beliefs and ideas of others but rather present the Gospel in an attractive and winsome way. Our programmes are bright and colourful, attracting viewers of all ages with engaging content; they promote goodwill, tolerance and understanding.
This approach works! As Proverbs 10:12 encourages us, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs."
The vast majority (more than 80%) of SAT-7’s audience are not from a Christian background. Akram’s story is just one of the thousands upon thousands of supportive messages we receive from viewers every year. In addition to our television audience of at least 15 million viewers, SAT-7 has a growing online and social media presence. In 2014, the reach of our ARABIC and KIDS Facebook pages was over 39 million. This is a four-fold increase from the previous year!
The media has the power to change hearts and minds for good or ill. SAT-7 is changing them for good.
We need your support
We need your support to keep broadcasting the peace and hope of the Gospel to a region where others are promoting violence and despair. For every £1 you donate, SAT-7 can reach one viewer like Akram with Christ-centred programmes 24/7 for an entire year! A gift of £10 would thus enable us to reach ten viewers; £25, 25 viewers; £50, 50 viewers and so on.
*name changed. iStock image used for illustrative purposes
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