German government blocks Al-Manar

Hezbollah broadcaster violates constitution

The German government has blocked reception of Al-Manar, the Arab-language satcaster controlled by Lebanon’s Hezbollah anti-Israeli guerrillas, for violating the country’s constitution.

The Beirut-based web, available to an estimated 10 million to 15 million viewers, is already barred in France and the U.S., which describes it as a terrorist organization.

Interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the web failed to promote international understanding as required by Article 9 of the constitution.

Al-Manar, which had no comment on the ban that took effect on Nov. 11, is the mouthpiece of Hezbollah, which played a major role in forcing an end to Israel’s 22-year occupation of south Lebanon.

Hezbollah itself is under observation by Germany’s intelligence agency but not outlawed. It funds Al-Manar, its sister radio station Al-Nour and the parent company Lebanon Media Group.

The European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels and the American Jewish Committee in New York cheered the ban.

Schaeuble “is to be applauded for removing a vile promoter of hatred and violence from Germany’s airwaves,” said AJC executive director David A. Harris. “Seeking to hide behind the protection of freedom of speech, as Al-Manar does, can be no defense for promoting religious or other forms of incitement to violence.”

The EFD said Al-Manar is used by Hezbollah to recruit terrorists and communicate with sleeper cells around the globe, and it urged all European countries to ban the web.

“The German government has taken an important step in contributing to European efforts to counter the spread of radicalization and violent ideologies,” said EFD exec director Robert Bonazzi.

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