Christian broadcasters in the Middle East are responding to violence with a message of hope and forgiveness
‘I’m sick of blood,’ an Istanbul nightclub owner told Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper after a terrorist gunned down 39 partygoers on New Year’s Eve. His words strike a chord – much of the news we hear from the Middle East prompts a similar reaction. Six years after the heady days of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen have become blood-soaked stages for warfare and brutality. Meanwhile, the region’s most populous countries – Turkey and Egypt – respond to deep divisions and terrorism with increasing authoritarianism. Christians, such as the 27 worshippers killed in a Cairo church bombing in December, remain extremely vulnerable.
But there is a brighter story unfolding, away from the headlines. Christians in the Middle East and North Africa are increasingly using the media to communicate a vision for more grace-filled, compassionate societies, a call to respond to disturbing events with faith and forgiveness. One particularly successful vehicle for that message is the broadcaster SAT-7.
Established in 1996, SAT-7 has grown to a network of four channels, broadcasting 24 hours a day in Arabic, Farsi/Persian and Turkish. Independent research conducted in 2016 revealed the audience for its Arabic language programmes alone was over 21.5 million viewers – a 76% growth over five, politically troubled years.
This is an extract from the March 2017 edition of Reform.