YouTube has blocked the Hamed.TV channel. The Arabic-language channel was focused on analysing the causes of Islamist extremism in the Arabic speaking world and suggesting solutions for it.
Hamed Abdel-Samad, 46, German-Egyptian writer and the founder of the Youtube channel, wrote on his Facebook page on 20 June 2019: “Islamists want to kill me in order to silence me, and YouTube fulfils their wish! My YouTube channel Hamed.TV was deleted today by YouTube without a warning.”
Abdel-Samad said that his Youtube channel, which had over 120,000 subscribers and over 25 million clicks, had targeted Muslims, secularists and atheists in the Arab world. The main focus thereof, Abdel-Samad explained, was “tackling the problems of extremism in the Islamic world”.
Abdel-Samad said on his Facebook page: “I published an appeal [on the Youtube channel] for young Muslims, warning them of the Islamic State’s terrorist propaganda”. In fact, the most prominent series program Abdel-Samad published on his channel was “The Box of Islam” (in Arabic Sundouq Al-Islam). In that program, he discusses some of the most pressing Islamic issues, revising and deconstructing Islamic beliefs, something considered unusual in Arabic media in general.
Abdel-Samad’s life remains massively threatened. Although he does not hold a public office, he has been living under German police protection with 24-hour surveillance since six years. Because of several security threats, Abdel-Samad has no permanent residence and moves only with protection in armoured vehicles.
In 2013, Egyptian clerics such as Al-Azhar professor Mahmoud Shaaban, a member of Al-Jama’a Al-Isalmiyya Asem Abelmajed and a Salafi scholar Abu Ishaq Al-Heweny issued an Islamic ruling (fatwa) against Hamed Abdel-Samad for writing a book on Islamic fascism. Abdel-Samad was accused of being heretic and must be killed for it. Shaaban said on Al-Hafez TV that: “after he [Abdel-Samad] has been confronted with the evidence, his killing is permitted if the [Egyptian] government doesn’t do it.”
In Abdel-Samad’s words: “social media networks allow Islamist channels that call for hatred and violence but keep silencing critical voices. In so doing, they support the jihadi media, which Islamists are keen to propagate worldwide! Where should this lead? Do we just want to accept that?”
*Hakim Khatib is a political scientist and analyst works as a lecturer for politics and culture of the Middle East, intercultural communication and journalism at Fulda and Darmstadt Universities of Applied Sciences and Phillips University Marburg. Hakim is a PhD candidate in political science on political instrumentalisation of Islam in the Middle East and its implications on political development at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the editor-in-chief of the Mashreq Politics and Culture Journal (MPC Journal).