US plans more broadcasts to Muslims

Peter Feuilherade
BBC Monitoring, July 23, 2002 Link

The US House of Representatives has voted to increase American radio and TV broadcasts to Muslim countries and to promote other public diplomacy measures in an effort to counter rising anti-American sentiment.

The Freedom Promotion Act of 2002, passed on Monday, allocates $135m to expand radio and TV programming from the US to Islamic nations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to broaden access to what legislators described as “uncensored news and entertainment”.

The act provides a total of $255m over two years to improve State Department communications strategies, finance academic exchange programmes, English-language teaching and twin-city partnerships – all with predominantly Muslim countries – as well as expanding US international broadcasting.

Funds would also help to modernize technology used to distribute information about the United States and increase translation services at overseas posts.

“Much of the popular press overseas, often including the government-owned media, daily depict the United States as a force for evil, accusing this country of an endless number of malevolent plots against the world,” Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said in Monday’s debate.

The Republican representative from Illinois, who is the chief sponsor of the bill, added: “Even as we strike against the network of terrorists who masterminded the murder of thousands of Americans, our actions are widely depicted in the Muslim world as a war against Islam.”

There is a need, Mr Hyde said, to ensure that “the truth about our country rises above the cacophony of hate and misinformation that often passes for discourse in many areas of the world”.

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