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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 00:22 GMT 01:22 UK
Hezbollah's unconventional quiz
Hezbollah flag (pic by Hugh Sykes)
Hezbollah is the region's largest radical Islamic movement
A game show aired by Lebanese militant group Hezbollah's satellite television channel has raised eyebrows.

In "The Mission", which is shown on al-Manar, contestants battle for points which enable them to step towards Jerusalem on a virtual map.

Questions range from the date of the French Revolution to names of militants who carried out suicide attacks.

The show has drawn criticism for being just a more subtle form of propaganda, the New York Times reported.

One US official even told the paper the programme was encouraging violence, nicknaming it "Name Your Favourite Terrorist".

The US regards Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation and has criticised al-Manar's programmes as being anti-Semitic.

But al-Manar spokesman Ibrahim Musawi told the newspaper that the show - which draws on contestants from across the Arab world - wanted to put its message "into a form that would appeal to a wider segment of the population".

"It is not in an ideological or a direct way, but in an entertaining way," he said.

Contestants compete for prizes of up to $3,000, with each question they answer correctly they move one step closer on a virtual map towards Jerusalem.

Should a contestant successfully reach Jerusalem the show plays a favourite Hezbollah song which declares "Jerusalem is ours and we are coming to it".

Palestinian issue

Hezbollah, or "Party of God", emerged in the early 1980s and rapidly became the region's largest radical Islamic movement.

Its early objective was to drive Israeli troops from Lebanon, but after Israel's withdrawal in 2000, it shifted its focus towards the Palestinian cause and is now a mainstream Lebanese political party, with nine members of parliament.

"These kinds of programs are very important, repeating the issue of the Palestinians, keeping it vivid in our minds, keeping it alive," former contestant Muhammad Abu Ghararah told the New York Times.

"We always have to remember the Palestinian cause and that is what Manar does."




SEE ALSO:
Analysis: Changing times for Hezbollah
30 Jan 04  |  Middle East
Lebanon rebuffs US over TV series
31 Oct 03  |  Middle East
Baghdad viewers shun home-grown TV
15 Apr 04  |  Middle East
Arab media seeks freedom to report
11 Dec 03  |  Technology
US attacks 'biased' Arab news
27 Jul 03  |  Middle East


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