In an effort to put forth a good national image, the United States is considering building a Middle East Radio Network. With the negative image the country is given in many Arab nations, the United States wants to counteract that by exposing the countries to American ideas and culture.
While it is a good idea to work on our image, it must be done in a way that does not threaten Arab and Muslim sensibilities. Islam is a religion that greatly rejects secularization, and broadcasting secular radio in predominately Muslim nations may prove to only strengthen the negative image the United States already has.
Play lists and broadcasts would have to be carefully orchestrated so Arab and Muslim families would not object to their children listening to American music and other radio shows. The proposed network would broadcast AM and FM around the clock into countries that do not pick up the current U.S. government-funded international broadcasting service. There are 22 countries from Morocco to Jordan that do not receive the U.S. broadcasts.
The United States is doing well in its efforts to cull support in the Middle East. But for a country that touts entertainment as highly as many Middle Eastern countries hold their religions, the United States may prove to be a poor ambassador.
America will have to tone down its glittery image and cater more toward the conservative views of many sects of Islam. Though this conservatism is nothing new, as there are plenty of conservative groups in the United States, the American organizations tend not to reject secular society as Islam does. Islam’s survival and growth have depended greatly on its rejection of anything secular and its emphasis on the religious.
The United States should create a radio system to show Arab nations its good side, but should keep Muslims’ beliefs in mind when doing so.