STANDING WITH VIEWERS IN HORROR AND HOPE
As both positive and tragic events unfold in the turbulent Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, SAT‑7 crews and partners based in several nations are on the scene to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep”.
On 18 November, thousands of Christians gathered for “The Return Festival”, a joyful event in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan as progress continued to recapture Mosul and surrounding towns from so-called Islamic State (IS). Believers who fled IS in 2014 joined in prayer and worship as they anticipated the liberation of their homeland.
Thanks to connections with event organisers Life Agape Iraq and an Erbil–based TV studio, SAT‑7 transmitted the event live to millions of Arab viewers who could join in at home.
Less than a month later, however, SAT‑7 joined mourners in Cairo after a suicide bomber killed 25 Christians at worship in a church next to Cairo’s main Coptic Cathedral. Most of those killed and the more than 40 people injured were women and children.
AT THE SCENE
Within an hour of the tragedy, a SAT‑7 camera crew arrived at the scene to speak to shocked mourners. The next day, SAT‑7 broadcast the funeral of the victims followed by a special edition of current affairs show Bridges, which featured interviews with local church leaders and commentators.
SAT‑7 Arabic Channels Director George Makeen said his fellow Egyptians felt intensely the insecurity and sadness of their situation. Although the Coptic Christians took comfort that their relatives died as martyrs, Makeen said SAT‑7’s programs also gave them the freedom to express their grief and shock. “To comfort them you need to allow them to be human,” Makeen said.
Feelings of vulnerability surfaced again at the entry of the new year when the bullets of an ISIS terrorist mowed down 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub. Although few attending came from a Christian background, an IS statement claimed it was targeting Christians as they celebrated a “pagan feast”. SAT‑7’s Turkish team, who are based in the city, appealed for renewed prayer for their country which has been experiencing attacks from both IS and Kurdish separatist insurgents.
Meanwhile, SAT‑7 TÜRK’s live prayer program, Prayer Season, begun last year, has triggered an outpouring of viewer requests as it shines the light of God’s love in dark and difficult days.