In a recent episode of Al Jazeera’s flagship debate show “The Opposite Direction,” well-known TV personality Faisal al-Kasim asked a representative from the Syrian opposition why they have not “expelled” the Shias that live in areas they control.
In a short clip that has been circulating on social media from the show’s September 13, al-Kasim points out a number of “Shia colonies” within Syria’s Sunni-majority areas. He then asks guest and opposition figure Abdel Munther Zain al-Deen why anti-Assad rebel forces have not expelled the Shias from areas under their control in revenge for crimes against Sunnis by forces in support of the regime.
“You want to liberate Syria? Go to the coastal cities.” says al-Kasim in the video clip. “That’s what Syrians say. Go to Damascus. Go to the areas that support the regime and attack them!”
At one point, al-Kasim points out several cities with Shia populations in rebel-held areas and asks “Why don’t you expel them like they did to you and curse the ones who gave birth to them.”
The fiery outburst was translated into English by UK-based MENA think tank Integrity UK, who shared the clip on their Twitter profile. It was heavily retweeted in both Arabic and English.
Prominent Al-Jazeera anchor promotes sectarian discourse by advocating for the expulsion of Shias from Syrian towns. pic.twitter.com/IPcIpxIJfD— Integrity UK (@integrity_UK) September 15, 2016
Al-Kasim, born in Syria’s Suwayda province, has been outspoken against the Syrian regime. His active Twitter feed is commonly filled with harsh language and pictures that attack both the regime and the groups that support it.
Just this week, al-Kasim tweeted a picture of a paper airplane, mocking reports that the Syrian army shot down an Israeli warplane over Syria.
This isn’t the first time that al-Kasim’s on-air rhetoric has sparked controversy. “The Opposite Direction” host regularly pairs guests together who have radically opposing viewpoints, which often leads to verbal - or even physical - fighting.
During a show from May of last year, al-Kasim controversially proposed the question of whether all Alawites in Syria deserve to be “completely slaughtered.”