For those too busy to stay updated on the everyday events of the Shia community, it will come as a surprise, as it has for me, to find out that Sayed Amar Nakshwani’s lectures have effectively been banned from the Ahlul Bayt TV Network (ABTV Network). Even worse, the reason for the banning only highlights the rather hard to obscure problem of censorship within the Islamic world.

In a private correspondence with Sayed Amar he shared with me the reason for his banning. According to him – and I am convinced that this in fact is the case – his lectures will no longer be played because he spoke positively about Dr. Ali Shariati, a popular lecturer on Islam.

If this is the case, two questions seem important to ask: firstly, what is so wrong with Dr. Ali Shariaiti? As a person who has read his works, albeit not at length, I can, on a personal level, say that his works seem to be of high calibre. Secondly, even if there are some controversial aspects to his works, though none have been pointed out so far, who really cares? Is it really ‘good for the cause’ to ban one of the most influential speakers within our religion today, whose positive reach and influence to the young members of this current generation can easily be attested to, simply because of a disagreement on personalities within the Shia School of Thought?

Since knowledge of this case has become known, I’ve tried to contact the ABTV Network, but as of yet no response has come back to me. When others have tried, whether by e-mail or phone, they met the same silence from the other side. But, in the spirit of fair discussion, I should say that the silence from the ABTV Network should not, necessarily, be taken as a sign of anything other than their unwillingness to speak about a controversial topic on a large scale. It wouldn’t be fair for me to hold a highly negative view of a network based upon one version of the purported events. But, if the silence continues, and the responses are delayed, people cannot be blamed for coming to their own conclusions on the situation.

Even though the heads of the ABTV Network have the full right to ban who they choose to ban, it truly is a saddening episode within this television networks young history. Not only has Sayed Amar been instrumental in making this channel quite popular, but serious questions about the shows integrity seem more then relevant now.

Instigating a campaign of censorship against scholars and speakers for such irrational reasons can hardly be defended. Better yet, if one is to listen to the many lectures by the Sayed, as I have, one rarely hears the name, or the beliefs, of Dr. Shariati propagated (if one could even use such a word).

I can only recall one  time when Sayed Amar mentioned Dr. Ali Shariati in one of his lectures. It was at a lecture I personally attended. The topic was on Shariati’s work entitled ‘’Fatima is Fatima’’. If you would like to see what sort of beliefs this man has then read the book which Sayed Amar used as a starting point for his lecture.

To me it appears the situation will remain as is, but from other sources that have reached me (such as friends of mines who claim to have spoken with the Sayed), it also seems that a reconciliation of sorts is in the works.

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