Springfield, VA — Alhurra’s “Raise Your Voice” initiative is making a mark in Iraq, by reaching Iraqis and engaging with them about the future of their country. Since its launch just over a year ago, the Raise Your Voice initiative counters the propaganda spread by ISIL and provides a platform for citizens to discuss and engage on topics that underlie the appeal of extremist ideology. Using a multimedia approach (television, radio and digital), Raise Your Voice is directed at exposing ISIL’s true nature, highlighting its hypocrisy and countering its false claims of acting in the name of religion.
In the brief year since its inception, the Raise Your Voice Facebook page has nearly 1.3 million followers and stories posted to the page have nearly 350,000 comments and more than 100,000 shares. The radio call-in show has fielded more than 3,000 calls from Iraqis. Citizens from across the country say Raise Your Voice is one of the few places where they can express themselves freely.
- One listener called into the radio show to say, “I live under the control of Daesh here in Hawijah. I go to the upper floor to listen and participate in (Raise Your Voice call-in radio show). If Daesh catches me they would kill me.”
- A woman in Mosul posted on Raise Your Voice Facebook page, “You ask us to share our stories, I have thousands of stories, but I have been waiting for someone that will listen. We are hoping you will save us, or least support us with words.”
“The rise of violent extremism, as well as the underlying causes of that extremism, are the most dominant issues facing Iraq today,” stated Brian Conniff, MBN President. MBN manages and oversees Alhurra and the Raise Your Voice initiative. “For Iraqis living in ISIL controlled areas, this is one of the few outlets where they can express themselves.”
Raise Your Voice is not an echo chamber for those opposed to the extremist ideology. To the contrary, the Raise Your Voice platforms have attracted the interest of some ISIL sympathizers, who try to defend the extremist organization. They are met by Raise Your Voice moderators and other members of the audience who join in the debate to provide alternative points of view. These comments and engagement spark debate from both sides of the issue as a moderator facilitates the ongoing dialogue with both sides having a true conversation.
“Through the professional Raise Your Voice staff, especially the online moderators and call-in show hosts, we are able to have these conversations on TV, radio and digital platforms,” stated Conniff. “Radicalization experts say that such dialogue and debate encourages critical thinking and sparks discussions about violent extremism.”
According to surveys from international research organizations such as Gallup, 44 percent of all Alhurra viewers in Iraq say they saw something on the television network which led them to think differently about ISIL.
Raise Your Voice is operated by the non-profit corporation “The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.” (MBN).
MBN is non-profit corporate media outlet financed by the U.S. government through a grant from U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), an independent federal agency. The USAGM serves as a firewall to protect the professional independence and integrity of the broadcasters.
Find out more
Contact Deirdre Kline
Director of Communications, Alhurra Television, Radio Sawa