Al-Azhar to 'counter extremism' with own TV channel

Ahram Online, Thursday 30 May 2013

Egypt's religious establishment to promote moderate version of Islam as counterweight to proliferation of extremist satellite channels

Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Egyptian Imam of al-Azhar Mosque (Photo: Reuters)

Al-Azhar, Egypt's leading seat of Islamic learning, is planning to launch its own television channel.

The channel will promote a moderate version of Islam, Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb said on Thursday.

It will be trialed in July to coincide with Ramadan and will feature social, cultural and historical programmes alongside its main religious content, El-Tayyeb said.

The state-run Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) will provide technical assistance to help launch the channel, he added.

There have been mounting calls for a channel monitored by the 1000-year-old Islamic authority to combat the growing number of Islamic channels spouting extremist rhetoric.

Infamous for their derogatory language, such channels are accused of delivering politically motivated fatwas and promoting extremist interpretations of Islam. They are also accused of launching smear campaigns against liberal and opposition figures.

Controversial preachers on Al-Nas and Hafez religious channels have been convicted of defamation.

On Wednesday, Khaled Abdullah, who presents a programme on Al-Nas, was slapped with a suspended fine of LE10,000 for slandering and defaming Egyptian actress Hala Fakher.

Abdullah Badr, another acid-tongued preacher, was handed a one-year sentence in December 2012 for insulting popular Egyptian actress Elham Shaheen on the Hafez religious channel.

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