Al-Azhar plans satellite television channel about Islam
Dressed in his robe and turban, Sheikh Khaled Al-Guindy sits in the plush offices of the main benefactor of his new satellite television channel and speaks about how modern technology can be turned to service for Islam. The al-Azhar scholar, who in 2000 launched a phone-in service for Muslims seeking religious guidance, is one of the founders of Azhari, a 24-hour channel due to launch on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year will start in mid-August. Read my interview with him here.
(Photo:Sheikh Khaled Al-Guindy, 31 May 2009/Tarek Mostafa)
The channel will be broadcast on both main satellite channels operating in Egypt and will be accessible worldwide. It will initially transmit in Arabic with some English and French programming and there are plans to add content later in Urdu and Turkish. Azhari received its initial 15 million Egyptian pounds funding from a Libyan businessman and philathropist, Hassan Tatanaki.
Guindy told Reuters the plan really got going about a month ago, when he officiated at the wedding of Tatanaki’s daughter. “The father of the bride and I forgot completely about that wedding and started to talk about a new wedding, about how to introduce this new channel to the rest of the world,” he said.
Guindy is hopeful that a new age, which he dubs the Age of Obama, is dawning in which a dialogue between Islam and the West will flourish. And he hopes his channel will play an important role in that conversation. Yet for all his modern touches, Guindy retains a deeply traditional side. He preferred to conduct our interview not in English or everyday modern Arabic, but in precise classical Arabic.