(Photo: Al Azhar mosque in Cairo, 10 March 2010/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Egypt’s al-Azhar’s satellite channel that seeks to promote moderate Islam launched four language services to extend its reach to millions of Muslims worldwide, its designers said on Sunday.
Al-Azhar, one of the oldest seats of Sunni Islamic learning, will target viewers in English, French, Urdu and Pashto besides its now running Arabic programs, in a renewed effort to further U.S. President Barak Obama’s call for greater religious tolerance. The station was launched to coincide with Obama’s visit to Cairo in mid-2009 and his call for better ties between the Muslim world and the United States.
“There is a wide open market for religious moderation on the airwaves,” said Sheikh Khaled El Gendy, Azhar religious scholar and one of the channel’s content developers. “We are competing with voices of intolerance for the attention and loyalty of young people,” said Gendy, who hosts a live call-in program for viewers struggling with the interpretation of Islam to seek guidance.