First Christian Channel in Egypt Airs Despite Religious Tension
- First Christian Channel in Egypt Airs Despite Religious Tension
Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005 Posted: 7:09:47PM EST
The first Christian satellite television channel in Egypt run by the major Coptic Church was officially launched on Monday amid mounting religious tension
According to the Agence France Presse (AFP), the channel named "Aghapy TV" - (http://www.aghapy.tv ) which means "love" in the Coptic language - was due to begin broadcasting on Nov. 14 in collaboration with Telestar 12, a U.S.-operated satellite network that spans Egypt and several African countries.
Aghapy TV is established by the Coptic Christian church, the main church in the predominately Islamic Egypt, according to BBC.
"The channel is under the guidance of Pope Shenuda III himself, who appointed a general committee of 13 bishops," Aghapy TV executive director Father Bishoy Al Antony told AFP. Pope Shenuda III is the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, the 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.
The launch of Aghapy TV comes less than one month after the Church was met with trouble over the production of an allegedly "blasphemous" drama. On Oct. 21, some thousands of mostly Muslim demonstrators protested against the St. George Coptic Church in the city of Alexandria. Clashes between the police and protestors left four dead and around ninety injured.
Even though some worry that the new Christian channel could further intensify rift between Christians and Muslims, Father Bishoy firmly denied such concerns.
"But it's a completely Coptic outlook, we are not going to discuss anything except issues that are related to the Copts," AFP quoted Bishoy as saying.
The director added that the TV channel has been the dream of Christians, noting the difficulty of building churches in Eypt
"So this is like home delivery,� he said of the TV channel, �church on air."
The channel is also the first in Egypt that contains purely Christian contents, including church services, family programs and documentaries about ancient monasteries, according to BBC.
The aim of channel, said Bishoy to BBC, is therefore to provide a link with the church to all those Copts who may not have access to a place of worship or who live abroad. It will also be able to establish a connection between the Copts in Egypt and Copts around the world.
Bishoy did, however, note that he has remains wary of some extremists, who may be watching the channel closely to find any possible evidence to charge against Christians and stir up hatred, according to BBC.
Since the last major unrest between Christians and Muslims in Alexandria, several churches have been sieged by extremist Islamist groups by the thousands, a Protestant church leader was beaten, and other mob violent attacks against Christian non-profit associations and eye-witness accounts have been reported.
Christians in Egypt only made up of around 10 percent of the 72 million-strong population, and most of them are Coptic Orthodox.