Wednesday, March 01, 2006
A new religious satellite station has just opened today. It is called "El Resala" or the message. The channel belongs to the Rotana group, the popular music and movies channels owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.
I first saw El Resala yesterday. They were just announcing their opening ceremony today in Cairo and advertising their future programs. I admit the channel caught my attention. It is hip, youthful, and it appears that the programs have no problem interviewing women with uncovered hair. All female employees are hair covered though. Besides, regardless of your opinion on him, I respect Prince Alwaleed as a great businessman and I feel he wants to do something regarding the abyss of darkness we're living in.
Now my hopes regarding El Resala. First, I hope the channel would not turn out to be another Iqra, the popular religious channel with the habit of having radical clerics. I mean, let's not give the poor people at Memri another channel to monitor!
Second, I hope El Resala will somehow tackle the crucial issue of religious reform. In other words, to discuss issues such as reforming Sharia law, Islam's position visavie the values of liberal democracy, and how Islam can follow the footsteps of Christianity and Judaism in signing a peace agreement with these values. These are the most crucial issues we face today. Not democracy but religious reform. Liberal democracy cannot mix with unreformed religion, the history of Europe is a great example of that.
"The channel aims at providing a modern Islamic message that communicates with the world in a new way without compromising the values and religious principles" said Dr. Sweedan, El Resala's managing director.
Now, I would really like to know what kind of principles and values Dr Sweeden is referring to. Are they the basic elements of the religion such as prayer and being a good person, or are they things like Sharia law and women rights? I don't have a problem if he doesn't want to change the first. I do have a problem though if he's aiming at not touching the latter.