Egypt’s Coptic Christians get own satellite TV
Some Copts fear church's patronage of Aghapy TV due to be aired on November 14 will fan sectarian strife. By Jean-Marc Mojon - CAIRO
Egypt's beleaguered Christian Coptic minority is to launch its own satellite television this month, but even some Copts fear the church's patronage of the channel will fan sectarian strife.
In the aftermath of deadly riots in Alexandria on October 21 - the most serious intercommunal violence in years - religious Copts see the creation of the channel as an essential tool to assert their repressed identity.
A Biblical quotation and a glowing Jesus next to a Coptic cross top the channel's promotional poster, which promises viewers a bonanza of hymns, holy liturgies and documentaries on ancient monasteries.
Aghapy TV - which means "love" in the Coptic language - is due to start broadcasting on November 14 on Telestar 12, a US-operated satellite network which spans Egypt and several African countries.
"The channel is under the guidance of Pope Shenuda III himself, who appointed a general committee of 13 bishops," Aghapy executive director Father Bishoy al-Antony said.
He said the channel would be run out of a convent northeast of Cairo.
The launch will come less than a month after the CD release of a play produced by a church in Alexandria which was deemed by Muslims in the Mediterranean city as offensive to their faith.
Father Bishoy said the controversial film will not be shown on Aghapy TV. "But it's a completely Coptic outlook, we are not going to discuss anything except issues that are related to the Copts," he said.
"We first proposed to have our own radio in 1951. It was rejected and since then it has been our dream to have this TV... It is not easy to build churches in Egypt, so this is like home delivery, church on air," Father Bishoy added.
Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East and the church says they account for close to 10 percent of Egypt's 74 million inhabitants.
It says the television channel does not herald a more aggressive attempt to promote a religious identity against Islam and proselytise, but some secular Copts fear it will only fuel religious tensions.
for the rest of the article.
+Irini nem makarismos