OIC television channel to project Muslim viewpoint

Iyad bin Amin Madani
Iyad bin Amin Madani

Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Iyad bin Amin Madani.

The world’s largest pan-Islamic body, the 56-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has taken another step toward launching a new television channel, with a search for partners and financial and other planning underway.

“The Islamic world today urgently needs to have a serious and meaningful television channel that would contribute to positive change and help Muslims achieve their goals,” said OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani.

His comments were read out by Maha Mustafa Akeel, the OIC’s communications director, during a recent meeting of the ad hoc committee tasked with launching the channel, at the organization’s headquarters in Jeddah.

Madani said the new channel would be broadcast across the world and discuss issues affecting Muslims, create awareness of Islamic teachings, and encourage solidarity that would ensure action is taken on critical matters as defined in the OIC charter.

He said developments taking place in the Islamic world has motivated the OIC to improve its media capabilities, which would be used to “defend and clarify our mission, identity values and culture, and invest in what this Ummah has in terms of its immense human and natural abilities.”

The meeting discussed the draft of a feasibility study submitted by Lola New Horizon (Madrid), Media Research and Consultancy (Madrid) and Creative Media Solutions (Dubai).

“We are now in the process of discussing the financial, legal and management aspects of the television channel,” said Akeel. “We will now be looking for partnerships with private investors and with those who have knowledge of the television industry.”

Akeel said the idea is to rope in experts with a view to making it a professional enterprise. “We are moving in the right direction, toward crystallizing the whole concept of a new channel,” she told Arab News on Thursday.

If everything goes according to the plan, the new channel may go on air “in a year or two.” It would be broadcast in English, Arabic and French, the three official languages of the OIC. “It will be aired through a satellite and will also be available via the Internet,” she said.

She said it would not be a 24-hour news channel. “We are not competing with CNN or BBC or other mainstream English or Arabic television channels,” she said. “But we will definitely focus on the core issues of the Muslim world, such as that of Palestine.”

There have been at least two leading media personalities in the Muslim world who are supporting the initiative, but one person has slammed it as an irrelevant project because of the massive technological advances in media recently.

“This is a great project and a very welcome development,” said Amer Smadi, who anchors the popular “Yatair” television program on Jordan TV every Friday. “We Arabs and Muslims keep talking among ourselves,” he said. “This channel will help us talk to those in the West who have either no idea or negative idea about our culture, our religion and our civilization.”

He said the new channel would fill a crucial communication gap between the Muslim world and the West. “It will help reach out to the people in the West and clarify our issues and positions to them,” he said.

Pakistan’s leading TV anchor and commentator, Nasir Baig Chughtai, welcomed the idea and said the most important requirement for it to succeed is that it should be thoroughly professional. “Only then will the channel be able to establish its credibility,” he told Arab News from Karachi.

He said he had attended the OIC’s 2005 Islamic Summit in Makkah and it was clearly felt then that such a modern medium was required to counter the wave of Islamophobia that has gripped many Western nations.

“We need to explain, not just to the West, but also to our younger generation what the Palestine issue is all about, what we are struggling for in Kashmir,” he said. “Because of the bombardment of the vicious and relentless anti-Muslim, anti-Arab propaganda from foreign TV channels, the real issues have been completely forgotten.”

He said in the recent Canadian elections, the victor, Justin Trudeau, enjoyed near complete support from the country’s peaceful Muslim community. “We in the Muslim world knew nothing about it and did not report about it,” he said.

Chughtai said the new channel should also be in Urdu because “an overwhelming majority of Muslims in South Asia speak Urdu.”

However, a Saudi-based Egyptian media analyst gave a brutal assessment of the project. “The Islamic world is in turmoil and technology has moved on. Social media is the in thing now. The OIC is 20 steps behind, even Daesh are ahead and know how to lure people toward their deviant ideology with slick media production,” he added.


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