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Radical religious Al-Nas TV gains influence in Egypt

BBC Monitoring

Analysis by Muhammad Shukri of BBC Monitoring on 26 June

    Al-Nas (The People) TV, an Arabic-language religious satellite TV channel which broadcasts 24 hours a day from the Media Production City in 6 October City in Egypt, has mesmerized Egyptian and Arab viewers generally.

    A few months after its launch in January 2006 as a station focusing on social and entertainment content, the channel's administration decided to turn it into a Sunni religious TV, a move that has attracted millions of viewers to the channel in Egypt and across the Arab world.

    The channel is owned by Saudi businessman Mansur Bin Kadasah and is managed by Atif Abd-al-Rashid.

    

Programmes

    The channel presents a variety of religious programmes focused on the precepts of Islam and the teaching of the Koran.

    The best known programmes are Fadfadah (Heart-to-Heart Talk), Sabah al-Iman (Morning of Faith), Duniyah wa Din (Life and Religion), Ma'a al-Nas (With the People) and Al-Tariq Ila al-Janna (The Way to Paradise). The channel also presents a programme called Bursat al-Iman (Market of Faith), in which Islamist-oriented economists discuss economic topics from an Islamic perspective.

    Phone-in programmes, such as Fatawa (Fatwas), are also carried on the channel to answer questions from viewers about religion, society, the economy and other topics. The duration of the programmes ranges between one and two hours.

    

Popular preachers

    Most of the preachers who appear on Al-Nas TV are well known on the Egyptian scene. They include Muhammad Hassan, Safwat Hijazi, Salim Abu-al-Futuh, Abu-Ishaq al-Huwayni, Muhammad Husayn Ya'qub and Mahmud al-Masri, who are known as hard-line Salafi shaykhs.

    Before joining the channel, most of these preachers used to give religious sermons at mosques which were attended by a large number of people.

    Their sermons are recorded on tapes and widely sold in kiosks and shops. But the launch of the channel has provided those preachers with a great opportunity to take their message to a greater number of viewers in Egypt and in the Arab and Islamic world.

    The preachers are observed to steer clear of politics. They focus instead on the teachings of Islam, how people should respect God through their deeds and relationships, and how they should prepare themselves for the afterlife.

    Some indirect reaction to developments in the Arab world can, however, be observed at the conclusion of their sermons, when they usually pray to God to protect and strengthen the Islamic nation and make it united, referring to the situations in the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Lebanon.

    The appearance of these widely-known preachers on the station has played a key role in attracting such a large number of viewers, who tend to trust those preachers, given that they are not affiliated to the government, and are not graduates of Al-Azhar, the official religious institution, seen as supporting government policies.

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