Russia to launch Muslim television channel
Russia will launch its first Muslim television channel in April, offering "spiritual and moral education," a spokeswoman for the Council of Muftis of Russia told AFP on Tuesday.
The channel, currently being tested, will "have a civilising aim and will contribute first of all to spiritual and moral education," said a spokeswoman for the council of Islamic leaders, Gulnur Gaziyeva.
The council, which represents Islam at an official level in Russia, is hiring presenters and deciding on content for the channel, some of which will be secular, Gaziyeva said.
The channel will be largely financed by private sponsors, Gaziyeva said, without specifying whether it will be available on free-to-view television,
According to the last published census results, Russia in 2002 had around 14.5 million Muslim residents, then making up 10 percent of the population, but mainstream television barely targets this audience.
In a token gesture, the state Rossiya channel airs a 10-minute weekly show called "Muslims." Financed by the Russian government, it focuses on apolitical discussions of Muslim traditions and culture.
Russia already has several Russian Orthodox channels, including Spas, or Saved, which was created in 2005 to "reinforce spiritual values" and broadcasts via satellite to Russia and former Soviet countries, according to its website.
President Dmitry Medvedev last week at a meeting with Russian Orthodox leaders stressed the need for dialogue between faiths to prevent the growth of nationalism and inter-ethnic conflicts.
© 2011 AFP