Veiled Egyptian satellite TV channel stirs controversy

Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 23-05-2012

A new satellite television station, Marya TV, is sparking debate in Egypt due to its "exclusively female" policy, managed and featuring women in full veil or niqab.
The channel's owner, the ultra conservative male Salafi Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmad Abd Allah, will play a "consultative" role due to his "media and scholastic expertise", said Marya's general manager Sheikha Safaa. Other than his participation, men will not be permitted to interfere in the network's editorial policies or content, she told Egyptian media.
Although Sheikha Safaa reportedly hopes the channel will help lift injustice on veiled women who suffer marginalisation, criticism has come from many corners.
Egyptian actress Athar Al Hakim told women's magazine Majalatouki: "I have the right to know who is talking to me on the television screen.
"The issue of niqab is a national security one and it is unacceptable in Egyptian society despite the religious diversity."
According to Al Arabiya, the channel's owner clashed with Egyptian writer Nabil Sharf Eddine during a discussion on Dream TV on 17 May.
Sharf Eddine described the Sheikh's Marya TV as "a channel of the accursed Satan."
The Sheikh responded, calling him "uncivilized."