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Last Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005, 22:02 GMT
Christian channel opens in Egypt
By Heba Saleh
BBC News, Cairo

Riots in Alexandria in Ooctober killed three
Three died in sectarian riots in Alexandria in October
The first Christian satellite television channel in Egypt began broadcasting on Monday.

Aghapy Television was established by the Coptic Christian church, the main church in Egypt.

Copts make up an estimated 10% of the Egyptian population and they complain of discrimination.

Three people died in Alexandria in October after Muslim demonstrators attacked a church which had put on a play seen as offensive to Islam.

Aghapy TV is the first ever television channel in Egypt to broadcast programmes with a purely Christian outlook.

The Coptic channel will carry church services, family programmes and documentaries about ancient monasteries.

But some here are worried that the presence of a Coptic channel may exacerbate the tensions between Muslims and Christians which periodically flare up into violence, says the BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo.

Restrictions

The bishop in charge of Aghapy TV says the channel will not carry anything that could upset Muslims.

The aim, he says, is to provide a link with the church to all those Copts who may not have access to a place of worship or who live abroad, but in the current volatile atmosphere many will be watching closely to see if the new channel gives offence in any way.

Last month three people were killed when Muslims tried to storm a church in Alexandria because a play had been performed there two years earlier which was deemed offensive to Islam.

Egyptian Christians complain of discrimination in employment and of restrictions on the construction of churches.

The violence in Alexandria prompted an unusually frank debate in the press, with many commentators accusing the government of ignoring the festering problems between the two communities.


SEE ALSO:
Three killed in Egypt church riot
22 Oct 05 |  Middle East
Faith and politics mix in Egypt vote
01 Sep 05 |  Middle East
Egyptian pope goes into seclusion
20 Dec 04 |  Middle East
'Conversion' sparks Copt protest
09 Dec 04 |  Middle East
The Islamic revival in Egypt
26 Sep 03 |  Have Your Say Special
Country profile: Egypt
21 Oct 04 |  Country profiles


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