MuslimChannels.tv Launched Muslim Version of YouTube
While cable and dish services are swamped with religious channels, Muslims in the United States have unequal opportunities for access. This is not due to any economic, content quality, or viewership concerns, but rather because of the politics of fear and media monopoly. MuslimChannels addresses this challenge with a unique approach, by offering the best of both the worlds: Multiple live 24 x 7 broadcasts of religious, alternative news, and educational programming, as well as user video uploads, video sharing and formation of online communities.
MuslimChannels believes the time has come to break the large corporate media monopoly by featuring several alternative news broadcasts and shows such as Al Jazeera English, LinkTV, Press TV, and DemocracyNow. Religious programming will initially include two 24 x 7 live channels, featuring Huda TV and IslamChannels.
MuslimChannels.tv aims to educate non-Muslims about Islam and provide an Internet site for Muslims to view videos without worrying about anti-Islamic tirades or sexually explicit content, said Tarek Ayoub, a volunteer for the site and for the site's nonprofit founder, Islam The Answer Corp.
"It's a way for Muslim users to feel safe," Ayoub said.
The site also includes non-religious programming, such as comedy, travel, sports and cultural videos, along with documentaries containing trenchant political commentary on subjects such as the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. The volunteer-run site will not accept advertising or donations, to avoid compromising its mission, Ayoub said.
Larry Slusser, secretary of the Southwest Riverside County Interfaith Council and a Mormon, praised the idea of setting up the site.
"I think it's great anytime someone can dispel misconceptions and promote understanding of and appreciation for a faith," said Slusser, who has not visited the site. "As a Latter-day Saint, I know many people have misperceptions about my faith. There's enough hatred in the world. We need more understanding of our differences."
“As a Muslim, I was very proud and excited when I first learned about this site. I have to say it is one of the best sites I have come across. Not only the videos are excellent, but once I went to the site, the live broadcast channels attracted my eyes. I believe a lot of Muslims have had enough with violent death threats on youtube.”, said sister Madina, now an active user on the site. Ayoub said the site was founded in part because he and other Muslims grew weary of seeing viciously anti-Muslim comments that YouTube users posted as reactions to Islamic-oriented videos. Some YouTube users e-mailed Muslim video-posters and threatened them with violence -- in some cases with warnings such as "We know your address" -- or made sexually demeaning comments toward Muslim women, Ayoub said.
Ayoub said he and others have met with FBI agents about the threats.
Muslims need to ensure that misrepresentations of Islam do not go unanswered, and that the responses are reasoned and factual rather than angry, said Ramshaw, who developed "Golden Rules for Muslim Bloggers."
MuslimChannels.tv is not only a way of allowing non-Muslims to quickly access factual information about Islam to counter misperceptions, said Muhamad Ali, an assistant professor of religious studies at UC Riverside who specializes in contemporary Islam. The site's features that allow video-sharing, online forum discussions and other interaction help unite US Muslims, he said.
"It provides a better sense of community, of being an American Muslim, rather than a Pakistani Muslim, an Egyptian Muslim, a Palestinian Muslim.