Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obama out on a limb in Cairo

WASHINGTON – As political tightropes go, President Barack Obama is about to walk a precarious line tomorrow in a high-stakes speech aimed at closing the chasm with Islam.
But as the young American leader approaches the dais in Cairo for what many hope will be a milestone of cultural outreach, Obama can take solace in signals from prominent Muslim leaders determined to meet him in the moderate middle.

Officials with Cairo's ancient Al-Azhar University, widely regarded as one of the world's great fonts of Muslim thought, this week announced the launch of a new satellite channel to reclaim what they regard as the authoritative Islam – a pluralistic, tolerant religion committed to a peaceful planet.
The Al-Azhari channel is to go to air in mid-August for the start of the holy month of Ramadan with a 24-hour-a-day blend of education and entertainment that aspires to meet the bridge-building challenge "for the Obama era," says the project's main benefactor.

"We've been talking about it for a few years. But with Obama taking the initiative and going so far to calm tensions, this is the moment to reciprocate," said Hassan Tatanaki, a Libyan oil executive and philanthropist who seeded the station with an initial infusion of $2.9 million.

Getting senior scholars at Al-Azhar on board, Tatanaki said, was the crucial step in bringing the idea to reality. While Islam has no formal hierarchy with which to render religious ruling – Al-Azhar, founded in 975 – stands as the foremost centre of Sunni Muslim learning. read more

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Satellite Channel to Challenge 'Islamic Extremism'

islam A new free-to-air satellite television channel based in Egypt will promote moderate Islam and challenge notions of extremism when it launches in August, according  to its founders, which include Muslim clerics associated with Egypt’s Al-Azhar University.

Sheikh Khaled el-Guindy, a member of Egypt's Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and a driving force behind the "Azhari" channel, told the Associated Press the channel would leverage the talents of Al-Azhar graduates to combat incorrect interpretations of the religion.

"Azhari will promote the idea that Islam is a religion of moderation free from extremism," he said.

"Several satellite channels right now promote a strict interpretation of Islam and issue incorrect religious opinions that fill young people with extremist ideas.

New channel for moderate Islam to be launched

Al-Azhar announces launch of new satellite channel to challenge extremist distortions of Islam.
Middle East Online
By Paul Schemm - CAIRO
Azhari is set to be launched in mid-August
A group of Muslim clerics connected with Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar University have announced the creation of a new satellite channel to propagate moderate Islam and challenge what it describes as extremist distortions of the religion.

The announcement comes just ahead of President Barack Obama's address Thursday to the Muslim world from Cairo in a speech co-sponsored by Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's premier educational institution.

Sheik Khaled el-Guindy, a member of Egypt's Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and a driving force behind the "Azhari" channel, said the idea is to use the knowledge and skills of Al-Azhar graduates to combat ignorant interpretations of the religion.

"Azhari will promote the idea that Islam is a religion of moderation free from extremism," he told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "Several satellite channels right now promote a strict interpretation of Islam and issue incorrect religious opinions that fill young people with extremist ideas."

There are dozens of Islamic satellite channels in the Middle East, with many receiving funding from the conservative oil-rich Gulf and propagating a very conservative form of the religion.

"Audiences need people that deal in reality and respect reality and respect changes in the world. These channels don't present these things. Some of these channels are just ignorant of reality," said el-Guindy, explaining that graduates of al-Azhar university are well grounded in subjects outside of religion as well.

Azhari is set to be launched in mid-August, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and will present a mix of entertainment and educational programing, including children's cartoons, soap operas and call-in shows.

The channel will initially be broadcast in English and Arabic, with plans to expand it to Turkish and Hindi, and will be viewable from Europe to Southeast Asia.

"The idea is to really show moderate Islam, not this extreme one that is being utilized by others," said Hassan Tatanaki, a Libyan businessman who helped provide the channel's $2.7 million in initial funding. "Our aim is to be able to reach not only the Arab Muslims, but the non-Arab Muslims, mainly in the Far East, the Near East, places like the US and Europe."

Libya Awalan TV joins CNN’s global affiliate network

CNN International has announced that Libya Awalan TV (which translates as ‘Libya First’) is to join its global network of affiliates. The partnership is the first with a private network in Libya and adds to CNN’s global presence, as well as its strength in North Africa.

Libya Awalan TV was founded in March 2011, shortly after the conflict in Libya began, and made its inaugural broadcast a few weeks later on 1 April. It employs more than 200 people and has control rooms in Tripoli and Benghazi, as well as in Cairo. During the Libya conflict, Awalan’s reporters brought detailed reports from across the country, and the station continues to report on Libya’s ongoing recovery in five daily news bulletins and across breaking news.

Deborah Rayner, VP and managing editor at CNN International, said: “Libya Awalan’s bravery and commitment to independent journalism during the conflict in Libya was an example to any news network, and their ongoing commitment to serious reporting is there for all to see. They will be valuable partners to CNN International and we’re delighted to be welcoming them to our affiliate family.”
Hassan Tatanaki, founder and chairman of Libya Awalan TV, added: “CNN is the original 24-hour news channel and a network that continues to set the standard in global news. It has a long-standing presence in and passion for our region, so to become part of its affiliate network is a proud moment for us as a young channel. We hope we can make a strong contribution to CNN’s reporting in a new and free Libya and beyond.”

Libya Awalan has recently covered a range of stories in Libya, from tribal clashes in the deserts of Kufra, to illegal immigration, student demonstrations in Benghazi, and the children returning to school in Zawiya. It regularly interviews Transitional National Council ministers and officials from the transitional government. Its programming includes news, political, social, and health reports, as well as sports coverage.


Exclusive- Another Libyan Club Chases Kotoko Striker Seidu Bancey

By Saddick Adams

Ghana league top scorer Asante Kotoko could be on his way out the club at the end of the season after top Libyan outfit Al Ahli SC of Benghazi offered a mouth-watering offer for the hitman, can exclusively reveal.

The striker's contract, understands has a year left and the Asante Kotoko chiefs are quietly confident of him signing a new deal but the offer will obviously deril their plans.
Bancey has been watched by the Benghazi-based side for months and they lodged a fresh inquiry this week, according to reports.

Al Ahli Benghazi, owned by Libyan Billionaire business mogul and philantrophist Hassan Tatanaki have made the ex Edubiase marksaman their first-choice target to strengthen their attack at the resumption of the Libyan league.

The Ghanaian giants have just crashed out of the Champions League to Liberian club Barrack Young Controllers in just the first qualification round and things doesnt seem well financiakky for the club as striker Yahaya Mohammed shockingly signed for Libyan side Al Ittihad Tripoli.
Seidu Bancey tops the First Capital Plus Bank Ghana Premier League with 7 goals in 10 matches.

Venture Capital Bank Acquires Stake in Major Oil Drilling Company

MANAMA, Bahrain, November 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Venture Capital Bank (VC
 Bank), a Bahrain-based investment bank, along with its partner, the US
 private equity firm Global Emerging markets (GEM), have acquired a
 significant stake in the MENA-based oil drilling contractor Challenger
 Limited. Established in 1991, Challenger currently owns and operates a
 fleet of 22 rigs in Libya providing drilling and work-over services of oil,
 gas and water wells, with offices in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
 The acquisition was co-funded by VC Bank and its strategic technical
 partner GEM illustrating VCBank's non-conventional pursuit to attract North
 American and European funds and sources of capital to investment
 opportunities in the MENA region. This significant transaction was
 completed by a team from VC Bank and GEM, not only strengthening the
 successful partnership between the two firms, but demonstrating that the
 region hosts many attractive, yet obscured, investment opportunities
 represented in privately held companies such as Challenger that operates
 mainly in Libya. 
 The conclusion of this transaction by VCBank depicts the dimensions of
 the Bank's mandate to secure unique and attractive deals in the region for
 its investors and at the same time provide expansion and financing
 solutions to the regional small-to-medium enterprises in order to fulfill
 their untapped potential. Thus, the investment made in Challenger is
 mutually beneficial to both parties, allowing Challenger to achieve its
 growth plan and helping VC Bank to achieve its objectives of supporting
 regional companies and contributing towards the economies of the MENA

$25b needed to boost crude output

Tripoli: Libya's oil industry will need at least $25 billion (Dh91.8 billion) in investment to increase its oil production to two million barrels a day, said the chairman of drilling-rig operator Challenger Ltd.
"Fields need to be developed, others redeveloped," Hassan Tatanaki said in a telephone interview on Friday. "The Libyan oil industry needs a lot of revamping. We have to reinvest to be able to get the proper cost effective amount into the industry in terms of the country's production level."
The armed conflict in Libya, holder of Africa's largest proven reserves, has reduced the nation's output to 100,000 barrels a day in July from the 1.6 million barrels pumped before the uprising started in February. A full recovery of production may take as long as three years, according to analysts' estimates.
Tatanaki, 53, said he intends to play a role in rebuilding Libya's oil industry, of which Challenger's 35 rigs across the country "are the core".
His Libya Al Hurra charity, set up shortly after the unrest began, has been providing humanitarian aid and relief to refugees and those displaced by the conflict in Libya operating out of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and the US.
"We're not just concentrating on just medical and food supplies," Tatanaki said. "We also want to play a part in other ways so that in the next year or so we have a proper constitution, transparency that helps create a democracy."
Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi continued to battle revolutionaries in the Libyan capital Tripoli, as the opposition National Transitional Council said the North African nation's humanitarian aid needs are "urgent".
Rebel leaders worked to retrieve assets frozen by the United Nations and individual countries in an effort to obtain funding for food, and humanitarian and medical needs, transitional council Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil said at a press conference in Benghazi on Friday.
Since fighting began in Libya, the number of people killed has "exceeded 20,000", Abdul Jalil said.
Refinery to restart
A refinery official says a major rebel-held refinery near Tripoli shut down since Libya's rebellion flared will soon start up again, which should ease fuel shortages that have sent prices spiralling.
Mohammad Aziz, a long-time operations manager at the Zawiya refinery, says, "After tomorrow, it will be operational."
He says the refinery will start processing stored crude first, and hopes to begin receiving new supplies from the south in two days.
Anti-regime revolutionaries control much of Tripoli and have secured the road from the capital to Zawiya on Libya's coast.
In Tripoli in recent days, the cost of a 20-litre can of petrol has leapt to about 120 dinars (Dh360), some 28 times the price before fighting broke out months ago.