Egypt's al-Azhar wants tv channel for fatwas

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CAIRO, Sep 28 (Reuters) The head of Egypt's Islamic al-Azhar University wants to set up a satellite television channel to broadcast Islamic legal rulings to try to end ''fatwa chaos'', state media reported today.

The state news agency MENA quoted al-Azhar President Ahmed al-Tayeb as calling for ''a special al-Azhar satellite channel entrusted to true scholars who do not desire fame or money and who will be guardians over the science of issuing fatwas and presenting Islamic issues''.

MENA said Tayeb wanted the channel to combat what he described as ''fatwa chaos'' proliferating on other satellite channels and which he said harmed Islam and spread confusion in society.

State-run al-Azhar, Egypt's most prominent institute of Islamic learning, wants to ensure that there is only one authority for issuing fatwas, or Islamic legal rulings, in coordination with al-Azhar, the agency said.

Earlier his year, al-Azhar suspended a lecturer who sparked controversy with a suggestion that male and female work colleagues use symbolic breastfeeding to get around a religious ban on being alone together.

He drew on Islamic traditions forbidding sexual relations between a man and a woman who has breastfed him to suggest that symbolic breastfeeding could be a way around strict gender segregation.

The lecturer's opinion was widely reported by Arabic-language satellite television channels and was discussed in parliament, but a committee from al-Azhar said his proposal contradicted the principles of Islam and morality.

Reuters SS DB1952

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