CAIRO: With the aim of creating a website whose content is independent from funding, the creators of Islam Online launched the new website On Islam, Hisham Gaafar, the chairman of the board of trustees of MDA, a non-profit organization for media development, said.
“Our main objective was to launch a website where editorial work is independent from funding,” he stressed.
Former employees at Islam Online (IOL) had gone on strike last March against news of mass layoffs. Later in May, most of the staff decided to launch a new website together as an alternative media outlet with the same professional editorial policies and moderate vision of Islam.
“Some of the staff agreed to work on a voluntary basis while others accepted deducted salaries to minimize the cost of launching the new website,” explained Gaafar.
“This has facilitated the launch of On Islam until proper funding is secured, hopefully by the beginning of 2011.”
On Islam aims at becoming “a reference on Islam and Muslim-related issues for Muslims, new Muslims as well as interested non-Muslims.”
Furthermore, it seeks to review and renew contemporary Islamic discourses and help reach common grounds among people of different faiths and cultures.
The new website has a variety of sections which include, ‘News,’ with subsections about the current events in Africa, Americas, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Europe and Global.
There is also a ‘Sharia’ section where readers can ask a scholar, or read in-depth about the Hadith, Prophet Mohamed, Quran, Hajj and other contemporary issues.
But not all of the website’s content is Islamic, there is a ‘Health’ and ‘Science’ section covering health, nature, technology, science and a special subsection on ‘Faith and the Sciences.’
A ‘Politics’ section also discusses current global political issues, and a ‘Reading Islam’ section is aimed at helping non-Muslims and new Muslims understand the tenets and true message of Islam.
Other sections included are ‘Family,’ which covers a range of topics from multicultural marriage to providing stories for the children, and a ‘Culture and Entertainment’ section, which reviews movies and other cultural events.
“On Islam represents a distinguished media initiative that has a major significance on the international level taking into consideration the dramatic developments that followed the 9/11 attacks,” said Secretary General of MDA board of trustees, Wael Borhan, in a press statement.
“The world needs a media outlet that is capable of dealing professionally with such developments, presenting all sides of the story, a media able to offer in-depth analysis of global social, economic and religious issues from a neutral perspective governed by religious and human values,” he added.
Borhan believes On Islam will be able to play such a role thanks to its professional editorial team, experienced correspondents worldwide and a global network of contributors.
Islam Online is a popular Islamic resource website which has been up and running since 1999. After the strike, told the media that the strike was against the new management at Qatar’s Al-Balagh holding company imposing a more conservative tone on the website’s progressive approach to editorial content.
However, Mohamed Badr El-Sada, one of IOL’s founders and current board member of Al-Balagh, had previously told Daily News Egypt that the decision to terminate the contracts of employees at IOL’s office in Sixth of October City was part of a board decision to develop the website and not an attack on its progressive approach.