Egypt's new women-only Islamic TV channel

On Saturday, as Ramadan began, a new Egyptian satellite television channel was launched, catering to and run by women. Maria TV is an all-woman Islamic channel -- the first of its kind -- in which women work the cameras, determine content, and appear as presenters and actresses, providing programming directed at a female audience.  No men will be featured in any of Maria's programming.

Shows on Maria TV will include daily news, talk-show-style programs on topics such as the first year of marriage and make up tips, as well as investigative reports on subjects like women who cheat on their husbands.  There will also be a satirical news show starring a female puppet.

Female preacher El-Sheikha Safaa Refai will head the programming. The channel is the newest creation of Ahmed Abdallah, a Cario-based producer of Islamic television, who is also the founder of Ummah TV, a religious satellite station targeting Muslim audiences throughout the Middle East. 

Hosni Mubarak's regime had targeted several security raids against Ummah TV , but since Mubarak's fall, Egyptian media has seen some relaxation of restrictions. Earlier in the summer, Egyptian broadcasting also began featuring its first political humorist and satirist, Bassem Yousef, on the air.

Maria TV, which will for now consist of six hours of programming on Ummah TV, will show only fully veiled women. Guests who choose not to wear the Niqab will have their features blurred out.

AMR NABIL/AFP/Getty Images


Olympics website endorses Greater Russia

RFE/RL catches a boo-boo on the London Olympics website's listings for some members of the Russian team:

The entry for judo fighter Arsen Galstyan lists his place and date of birth as "Armenia (RUS)" in 1989, while boxer David Ayrapetyan is listed as having been born in "Baku (RUS)" six years earlier.

Kazakhstan and Tajikistan were Soviet republics back when boxer Sergei Vodopiyanov and wrestler Khasan Baroev were born in the 1980s. But the now independent countries might be surprised to see the birthplaces of these athletes listed as "Kazakhstan Region (RUS)" and "Dushanbe (RUS)."

But perhaps the most contentious entries are for two wrestlers from the Caucasus. Denis Tsargush, the site says, hails from "Gudauta (RUS)" -- a city in Abkhazia, the Georgian breakaway republic that Russia and a handful of other nations recognize as independent. And Besik Kudukhov was born in "Yuzhnaya Osetia (RUS)" -- that's Georgia's other breakaway republic, South Ossetia, that Moscow also recognized as an independent state after a brief war with Georgia in 2008.

It seems like a simple "SOV" designation could solve the problem.