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Malawi Muslims on Friday celebrated the start of the holy month of Ramadan with the launch of the nation’s first-ever Islamic television channel, TV Islam (TVI).
The channel, which went on air at 2.00 p.m. CAT (1200GMT) after Jumu’ah (Friday) prayers, gives Muslims in the southeastern African nation an opportunity to watch Islam prayers and Islamic religious programs for free on a local channel.
"The station is important as it is the first of its kind in the country. It will work as a bridge to a number of Islamic historical, economic, cultural and social issues,” Abdullah Omar Mdala, head of the station said.
Operating under the motto "Truth Shall Prevail,” TV Islam will carry messages of hope and programs on topics such as Islam, democracy, health, among others.
In the past, Muslims in Malawi had to access foreign Islamic TV channels on pay television. Islam is the nation’s second-largest religion, with believers of over 30 percent of the 17 million population.
Mdala expects 30 percent viewership from Muslims and 20 percent from non-Muslims.
Gideon Munthali, director of information at the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, said the government is pleased with TVI’s entry into the broadcasting industry.
"The launch on TVI confirms the conducive environment that has been created to foster development of the media industry and enjoyment of the people's right to access information.”
"We believe the coming of this new TV station will assist in the important task of spreading the message of love and unity among all Malawians,” said Munthali.
Muslims in the country seem glad to have the channel.
"We welcome this channel as in the past we were forced to watch other channels that do not share our values,” said Hastings Maponya, a Blantyre-based Muslim who has been watching the channel's test feed for the past week.