Witness – Pop Goes Islam
In 2009, Egyptian entrepreneur Ahmed Abu Haiba launched the world’s first-ever Islamic music channel. Based in Cairo, 4Shbab branded itself as "Islam’s Own MTV". In its first few months on air, the channel shocked thousands of viewers and enthralled thousands more.Abu Haiba set up the 4Shbab to provide an alternative to what he saw as the sinful nature of most music videos being broadcast to viewers in Egypt, across North Africa and the Middle East; to give Muslim youth genuine television entertainment without compromising Islamic values.The launch money, and a substantial part of ongoing funding, came from Saudi backers. But after an initial strong start, a backlash set in. Despite winning awards, Abu Haiba increasingly had to defend his channel and its programmes against claims that it was "unIslamic".The Saudi backers cut their funding; his staff were unhappy about whose vision they were working to. And veiled model Yasmine Mohsen found that her attempts to launch a presenting career at 4Shbab fell in the face of conservative viewers who saw no place for women on television.