The new TV channel is expected to clear misconceptions about Islam

NEW YORK, May 7 ( & News Agencies) – In a bid to clear stereotypes about Islam and build bridges of friendship between American Muslims and mainstream America, Muslim businessmen huddled together to launch the first English-language Muslim television channel in North America, hoping that it would come to light by 2004 summer.

The fledgling channel, to be named Bridges TV, is expected to cover news, sports, advice shows, children’s programming and movies geared to American Muslims, said Muzzammil Hassan, an upstate New York banker who started the company on the brainchild of his wife, Aasiya.

Hassan, along with Bridges Network Inc. president Omar Amanat, has raised $1 million in seed money for the project, reported Swissinfo news online quoting Reuters news agency.

“I realized that the only way to undo misconceptions was to create our own media forum from which our stories and culture would be shared with the world,” said Amanat.

“Our channel is in English and about life in America,” said Hassan, noting that many of the 7 million Muslims in the United States and 1 million in Canada pay premiums for foreign televisions such as Al-Jazeera, ART, PTV and Zee TV.

“Those stations are popular among immigrant parents, but not to their U.S.-born children,” he said.

Hassan said Bridges needed 10,000 paying members to get the “green light” from cable and satellite networks to put the new channel on air.

Some 1,500 households have voiced their support for Bridges TV and are set to pay $10 a month, hoping that it would help convince cable operators that it was commercially viable.