Islamonline going offline?

It’s been a surreal week for us at Islamonline.net, the world’s premier Muslim website.  The editorial office is based in Egypt, and headquarters are in Qatar.

On Monday 15 March, fears which had been brewing for over a month came to a boil. We were abruptly told, with no forewarning, that the Egypt office would be immediately closed.

It started in January, when the new executive board members of Al-Balagh Society, the holding company of Media International (which produces the websites Islamonline & others) sought to gain control of the editorial agenda planning.

They issued guidelines calling for more conservative, religious content, and wanted to remove the youth and arts sections. They objected to the coverage of Valentines Day-despite it being from an Islamic perspective.

They appointed someone of their choosing to preside over the new General Manager, after the General Manager at IOL resigned, due to heavy handedness by the board.  This man, Dr Atef Abdel Mughny, then appropriated control of the server, and transferred the Arabic youth site, 20at.com, to a smaller server.

There was talk of layoffs and restructuring. A letter was sent to them to explain what’s going on, but they didn’t respond to the concerns listed by employees. A letter was also sent to Sh Qaradawi, the chair of Al Balagh, to intervene.

On Monday, staff arranged a sit-in to protest against the lack of answers. They sent in the police, & said all employees who had signed the letter would be investigated. The server was then blocked, and we could not upload content. Then they announced Al Balagh would not be renewing its contract (hitherto unknown of by the staff) with Media International. All employees would be released. But they said if employees resign, they’d be compensated. Almost all 350 employees resigned.

But the next day they reneged on the deal offering adequate compensation.

The following day they started removing content. All of IOL Radio’s content has been removed, and certain material from other sections.

On Wednesday, an emergency board meeting was called by Sh Qaradawi. He revoked the decisions of the executive board members, who said they acted with the backing of the emir of Qatar. The emir denied involvement.

They were suspended, and an Acting Exec Board was appointed in the interim. Within two weeks, a General Assembly Meeting of Al Balagh will be held, & decisions put to a vote.

3 board members want the Egypt editorial office to remain, 3 want it moved to Qatar, and 3 are undecided.

We still don’t have access to the server, & the strike continues.

For more information, please see links below.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/mar/18/islamonline-strike-justified-qatar?showallcomments=true#end-of-comments

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/16/egypt-islam-online-crisis-workers-protest

http://bikyamasr.com/?p=10076

Please do support us with leeters of support, and comments on Bibi-Aisha’s op-ed.

We need your duas and visible online support through words.

Advertisements

Do you believe in finding a spouse online?

Muslim marriage websites have proliferated in recent years. No longer seen as a social stigma for those unable to find a marriage partner, these sites have become social networking sites and are viewed as perfectly acceptable in today’s times. Success stories can be found on each site, and it’s made to look very easy. But is it? Is putting one’s profile online in the hope that someone with similar interests will find one, a recipe for success. Does widening the net really reel in more fish? Can one click with a person one has never met, and if so, will that compatibility carry over in a real life meeting?

Often on matrimonial sites, the person’s profile is just as important as the picture. But yet, those who don’t make their pictures public, receive little or no response. And for those with great profiles, but whose pictures are deemed unattractive, the response rate is also far less. Does being online build, or destroy one’s self-image?

Is parental involvement important during the process?

We’d love to hear your answers to these questions, and more.

Email us iolradio@iolteam.com

Let us know your views, and please remember to include your telephone details so we can call you to participate!