Muslims inside and outside Western New York are aggressively campaigning for Adelphia Communications to include an Islamic lifestyle network based in Orchard Park as part of the company's regular digital cable lineup.
Some Muslims, through e-mail to the cable provider, are accusing Adelphia of discrimination and censorship of Islam. Others have threatened to cancel their cable subscriptions if Bridges TV is not included in the regular package.
Currently, subscribers in Erie and Niagara counties can receive Bridges, but they must pay an additional $14.99 per month because the network is considered a "premium-pay" channel.
About 30 of Adelphia's 300,000 customers in the two counties pay the fee.
An Adelphia spokesman said the company was not discriminating against Muslims. Adelphia agreed in 2005 to carry Bridges TV after receiving assurances of new customers from the network, said the spokesman, Thomas M. Haywood.
So far, those customers have not materialized: Only 34 subscribers signed up for the premium-pay channel, he said.
"It's not that we're not carrying it. We are," Haywood said. "There's no discrimination whatsoever. We launched it as a pay service because the customers that wanted it would pay for it."
Bridges TV's chief executive officer, Muzzammil S. Hassan, said that the network has not had a choice in the matter.
"Six months ago, we said, "We accepted your recommendation, but this is not working,' " Hassan said. "We told them the pay model will not work. This belongs on basic cable."
Three cable companies with markets in Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio recently began carrying the network as part of their digital cable packages.
Hamburg cable subscriber Samira Khatib, who is Muslim, sent several e-mail messages to Adelphia requesting that Bridges TV be added to her regular cable.
Khatib had been paying the $14.99 per month but stopped because she considers it unfair, she said.
Adelphia could replace at least one of its "indecent" channels with a "very moral channel like Bridges TV," Khatib said.
Haywood said the company was still examining whether to add Bridges to its digital cable package. "If it makes economic sense, we'll do it. If it doesn't, we won't," he said.
The company received 106 e-mail complaints about the premium service fee for Bridges TV, Haywood said.
Some of the e-mail accuses Adelphia of "Islamaphobia."
But only 10 of the complaints came from current customers and only 19 of them were from Western New York, he said.
An e-mail message from Imam Abdullah El-Amin of the Muslim Center in Detroit has been encouraging Muslims to send complaints to Adelphia. In it, El-Amin calls upon fellow Muslims to "demand Bridges TV on basic cable without the $180 Anti-Islamic Fee."
Muslims were hoping to persuade Adelphia by May 15, when Bridges is scheduled to air a "town hall meeting" with two representatives from the FBI who fielded questions at the network's Orchard Park studios in April.
Hassan and other Muslims said that it would cost Adelphia next to nothing to add Bridges TV to its digital lineup.
Haywood disputed that, saying the company incurs a variety of expenses any time it changes channels around, including printing costs for its cable guides and for the digital boxes.
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There are no greater heroes and role models in PA society than terrorists. Summer camps for children have been named for Wafa Idris and Ayyat Al Achras - woman suicide terrorists. Sporting events are routinely named for terrorists, including a soccer match for 14-year-olds named after the terrorist who killed 31 Israelis four years ago at a Passover Seder in Netanya. The PA Ministry of Culture recently produced a poetry collection named after Hanadi Jaradat, the woman terrorist who killed 21 in a Haifa restaurant.
And just last month, the PA announced it was granting honorary citizenship to Lebanese terrorist Samir Quntar, who is serving a life sentence in an Israeli jail. Smadar Haran, wife and mother of Quntar's murder victims, wrote in The Washington Post:
"It was a murder of unimaginable cruelty. The terrorists took (husband) Danny and (daughter) Einat down to the beach. One of them shot Danny in front of Einat. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Quntar."
Not all of Lewis’s views have been accepted. How democracy is implemented is critical to him: unlike much of the Administration, he believes that free elections should be the culmination of the reform process, rather than the starting point (as shown by the ballots in Egypt and Palestine that have strengthened anti-democratic Islamists). Democracy, he contends, needs to be introduced “like an antibiotic — drip-drip, or else it kills the patient”.
But as he enters his tenth decade, Lewis is most alarmed not by the Arab world — where he detects signs of hope — but by what is happening in the EU and specifically in his native land. “The very composition of society is at stake,” he warned me. “The rate of immigration from parts of the Muslim world is altering the way in which society is run. And the Muslim populations of the EU, many of whom started out as quite moderate in their native lands, seem to be indoctrinated by some of the worst elements of their own co-religionists. Central to this is the oil money of Saudi Arabia, funding extreme Wahhabite doctrines