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The Muslim World League Forum and UNA discuss the role of religious leaders in combating hate speech through media platforms

Jeddah (UNA) - Media experts, thinkers and religious leaders discussed a number of issues related to violent discourses in the media and the role of religious institutions and leaders in confronting them.

This came during the International Forum: “The Media and its Role in Fueling Hatred and Violence (Dangers of Misinformation and Bias),” which was launched on Sunday (November 26, 2023) in the city of Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the patronage and in the presence of His Excellency the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, President of the Association of Muslim Scholars, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, and His Excellency the General Supervisor of Official Media in the State of Palestine, Minister Ahmed Assaf.

Holding the forum comes within the close partnership between the Assistant Secretariat for Institutional Communication in the Muslim World League and the Federation of News Agencies of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Countries, which represents an independent specialized body, within the framework of their common goals.

During the first session, which was held entitled “The Role of Religious Institutions and Leaders in Combating Hate Speech and Violence on Media Platforms,” Monsignor Khaled Okasha, Secretary of the Committee for Religious Relations with Muslims in the Vatican’s Interreligious Dialogue Department, indicated that this role assigned to religious leaders is represented in a number of matters, Among them is raising awareness of the importance of media platforms, creating opportunities for acquaintances, building friendships, and opening up cooperation for all that is good, which would banish the specter of tensions and clashes and establish the foundations of peace in a world torn by wars, in which narrow personal interests often prevail over the broad public good.

Okasha urged religious institutions to avoid in their media discourse any encouragement to practice hatred or violence, whether psychological, verbal or physical, in addition to prevention and education on the proper use of media platforms, including teaching children and young people to deal with difference in all its forms with the required respect.

In turn, the founding president of the Sadhguru Foundation and Ambassador of Peace to India, Sadhguru Swamiji, stressed the need for religious leaders of all religions to unite to contribute to combating hate speech and violence, noting the contributions of the Muslim World League in this regard, and what was included in the recent visit of its Secretary-General, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa. To India, an affirmation of ASEAN's commitment to promoting global solidarity and diversity.

Sadhguru warned of the dangers of hate speech on social peace, noting that this speech always represents a prelude to violent crimes.

Director of the Pakistan News Agency, Muhammad Asim Khishi, called on media institutions in Islamic countries to strengthen media responsibility, ethical journalism, and interfaith dialogue in order to reduce the risks of incitement to violence and hatred.

For his part, President of the Federation of Latin American News Agencies, Juan Manuel Fonrog, stressed that news agencies play an important role in promoting coexistence among peoples by disseminating news and information accurately and objectively.

He warned that after the achievements achieved by humanity in confronting the Covid-19 epidemic and its repercussions, it seems that the world has quickly forgotten these achievements, entering once again into a spiral of violence and unjustified intolerance.

Alamirat Arkayev, Head of the International Relations Department at the Turkmenistan State Committee for Television, Radio and Film Broadcasting, reviewed an aspect of Turkmenistan’s experience in promoting religious tolerance through and through the media.

Father Nabil Haddad, Executive Director of the Jordanian Center for Research on Religious Coexistence, said during his intervention that the extremism and spread of hate speech that most countries of the world are witnessing confirms the need for peacemakers to confront the forces that fan the flames of hatred and intolerance.

Haddad stressed that combating hatred is at the core of the work, practice, and life of a religious leader, calling on religious leaders to use their influence in a positive way given their responsibility to lead and direct public behavior.

In turn, Director General of the Jordan News Agency (Petra), Fayrouz Moubaideen, pointed out the existing need to find new professional rules, and controlling and morally binding ties with regard to violent and hate speech, especially on social media platforms.

For his part, the head of the Republic Agency for Press and Information in Tatarstan, Idar Sitgarevich, confirmed that the media is currently a driving force for strengthening interethnic relations and increasing the level of tolerance in society, pointing out that for this reason, media cooperation in modern conditions is in no way inferior to diplomacy. Countries.

Director General of the Senegalese News Agency, Thierno Ahmadou Sy, urged the media to exercise their right to report the truth of the facts, while avoiding falling into the trap of conscious or unconscious exploitation by subversive forces that seek to destroy the foundations on which life in our societies is based.

It is noteworthy that the forum witnessed the participation of a number of ministers, Islamic and international media leaders, and an elite group of ambassadors, religious, intellectual and legal figures, and leaders of international organizations.

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