Media practitioners must fight against hate speech, says former Jordanian minister

Amman - The 'Media Against Hate' conference aims to create an Arab media trend that believes in the humanitarian responsibility of media


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Mon 27 Sep 2021, 4:23 PM

The Muslim Council of Elders have asked media practitioners in the Arab region to convey messages of peace, love and tolerance and to spearhead the fight against hate speech and discrimination.

The 'Media Against Hate' conference, which was organised by the Muslim Council of Elders, was held today, September 27, in Amman, Jordan.

The two-day conference aims at creating an Arab media trend that believes in the humanitarian responsibility of media and its role in fighting hate, extremism and discrimination towards others.

In his keynote speech, Dr Mohammad Al Momani, former Minister of State for Media Affairs in Jordan, said there is a need to confront the problem of hate speech, which has invaded the media and communication spaces in the region, sowing discord and sedition under the pretext of freedom of expression.

“Freedom of speech or expression can’t be expressed in that manner. This is rather an emergency of spreading hate speeches, an epidemic sweeping our societies,” Al Momani said.

The former Jordanian minister explained that the current media, which uses new technologies and social media platforms, is facing three main challenges. These include the spread of hate speech, the broadcast of false and fake news and the violation of privacy by some non-professional media practitioners.

“Freedom of speech and the right for expression do not mean in any way the use of hate speech and exclusion, or targeting and ostracising others, as these are alien to our values,” he said.

“Hate speech is against our societies, and it is certainly against the values ​​and principles of the true Islamic religion, which calls for tolerance, brotherhood, support for the weak and honesty in words and actions.”

He noted that Muslims have had an internal fight with some minority Muslims who have spread hate speech.

“These groups had tarnished the name of Islam through their hate speeches. Their words and statements are not a representation of Islam or Muslims. Islam is about love and tolerance and not divisionism,” he said.

Need for balanced media content

Dr Sultan Al Rumaithi, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Elders, said the media must produce a fair and balanced discourse that works to change the prevailing negative patterns and defuse hatred with the resulting crises.

“There is also a need to open the doors of rational and permanent dialogue as the best way to confront the rhetoric of discrimination and hatred ... a dialogue that we hope will restore the media to its pure essence ... and send through their platforms noble humanitarian messages that are not political, partisan or sectarian,” said Al Rumaithi.

While he said Arab media organisations display good journalistic practices and publish stories that favour issues of coexistence and reject hatred, Al Rumaithi said there is room for more progress.

“(Progress can be made) by providing the necessary resources and additional training for journalists and media institutions in order to raise the standards of broadcasting and publishing on issues related to migration, refugees and asylum seekers, religion, ethnicity, and marginalised groups in general,” said Al Rumaithi.

The organisation of the conference, which has attracted a group of prominent Arab media professionals, began through the Arab Media Gathering and the launch of the 20th Code of Media Action for Brotherhood Humanity on February 4, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

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