Volunteering for Peace and in partnership with Lebanese Interfaith Initiative/Lebanon, Tolerance CC/Egypt, Jordan Association for widows and orphans and other potential and with Generous support from URI MENA AWARD 2009 is glad to report its 3 days conference which took place in Amman Jordan on 21-23 December 2009 under the theme “Toward An Interfaith Media Culture” at Sheppard Hotel.
The meeting was based on a special system which requested from every participant to present a paper related to the relation between media and interfaith in the countries they represent in the MENA region.
There were 25 participants in the program representing youth in the MENA region from (Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Algeria and Morocco).
The project already meet directly with its objective that it was designed for as follow:
1. The project already trained MENA youth and Journalists on objective media coverage in conflict zones and it developed personal and technical skills of covering intercultural dialogue and interfaith activities and human rights by being able to hear from the experience in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt from the papers presented by the participants and the discussion generated afterwards.
2. Every participant already presented a paper about the topic by a live example from the country they come from as this was a prerequisite and this was a direct lesson in writing reports and papers about the interfaith challenges, prospects, and initiatives in MENA region.
3. The Project already established an online network over facebook in the same title of the project “Towards an interfaith media Culture” which is included at the MENA Network for Intercultural Dialogue as well as Volunteering for Peace web Blog. The website include a reportage of the papers presented in the conference and video recording of the program, you can check the facebook group and our websitehttp://vfpeace.blogspot.com/
4. The 3 days program was also a good chance to introduce URI PPPs and promote URI Preamble, Purpose and Principles, we were able to discuss about URI MENA future plans
5. The participants already recommended to have this meeting as an annual program and spread the experience to other youth in the region
The 3 days workshop include the following activities:
First day 21 Dec 2009: Opening ceremony of the Conference, followed by presentations about the relation between Media and interfaith. A discussion was generated about the topic and how does every person look to the relation between media and interfaith. The participants generated a very interesting discussion about the topic and it was very productive. The participants outlines their definition to interfaith and media and how does the relation between both of them can be described in their countries.
Second day 22 Dec 2009: Presentation from the participants, which include a presentation of the papers prepared by the participants followed by a discussion about every paper from the participants. The participants also enjoyed watching together in the evening a film about interfaith and media in Egypt as well as another film about interfaith in Iraqi media. The Jordanian experience also was presented by Amman Message and Kind Abdallah Initiative. The Palestinian interfaith relation were presented by a documentary speaking about this relations. The Lebanese experience were presented by a paper about the relation between the 18 faith groups in Lebanon. There was an interesting visit to URI MENA regional office in Amman and a meeting with URI office manager and knowing more about URI activities in MENA region.
Third day 23 Dec 2009: Closing ceremony inwhich the participants presented their recommendations as well as future cooperation plans. The participants recommended to make the program an annual program and to invite other youth to take part in it. The full list of recommendations can be seen in the Volunteering for Peace website.
The participants then went in a study trip to the baptism place in the Jordan river and the dead sea to be able to learn more about the interfaith life in the baptism site in Jordan followed by an interesting discussion between the participants.
Recommendations and Lessons Learnt
· The topic is interesting and it is worth to be discussed more especially in the MENA region were interfaith is not handled in a good way in the media
· The youth in the region are rich of information and ideas on developing the interfaith media culture
· There should be more attention on awareness about other religions in the local media
· The media should respect the receiver
· Youth should have more chances to be represented in the local media
· There should be monitoring over the local media
· Youth should have their own Radio and TV in MENA region (MENA Youth Radio and TV)