Media’s Responses to Interfaith Tensions

23 February 2016, 1:07 PM
group photo

On 21st January, we, the three members of A Better Community for All Pakistan Cooperation Circle; Mrs. Elishba Yuel Bhatti, Women Coordinator; Mrs. Sehar Akram; Communication Desk; and Mrs. Summera Isfar; have attended a workshop organized by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) along with Sr. Sabina Rifat, Coordinator, Women Wing, URI Pakistan at Sunfort Hotel, Lahore, regarding the media’s role in our interfaith tensions. 

There were 20 – 25 participants in the workshop representing different news channels, organizations, and NGOs. The media is presenting equally positive and negative role in various aspects regarding all social, emotional, psychological, religious, and global issues. Over the past decade the world has been faced with some of the greatest challenges to remove distrust and misunderstanding between religions, civilizations and cultures.

They have highlighted following areas:

  1. Media’s responses to interfaith tensions (with specific examples).
  2. What are the safeguards in place? (Self-policing and external checks)
  3. Specific challenges in coverage of interfaith tensions.
  4. Media’s perception of its role in interfaith issues
  5. Available space in media for highlighting issues of importance to minority communities.
  6. Strategies for developing appropriate responses to promote interfaith harmony:
  • Breaking down barriers between different faith communities
  • Countering myths and stereotypes regarding interfaith tensions
  • Training of media professionals
  • Representation of minority groups in mainstream media and media bodies

We have discussed all these issues in a group with a confidence that freedom is for everyone. Different aspects come up front by this discussion such as:

Issues

  1. Lack of communication, awareness about the issues, and misunderstandings lead the people to wrong direction.
  2. The media is biased because of rating issues among the channels.
  3. People are not willing to acknowledge the facts and responsibilities and always try to impose the things on others.
  4. The curriculum is too old to deal with our current issues and affairs
  5. There are so many political parties, agencies, ethnic groups, racism, and biased approach about the facts.
  6. Leaders are not willing to highlight the actual grounds and try to hide the things instead of bringing it up front.
  7. Working people are reserved in their boundaries and they are unable to report the actual facts and to highlight the sensitive issues.
  8. Media is basically manipulating people according to their personal interest.
  9. Media people are not free in their reporting in our country and journalists are afraid to bring the facts in their actual form.
  10. The education system is not focusing on the implementation of knowledge that how to apply the knowledge in a proper field.
  11. We are narrow – minded people and are under the influence of our typical societal norms, rules, and regulations.
  12. There is no space, acceptance, and empathy in our system for minorities to come on a platform and speak for their rights.

After discussing all these issues then we move on the solution like what kind of strategies are important to resolve these things. 

Strategies

Unconditioned positive regard, space, acceptance of equal rights for minorities as well.

We have to participate in non – religious events (Christmas, Deewali, Easter, Holi) as said by our president Mian Nawaz Sharif.

“Tum hamain rang lagao hum tumhain rang lagain”

Instead of highlighting sensitive issues in a negative way, we have to report the information in a honest way.

People should consult Lawyers to get information through a proper channel for their rights instead of asking from others.

The need to change our curriculum and applicability of knowledge is necessary through practical activities. Media’s role is to aware people about facts and to print authentic news. We have to change our attitude of criticism because criticism is easy but counter discussion and confession is difficult. Stop exploiting negative issues about minorities or to high light things in a biased way. Our focus should be on humanitarian grounds instead of color, cast, and religion:

Equal rights for everyone. And peace for everyone.                                         

Report Compiled by:

Mrs. Elishba Yuel Bhatti, Women Coordinator - ABC4ALL Pakistan-URI-CC

Mrs. Sehar Akram, Communication Desk - ABC4ALL Pakistan URI-CC

Mrs. Summera Isfar, Program Officer - ABC4All Pakistan-URI-CC