Arab women journalists in Jordan discuss extremism

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Jordan has had two days with the Arab Women journalists who held their 11th annual conference with Ms. Mahasen Al-Imam, the renowned founder of the Arab Women Media Center.

The conference tackled this year the Arab nation’s issues namely, the aggression on Gaza as well as the sectarian and terrorist challenges. What is important is not expressing views on the political solutions in this volatile region, but the media's role in these issues that wreak havoc, as well as the role of Arab media women in particular. Furthermore, is there specificity in the performance of the "women" journalist or the Arab ones in particular?

Kamel Mahadin, chief commissioner of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, deputized for HRH Princess Basma Bint Talal. He delivered the opening speech and hosted a dinner banquet at one of the touristic sites in Aqaba.

In the two-day sessions, a number of experts talked about the field of media and its role unveiling the current and future events, as well as giving a glimmer of hope amid the prevailing bleakness.

Why do I talk about the Arab Women Media Center and its conference? I do so because I was one of the participants as I delivered an address titled, "The Role of the Arab Media in the Creation of Extremist Movements." I based my address on the views of Fr. Dr. Rafiq Khoury of Jerusalem on sectarianism, fanaticism, intolerance, introversion and extremism. I quoted him conveying the views of the Patriarchs of the East on the difference between the believer and the extremist, which says that "the believer worships the Almighty God, but the extremist worships himself and his ideas imagining that he worships God."

After a review of some of the models from the Arab countries and considering the manifestations of sectarianism and obnoxious extremism--especially in Syria and Iraq-- which adversely affected the small-numbered religious components—since I abstain from using the term minorities- and the spirit of historical harmony, I pondered the role of the Arab media. Is it an agitator of sectarian conflicts by addressing hatred and incitement? Or is it a factor of unification, peace, reconciliation and love?

The Arab media is undoubtedly lopsided. So is the religious media which has grown and evolved amazingly. We also do not lose sight of the importance of media tools and social networking sites, which present the views of their supporters who have financial or political influence, or both.

As for the war and the media, there are four elements which I quoted Italian Frank Livre. Firstly: The escalating ability of war, or wars, to develop media outlets technically to meet the needs of armies. Secondly: Attempts by every party to the conflict to control the information field. Thirdly: The ability of the media-oriented outlets to use their own way to report the war events by adopting a dazzling and weakening style. Fourthly and finally: The growing use of media as a tool, not only limited to being only informative, but becoming a strategic weapon specific to each party. Here I can add a fifth point, which is that the media and terrorism nowadays have a partnership. One of them creates the event and other you disseminates it.

Consequently, the Arab Women journalists discussed these issues and others where some of them presented emotional experiences. Yet, the most important thing is to urgently call for “humanizing” the Arab media by making is more credible and valid without focusing on the images that denigrate human dignity, and abstaining from broadcasting the tapes and recordings of terrorist leaders, because that is merely promotion. Women media have a role in the "humanization" of media, since being mothers they can concentrate on plans to educate the new generations on the proper use of the media, the preservation of the values of family as well as maintaining a peaceful and sound life for their children, the hope of the future.

Best wishes to the Arab Women Media Center for its constructive activities.

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By Fr. Rif’at Bader, Chief Editor