Conference Educates Danish Reporters on Islam

Muslim activists, including award-wining British journalist Yvonne Ridley, are planning an international one-day conference for journalists in Denmark next March.

Conference Educates Danish Reporters on Islam

The conference aims to address the ignorant and inflammatory portrayal of Islam in the media, raise awareness as well as help the Muslim minority in Denmark by providing them with support, Fadel Soliman, head of the Bridges Foundation, the organizer, told IslamOnline.net.

He said the ongoing uproar surrounding the publishing of cartoons insulting Prophet Muhammad underline the need for such a conference.

"The cartoons are becoming worse, as if someone is trying to provoke the Muslim community and youth to do something crazy."

Twelve drawings depicting Prophet Muhammad in different settings appeared in Denmark 's largest circulation daily Jyllands-Posten on September 30.

In one of the drawings, an image assumed to be that of the Prophet appeared with a turban shaped like a bomb strapped to his head.

The images, considered blasphemous under Islam, have drawn rebuke from the Muslim minority and triggered a diplomatic crisis between Denmark and Arab and Muslim countries.

Turning Point

Bridges Foundation has been getting requests for help from Muslim communities all over the world, Soliman said.

He added that after the Denmark conference, they will start planning for another conference in Australia .

This coming conference, Ms. Ridley told IOL, "can be a turning point if it succeeds in getting non-Muslim journalists covering Islam and Muslims objectively. It will be the start of a big thing."

In the conference, she will be promoting Bridges Foundation and will give a talk about freedom of speech, something she sees as being "strangled at the moment."

Ms. Ridley, who is a patron of three charities, said that she has deliberately not attached herself to any group or organization, but that she was "impressed" by the Bridges Foundation and its vision.

"As a professional journalist, I owe it as a duty to myself and to my profession to inform myself to write with some authority. I am sick of reading, for example, in the western media that suicide bombers shave their body hair before they go out to carry out their attacks."

Along with Ridley, a member of the Board of Trustees of Bridges Foundation, there will be many high-profile speakers in the conference.

Media

Ms. Ridley, meanwhile, lamented the way journalism is seen by many Muslims.

"Unfortunately, journalists are seen as an extension of government propaganda or are easily bribed, in the Muslim world.

"The Muslim community tends to keep a distance from journalists and the media, and this backfires. Media is a powerful tool and we [Muslims] have to learn how to use it."

Ridley asked, "What is more noble than informing and educating the public about the truth?"

She went on to praise some Arab journalists, such as those working in Al-Jazeera news television, for their bravery in covering hotspots.

"I can salute the courage of the journalists who go into areas that Western journalists can't or won't go into. The last few years have been tiring for journalists all over the world."

Previously employed by Al-Jazeera, Ridley has won a case of "unfair dismissal" in a Qatari court. She expects a final verdict in February.

On a personal note, Ridley, who was captured and released by the Taliban while covering the US war on Afghanistan, told IOL that after she accepted Islam, publishing her work became more challenging.

But all her friends from Fleet Street now go to her to "ask for advice" with regards to covering Islam and Muslims.

Now the Political Editor of Islam Channel, and with a morning TV show dealing with controversial current events, Ms. Ridley has visited many Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Indonesia, Brunei, Iraq and Palestine.

Stressing the importance of differentiating between Islam and Muslims, she maintains, "Islam is perfect, but those who practice it aren't."

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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