Inciting sedition and hatred in society by media can be controlled or limited through education and a code of professional conduct, delegates at the ongoing Arab Media Forum, in Dubai, were told.
The experts’ panel said misuse of media outlets has gained unprecedented momentum across the Arab World.
Addressing delegates at a session ‘Inciting sedition through media,’ on the second day of the 13th edition of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai today, panel members said media should be blamed for allowing this state of affairs.
Imparting education at school level, bringing in ‘responsible journalism’ and implementing a general acceptance of a professional code of conduct, were touted as the key remedies.
Panel members included Ali Bin Tamim, Editor-in-Chief, 24.ae, Ammar Bakkar, CEO, Yes2Digital (Y2D), Mustafa Agha, Anchor MBC and Waseem Yousef, Anchor, Al Dar Channel. The session was moderated by Liliane Daoud, Anchor, ONTV, Egypt.
Liliane said media has an indisputable role in inciting hatred in the society. The Internet is rife with messages of hatred, spreading rumours and alteration of facts. This is bound to have significant adverse effects on the stability of societies, let alone the values of acceptance, coexistence and tolerance of others.
“Media should play a constructive role here. They usually highlight the views – particularly extreme views – of some groups as if they represent the majority of people. There are media people who cannot differentiate between right and wrong. Therefore a reference is required to define what is right and wrong,” said Bakkar.
Tamim agreed that the concept of sedition and inciting be defined first before any principle or code of conduct is worked out.
Mustafa said there is no 100 per cent independent or unbiased media. Even in selecting a guest at a talk show, they take a stance. And some are paying a price for telling the truth.
Waseem suggested that media should consult religious leaders before presenting their views as many a time the media is not representing the truth. “They did not support good things. Religious characters are not as famous as film personalities. That’s why we need some guiding principles and code of conduct.”
Is this widespread of sedition incitement a reflection of the struggle for power in Arab countries or is it a dormant cultural inheritance brought to surface by political and ideological conflicts?
The panel was of the view that it is definitely the quest for power that is guiding the extremist groups and the media should exercise their judgment in a professional manner.F