Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Media should promote Islam and democracy: Discussion
by Tony Hotland

The media should not highlight Muslim hardliners who take the law into their hands in the name of religion, academics said Tuesday during a discussion organized by the German Embassy called Islam, Democracy and Media Freedom.

The two-day discussion started Tuesday and is set to include scholars, philosophers and members of the media.

Tuesday's speakers included scholars who said controversial or saturated media coverage of hardline groups would tarnish the mostly democratic Muslim population in Indonesia.

The discussion Tuesday also found Islam and democracy had proven their compatibility in the republic, where they said multiculturalism was well preserved.

Speakers at the discussion said democracy in Indonesia was supported by the fact it constitutionally upheld freedom of religion.

Eighty per cent of Indonesia's population is Muslim.

Franz Magnis-Suseno, a reputed scholar from the Driyarkara School of Philosophy said, "Unlike Malaysia, Muslims (here) are legally allowed to embrace a new faith".

"We are seeing unprecedented relations between Muslim organizations and those of other faiths, and it shows democracy survives in a land of Muslims."


Hans-Ludwig Frese, a German Islam observer at Kleio Humanities in Bremen, said Muslims in Germany, who were mostly from Turkey, also played an important role in sustaining democracy in Germany.

"The difference is they don't claim allegiance to a specific Muslim organization like many here do," he said.

They said because Indonesia was displaying good relations between Islam and democracy, the media here should contribute by not portraying extremism or fueling controversy.

The latest incident around the media and Islam was the publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers, inciting worldwide protests by Muslims.

"What the media need to remember is that Muslims here are committed to democracy, so don't mind the hardliners," Azyumardi said.

"Thus the media should take responsibility for having promoted such radical figures."


Media to blame for Islamic misconceptions
By Alan Blank

The managing editor of one of the country’s biggest newspapers thinks news organizations ought to hire more Muslim reporters.

Philip Bennett,
the Washington Post’s managing editor, said reporters often struggle with understanding Islam during a speech Monday at UCI about the difficulties of covering the religion.

Bennett’s speech focused on the media’s need to cover issues concerning Islam in an in-depth, long-term manner.

To illustrate this point he drew mainly from quotes of notable colleagues and statistical polls, rarely giving his own opinion directly.

“Six of 10 Americans, according to a 2007 ABC Poll, don’t understand the basic tenets of Islam,” Bennett said.

He attributed this to the lack of Muslims working in American newsrooms.

“At the Post I want more Muslim readers and I want more Muslim journalists,” he said.


Pertinent Links:

1) Media should promote Islam and democracy: Discussion

2) Media to blame for Islamic misconceptions

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