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Media Against Hate

Uphold our ethical standards

Karolina Kobak

Media Against Hate Workshop focused on representation of Muslims in the media

Published on 2017-06-12

More than 30 people traveling from all over Europe (Germany, UK, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Croatia, Malta, Hungary, Denmark, Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Norway) – their nationalities also including Afghanistan, Algeria, Netherlands, Lithuania, Pakistan – joined the second Media against Hate media literacy workshop organised by CMFE, at the University of Warmia and Mazury, in Olsztyn, Poland, from June 7th to 9th. They represented organizations as diverse as local community radio stations, professional journalism and civil society and were welcomed by local (Polish and international) students and academics interested in sharing good practices in preventing and countering hate speech.

The round table on Muslims in the Media, organised in cooperation with OSCE/ODIHR, discussed media portrayal of Muslims in Polish and European media and highlighted main issues and recommendations for improvement. Adam Puchejda from Kultura Liberalna, co-author of a media analysis on the representation of Muslims in Poland, stressed that animosity towards Muslims in Poland is a direct result of media representations and political campaigning, where Muslims are only a tool used by nationalist parties. Emina Ragipovic, President of the Foundation “Culture without Frontiers”, reported about increasing attacks and intimidation against Muslims in Poland in a challenging political climate. Sabika Shah Povia, an Italo-Pakistani freelance journalist based in Italy, shared her personal story of finding strength and inspiration in our own histories and diversities, and pointed to the need of diversifying newsrooms beyond political correctness. Mary Dowson and Shamim Akhtar, radio presenters from Bradford Community Broadcasting in the UK, showed how community radio has been creating cohesion and facilitating dialogue across diverse communities for more than 25 years. The roundtable was moderated by Dermana Seta, Adviser on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims at OSCE/ODIHR. Ms. Seta’s work is crucial in supporting Muslim communities in dealing with anti-Muslim stereotypes and xenophobic public discourse, as well as in collecting good practices of community and mainstream media in promoting intercultural dialogue. The diversity of Muslim communities in Europe was highly visible and represented by various associations from the UK, Slovenia and Croatia, among others.

Gordana Knezevic, award-winning journalist who covered the siege of Sarajevo in 1992-1994 as deputy editor of Oslobođenje, and Dariusz Grzemny, expert on human rights, hate speech and discrimination, trained participants on “Freedom of expression and respect of human rights – where are the boundaries and what is hate speech?”, addressing the responsibilities of journalists in recognising hate speech and the place of freedom of expression within a human rights context.

Participants also attended a session on Community Media as spaces of inclusion, where several community media projects promoting dialogue and cohesion where presented, such as the Syrian community radio station ARTA FM. This Internet radio station was founded in February 2013 by a group of Syrian-Kurdish activists and media professionals based in and outside Syria. It is run by a multi-ethnic Syrian team in several cities producing radio programs in Kurdish, Syriac, Arabic and Armenian, and building bridges with Syrian refugee communities in Europe. An interview with Siruan Hussein, ARTA FM’s general director based in Germany, was recorded in Olsztyn and can be found here.

Thanks to additional co-funding from the Council of Europe Media and Internet Division, a few participants from non-EU member states were able to join the workshop and present their community media projects, in particular:

All three community radios are playing an important role in providing media literacy skills to young citizens of different backgrounds and promote projects countering discrimination. For example, Radio Active’s “Meet differences” project involved twenty children in a research about differences. Afterwards, the children wrote a positive story about the investigated differences, to reflect that “difference” doesn’t necessarily represent something bad and that although all of us are different, we can get along. In the end, the stories were used to make a radio show produced by the participants themselves.

A photo gallery is available here.