Arab Media: How To be Effective in Counterterrorism

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (Sudanow.info.sd) - The Workshop on the role of the Arab media in challenging terrorism, held in Khartoum through last Thursday and Friday, was not the first such a convention to tackle this malaise.It was preceded by lots of such conventions to tackle this sticky issue.
Equally, it would not be the last such a congregation of politicians and thinkers to mull this mounting plague. Yet terrorist attacks are steadily spreading bringing harm unspeakable to innocent people and properties Worldwide.
A number of pressmen who had participated in Khartoum convention gave sound ideas about how could such forums be useful in counterterrorism and what mechanisms can be adopted to stem the phenomenon.
Jamal Nasir al Sowaidir, chief editor of the United Arab Emirates News Agency (WAM) said the recurrent conventions on the matter were an indication that the role of the Arab media was not sufficient in tackling the issue in the proper way. These conventions have failed to find the best ways for raising awareness of the youth about the harms of terrorism, he said .
“As Muslims, we have a weekly forum which is the Friday Prayer to discuss the problem. We also have several platforms that can be utilized in a proper way to raise public awareness about this phenomenon that contradicts the teachings of Islam,’’ he said.
Sowaidir has, however, considered it suitable to hold the workshop at this time. “The subject is very important and requires double attention from the leaders of the Arab media, given the current state of affairs, where many world circles are keen to tie terrorism to Islam,’’ he said.
He said from the workshop’s opening addresses he had noticed the existence of new thoughts. He said he also came to know about the experiment of Sudan in dealing with terrorist thought.” The intellectual debates held by Sudanese Moslem scholars with some detainees were noteworthy, ‘ he said.
“Those debates, which started in 2008, had underwent a number of stages: Psycho-analysis in order to see how would-be terrorists think, followed by a religious programmes in which the accused get true knowledge about Islam and then a programme to integrate them in the society,’’ he added.
Sowaidir hoped that the workshop recommendations would receive due follow-up and implementation from concerned bodies in the Arab League and the Arab media.
He said to stem terrorism ‘’we have to concentrate on education and the dissemination of moderate religious knowledge’.’
“We have to correct the image of Islam and its adherents,’’ he said ‘’and that is the responsibility of the Arab media’’.
“The Arab media is not up to the challenge. It does not address the Arab citizens’ crucial matters ,’’ he said.
“We have to defend our causes, open up towards the outside world and not just talk to our self,’’ he said, adding that ‘’unfortunately our address to the outside world is poor.’’“Our media is strong when it addresses inter-Arab conflicts ,’’ he added.
Sowaidir has, further called for the adoption of a unified Arab strategy that corrects the misconceptions about Islam.
Dr.Leemya’a Mahmoud, representative of the Sout al-Arab (Arab voice) media network said terrorism was no longer a local matter but has become a global problem.‘’That is why there is need for collective action to stem it,’’ she said .
“Terrorism grows via dubious financing whose source we might know and might not know or do not dare to disclose ,’’ she said, adding that ‘’ in any case terrorism succeeds in achieving its objective of arousing panic, horror and instability in the Arab countries .. and that is what our enemies want in order to create a new colonial form of intervention at this stage.’’
She added that we the Arabs “ have to unite our effort and the Arab media has a basic role in this confrontation. We have to integrate our role and spread strong concepts capable of raising the awareness of the young generations, because they are the target of terrorism.’’
Dr. Leemya’a attributed the escalating terrorism to the fact that conventions held to address the problem are ‘’ no more than talk events.’’
“We meet and talk and that all. There should be mechanisms for applying the findings of these conferences. We have to be practical and follow up and assess the outcome of what have been decided,’’ she further elaborated. The Arab media now has an immense machine, which if directed in the right path, it could bring about a good outcome, she added.
We have to correct our path and consolidate the official media that, unluckily, waned very much and lost lustre, a matter that caused the Arab citizens to turn towards private media outlets that have their own agenda, she said.
Hani al-Asbahi, adviser of Yemen’s Embassy in Cairo, said terrorism has now become a controversial issue not just in the Arab World but the World over.
“ As a result , the Arab citizen has come in-focus in the Western World. The Arab citizen has become the subject of erroneous accusations,’’ said Asbahi.
He considered this Khartoum workshop as the beginning of a series of conferences which will later on be held by the Arab League in the U.A.E and Bahrain.
Asbahi has considered the Sudanese religious message as ‘’moderate and balanced and has played a positive role.’’
He said the Sudanese curricula ‘’seek to enlighten the new generations in a proper way.’’
Asbahi said his country was facing a new form of terrorism.”We in Yemen face a new form of terrorism .. that is the Houthi terrorism that kills people who adhere to a different school of Islamic thought .. that is a new phenomenon which is alien to our Islamic and Arab societies.’’
He said the growing terror reveals the scope of the conspiracy against Moslem and Arab nations.
Asbahi said that both official and private media outlets have now engaged in discussions about terrorism with a view to finding solutions.
Solutions cannot be attained through ‘’commanding addresses‘’ but should also include drama, music and other artistic programmes that address the youth and children in a suitable manner in order to guard them against such deviant ideas, he said.
Mahmoud Abdu Hassan, State Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism in the Republic of Somalia indicated the need to combat terrorism ‘’through ideas and not through guns.’’
“Terrorism has no religion and no nationality and the mounting terrorism requires a solid and unified decision from all the Arab states to stem this danger,’’ he said.
“We in Somalia have been very much prejudiced by terrorism that halted development,’’ he said.
“Many innocent Arab nationals living in the West have fallen prey to the terrorism stigma,’’ he said.


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