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AFRICMIL tasks media organisations on diplomacy in reporting religious issues

THE African Center for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) on Monday has tasked media organisations on the need to adopt diplomacy when reporting religious issues for the purpose of national cohesion, and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.

The Center in partnership with National Orientation Agency (NOA) made this call in Abuja during a  round table dialogue titled: “Media Dialogue with Religious Leaders on Advancing Peace and Interreligious Dialogue in the Age of Social media” .

The dialogue aimed at exploring various ways to stem the tides of religious crisis in the country and how to report  it.

At the round table, media practitioners from various organisations stated the challenges encountered when reporting religious crisis, not neglecting the role of religious and political leaders in fueling unrest among the two major religions.

Speaking at the event, the Head of Media and Communication, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Aselemi Ibrahim noted that the concept of a single story fuels social crisis in the country.

“The media has not been fair in the reportage of the religious crisis as a social responsibility. Religious reportage should be geared towards national cohesion while considering cooperate existence of the nation,” Ibrahim said.

The media was advised to avoid the use of stereotypes in addressing perpetrators of crime in the society.

“Crimes should be reported the way they happened, and the religious background of the deviant be reported with less focus on his/her religion,” a media participant at the event said.

On the role played by religious leaders, the participants noted that there was a need for the leadership of Christian and Muslim groups  to communicate their interests without inciting chaos

Religious leaders were, therefore, enjoined to consciously choose their words and sensitize their followers not to act on any report they come across on the social media stinging their beliefs.

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Speaking, the Director, Justice and Development and Peace Commission, Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Solomon Uko blamed the media especially in their deeds of upholding more wrongs rather than good.

“They should be balanced in their reportage. The positive side should be the main highlight regardless rather than more of the negative,” the clergyman noted while enjoining the media to be considerate in its approach on disseminating religious issues in the country.

Also, Sambo Abdulahi an Imam and a representative of a Muslim group noted that it was pertinent for media practitioners to be faithful in their duties of reporting the actual facts of happenings in the society and avoid infusing their personal biases in their line of duties.

“We should separate the evil from the religion,” he said.

On his part, the Assistant Director Press, National Orientation Agency (NOA) Paul Odeniyi noted that media practitioners should uphold citizenship first, as a focus before region.

He said, “People should be penalized for their crime and the responsibility of the media is to report the crime the way it is”.

He reiterated the commitment of the Agency to partner with the Center to ensure that proper sensitization of religious leaders especially at the grass-root is carried out.

The Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Chido Onumah thereafter enjoined media organisations to ensure that conscious efforts are put in place to regularise media contents for objectivity and factualness.

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