Fr. Bader says from Vienna: Social media networking needs a media code of ethics

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Fr. Bader says from Vienna: Social media networking needs a media code of ethics

Vienna/ en.abouna.org

Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader has stressed that the media outlets are invited nowadays to create atmospheres reflecting further cordiality, optimism, dialogue, and positivity. He also called for adopting a media code of ethics in order to quench the conflagration caused by “the discourse of the wolf” being reverberated on these outlets, and replacing it by the “discourse of St. Francis’’ which states, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

This was reported in his intervention during the two-day international conference convened by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) titled, “The Power of Words: The Role of Religion, Media and Policy in Countering Hate Speech” which convened in Vienna on October 30-31, 2019.

A Jordanian delegation participated in the conference which included Editor-in-Chief of Ammon Agency Mr. Samir Al-Hyari, Director of Rased Center Dr. Amer Bani Amer, Sheikh Dr. Omar Al-Rousan of the Jordanian Fatwa Department, and Maronite parish priest in Jordan Fr. Ghazi Khoury.

Coinciding with the 800th anniversary the historic meeting between St. Francis and Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil which took place in 1219, Fr. Bader related in his intervention St. Francis’ taming of a predatory wolf. He said, “One day, St. Francis tamed a predatory wolf that used to scare the people of the town, Giobe. He said to him: ‘O wolf calm down. I will let the villagers serve you food. But neither hate them, nor humiliate them. Neither despise them nor frighten them, and do not instill terror into the hearts of their children.’ The wolf reacted by shaking hands with Francis. Consequently a truce was in place and peace prevailed.’’

He added, “The wolf is present today in social media. It is a verification of what one said one day in the Roman era: ‘Man is a wolf to his brother.’ Every time the media try to disseminate the spirit of division, antagonism, hatred, rejection and despising the others, as well as inflicting damage on them, on their relatives and dignity, we definitely allow the wolf to bark and sometimes to prowl. The spirit of acting like a wolf is present in the social media. It is a feeling of hatred, a desire to denigrate others, to offend them, to criminalize them, and to label them as infidels. This feeling could transform into a violent act. That is why the one who carries out terrorist acts and is not affiliated with an organization is referred to as “a lone wolf.”

He went on to say in his intervention, “The wolves exist and examples of goodness exist as well. We want the media outlets to adopt a noble attitude so that we do not focus on the ‘quantity’ of daily news but rather on its quality. We have to abandon the lupine behaviors of tweets and proceed to humanitarian ones.”

Among the participants in the conference in Vienna were KAICIID Secretary-General H.E. Faisal bin Abdul Rahman bin Muammar, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, former President of Austria Heinz Fischer, and 200 senior religious officials from various religions.

During a session on the role of modern media towards hate speeches, Fr. Bader questioned in his intervention, “Will the world remind us eight centuries later that we gathered in a hall in Vienna, as Francis is being remembered during his meeting Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil? We hope so. But history will not forgive us if we are indifferent to the suffering of people and to the use of means of media outlets that violate human dignity.”

Fr. Bader stressed that “we need education in the field of media. This implies that a media message neither implies saying what you think of nor to freely express one’s instincts. The media ‘tool’ is the author of a media message. We have to take two points into consideration, namely getting trained on adopting professional, creative, and constructive media, in addition to getting brought up on the ethics of using these messages in the service of development, and of the culture of love and encounter.”

Referring to the role of the CCSM in this regard, he said that the CCSM had earlier organized two workshops on guiding young university students to proper use of social media. He continued that the CCSM launched in May 2019 “the Media Code of Ethics” in cooperation with the Platform for Dialogue and Cooperation among Religious Leaders and Institutions in the Arab World, and the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the Orient.

The CCSM director concluded his intervention by calling for the establishment of a joint Islamic-Christian intellectual and religious body that functions in "extinguishing fires" at times of distress and to counter hate speeches. He also called for establishing a joint Islamic-Christian television satellite station designed to demolish walls of ignorance, and to introduce one to the other in a healthy, sound, and constructive way since hate speeches are basically speeches of ignorance and failure to know the truth.

Sat, 11/02/2019 - 14:17
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