On 15 and 16 July the Islamic Reporting Initiative (IRI) took part in a symposium entitled ‘Mechanisms to challenge Islamophobia legally and through the media’. The event was organized by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) in coordination with the Islamic Cultural Centre in London.
The meeting was held as a follow-up to the ‘Media Strategy to Counter Islamophobia’ prepared by the OIC General Secretariat and adopted by the 11th Islamic Conference of Information Ministers in Jeddah, KSA, on 21 December 2016.
The event was attended by about 50 media experts and civil society representatives, including academics from a number of European universities. The organising bodies addressed the challenges faced by the spread of Islamophobia from a professional, legal and human rights perspective.
How can we stop islamophobia together?
Dr Ahmad Al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, expressed his gratitude to the organisers for addressing such a pressing topic. He highlighted the fact that Islamophobia can take many forms and has become more widespread and versatile. Dr Mahjoub Bensaid, Head of Public Relations at ISESCO, praised institutions such as the Islamic Cultural Centre for showing the true image of Islam as a peaceful religion advocating tolerance, and Dr Maha Akeel, Head of Public Relations at the OIC, emphasised his organisation’s mission in addressing concerns facing Muslims worldwide.
The three major topics discussed at the symposium were Islamophobia from the perspective of international law, Islamophobia from the perspectives of the media and legal and human rights, and how to promote mutual cooperation and understanding with civil society organisations to eradicate misconceptions regarding Islam and Muslims.
There has been an escalation of anti-Islamic activity, including violent acts and hate campaigns, in a number of European countries. These violations of human rights, an indication of the lack of tolerance within society, have demonstrated the urgent need to address stereotypes regarding Islam and Muslims in the media and to present a positive image which will favour dialogue and develop cooperation and shared values of tolerance and co-existence.
Lord Sheikh, Member of the House of Lords in London, mentioned in his speech at the symposium the social challenges facing many Muslims in the UK and the potential for mosques to diversify their activities to assist young Muslims in particular. Dr Harriet Crabtree, Executive Director of the Interfaith Network, discussed the role of interfaith activities and the provision of a platform for dialogue and inter-religious discussions to promote harmony between those of all faiths.
At the conclusion of the symposium a Collection of Recommendations and Proposals was submitted to the OIC, ISESCO and stakeholders, and the OIC and ISESCO were praised for their hard work in initiating the symposium and supporting Muslims worldwide.
The not-for-profit Islamic Reporting Initiative was founded in 2015 after recognizing the natural synergy between the values and principles of Islam, and the drivers of Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Essentially, the IRI is a business tool that guides transparency across the Islamic world according to Islamic values. The IRI has the support of the UN Global Compact, the OIC, and membership in more than 50 countries.
By promoting the transparent disclosure of Islamic values such as peace, compassion, tolerance, social justice, human dignity, and environmental stewardship, the IRI is a strong platform for raising awareness regarding the core philosophies of Islam as well as creating greater business integration between societies.
Islamophobia can only be defeated by educating those that don’t understand the inherent nature of Islam. And in this, there is deep alignment with the objectives of the IRI.
Article: How can we stop islamophobia together?