In a significant display of international media solidarity against bias and misinformation regarding the Palestinian issue: The Muslim World League brings together members of the Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA), major international agencies, and leading religious and diplomatic figures
Dr. Al-Issa states that the phenomenon of hatred has escalated into an epidemic due to the disparity between theoretical legislation and its actual implementation. He emphasizes that the media plays a crucial role in addressing this imbalance.
What we are witnessing in Gaza today is a crime. The attack on innocent civilians is a deplorable act against humanity.
Countering hate speech is essential for preserving peace and security in societies, as well as fostering friendships among nations and peoples.
Hatred, in its most repugnant and extreme form, has originated from double standards. These standards have evolved beyond mere interpretation and manipulation, escalating into outright defiance and irrational contention.
On behalf of the scholars and intellectuals of the Ummah within the framework of the Muslim World League (MWL), we express our deep appreciation and value for the significant efforts made in support of the Palestinian issue. This includes, notably, the initiatives spearheaded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through historic summits and extraordinary humanitarian campaigns.
The Palestinian issue has been subjected in the media to attempts to erase the Palestinian narrative.
The fundamental objective of the media should be to foster a culture of tolerance, justice, and love among people. It should aim to defuse crises and avoid inciting strife, hatred, and the division of societies.
The Muslim World League convened an international forum titled 'The Role of Media in Inciting Hatred and Violence: Risk of Misinformation and Bias.' This gathering, a significant global event demonstrating solidarity against bias and misinformation, particularly regarding the Palestinian issue, brought together the Union of OIC News Agencies representing 57 countries, along with key international news agencies from Asia, Europe, and America.
The forum was launched on Sunday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, under the patronage of, and attended by, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League and Chairman of the Organization of Muslim Scholars. His Excellency the General Supervisor of Official Media in Palestine, Minister Ahmed Assaf, also attended, along with numerous ministers, Islamic and international media leaders. The event featured a selection of ambassadors, religious, intellectual, and human rights figures, as well as leaders of international organizations.
The forum was held within the framework of a robust partnership between the Auxiliary Secretariat for Corporate Communication of the Muslim World League and the Union of News Agencies of the OIC. This partnership is a reflection of their shared objectives, with the Union being an independent specialized organ.
The opening session began with welcoming remarks from His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League and Chairman of the Organization of Muslim Scholars. He stated that the forum is supported by two international organizations: the Muslim World League, represented by its Auxiliary Secretariat for Corporate Communication, and the Union of News Agencies of the OIC.
The Role of Media in Inciting Hatred and Violence: Risks of Misinformation and Bias' is a deeply touching topic that concerns every undaunted conscience, presenting a global challenge intersecting with numerous international issues. This broad title covers multiple topics which have been subjects of extensive debate and are of deep concern to the Muslim World League, as well as to international governmental and non-governmental organizations," His Excellency stated.
Given the international attention afforded to this issue, its repercussions are as clear as daylight. This dangerous global shift highlights to the world that advancements in materialistic sciences are not directly correlated with advancements in ethics and values. It is only when science is guided by values that humans can make progress in both domains. This represents the absent dimension and the missing link in the shaping of the human mind.
Despite international attention to the phenomenon of hatred, this disease has escalated into an epidemic situation, exacerbated by the gap between abstract legislation and its pending implementation. It has become intractable, solvable only with an 'informed, sincere, and effective collective will.
His Excellency Dr. Alissa warned that this issue has resulted in a deplorable state of chaos and intellectual decay, leading to a regression that has propelled the civilized world backwards. This regression has undone progress made since the devastating world wars and the establishment of an international system uniting nations under a single charter, reverting us to scenes reminiscent of less developed eras.
Humankind knows that its origin is the same, and anyone who believes in their Lord, regardless of their location, time, religion, and creed, understands that all descendants come from Adam and his wife.
In Islam, Allah said, "O Children of Adam!" This means that everyone is considered children, and children are brothers, even if they differ in religion, thought, race, color, or land. However, there is a distance that can lead to hatred, hostility, confrontation, conflict, and clash. This occurs when a difference that initially represents satisfaction, faith, or intellectual desire related to a person's, group's, or nation's convictions turns into a confrontation and a clash in a reality that can only be described as a mental disorder.
It is important to note that this is why Islam has emphasized the principle, as Allah said, "There is no compulsion in religion," which means that no one should be forced to abandon the religion they were born into and coerced into adopting another religion, neither through force nor harassment.
The media plays a crucial role in steering our world away from the dangerous escalation of hate speech, discrimination, and exclusion, as evidenced by history. These elements often lead to conflict, clashes, and violence. By acting effectively, the media can be a lifeboat, saving society from these perilous waters," emphasized by His Excellency Dr. Alissa.
From here, I assert that there is nothing more dangerous than allowing the expression of hatred without consequences. This trend fosters a perilous culture in which hate-driven debates dominate both nationally and internationally. Therefore, it is imperative for everyone to recognize that countering hate speech is a fundamental step in preserving the peace and security of societies and in strengthening friendship between nations and peoples. This friendship is crucial and urgent, as people can coexist peacefully only within this context.
Furthermore, if we delve into history, we can see that hatred has historically led to enmities born out of ignorance and has fueled devastating wars. When the ominous face of hatred infiltrates a society, nation, or people, it inevitably brings about evil.
Despite all of this, in the era of 'material enlightenment' and 'civilizational progress with its common concepts,' some minds still lag behind in terms of values. The drift into hatred has taken hold of minds and policies," His Excellency continued. "In a number of cases, this hatred has manifested itself in its ugliest and worst form, with double standards at the forefront. These models have gone beyond interpretation and manipulation to outright defiance and unreasonable contention.
While people work diligently on preventive measures in the field of public health and explore early warnings for potential threats to physical well-being, a similar approach is needed when it comes to the peace among nations and the harmony of peoples and communities. Therefore, effective observatories are required to identify early indicators and threats of hatred, allowing for timely addressing and mitigation.
He added, “What we are witnessing today in Gaza, including the criminal attacks on innocent children, women, and others, are a disgrace to all of humanity.”
This humanitarian catastrophe has profoundly impacted every undaunted conscience. We must resolve this issue through the principles of justice and human rights, as supported by a committed and effective international community. Initially, this was predominantly an Arab and Islamic issue at its core. However, it has evolved into a global human rights matter, underscored by unresolved international resolutions that have been repeatedly violated. Consequently, this has led to bloodshed and far-reaching repercussions.
In this regard, Sheikh Al-Issa, representing the scholars and intellectuals of the Muslim Ummah within the framework of the Muslim World League, expressed high appreciation for the significant efforts made in support of the Palestinian cause and the firm stance against the crimes in Gaza. He specifically acknowledged the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in historic summits, offering prayers for Allah's blessings upon the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, may Allah protect them.
Thereafter, Ahmed Assaf, the General Supervisor of Official Media in Palestine and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Palestinian News and Information Agency, expressed his gratitude to His Excellency Dr. Alissa and the director of UNA. He stated, 'The forum convenes at a challenging time for our people in Palestine, particularly in Gaza, which is enduring this massacre and genocide. Taking the Palestinian issue as a model for the media's role in combating misinformation and bias, we find it to be the most genuine and clear example. It represents the struggle between truth and falsehood, honesty and lies, deception and slander.
For 75 years, since the onset of aggression against the people and land of Palestine, there has been an attempt to erase the Palestinian narrative. This issue has been plagued by bias and misinformation from major media outlets globally, which have often been blind to the truth. These outlets have also sought to obscure, deny, and eliminate the truth. When addressing the Palestinian issue, they turn a blind eye to the crimes, persecution, murder, and destruction occurring on Palestinian land," Minister Assaf said.
He also highlighted that the conflict with the Zionist occupation originated when they began to establish their state on the premise that Palestine was 'a land without a people for a people without a land.' Consequently, they aimed not only to negate the Palestinian narrative but also to align exclusively with an alternative narrative.
Assaf described the essence of the Zionist occupation as 'an attempt to erase history,' signifying an effort to obliterate not only the present but also the future. He explained that their narrative was constructed on the belief 'that the adults will die and the young will forget.' However, while the adults have passed away, the younger generation has grown increasingly attached to this land and to the cause.
The ultimate goal of the media should be to foster a culture of tolerance, justice, and love among people, to defuse crises, and to avoid inciting strife, hatred, and societal destruction," he asserted. "When some biased media outlets obscure these truths, how can we expect the Palestinian people, or the Arab and Islamic communities, to respond? Is it feasible to accept these falsehoods, overlook the truth, and deny the tragic reality and the daily massacres occurring in Gaza and Jerusalem? No one can accept these lies, and undoubtedly, this bias will only engender more hostility towards all these policies.
The Minister of Media of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Dawood Owais, commented, 'The recent events in the Palestinian territories have exposed the bias of numerous international media outlets and their lack of commitment to objectivity and truth. This underscores the necessity for Islamic countries to enhance their media institutions and develop their capabilities in line with international standards, in order to bridge this gap.
He also pointed out, 'The media plays a crucial role in Somalia's fight against terrorist movements and extremism, as well as in promoting religious moderation.
Mr. Mohammed bin Abed Rabbo Al-Yami, the Acting Director General of the Union of News Agencies of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (UNA), emphasized, 'The media plays a pivotal role, either negatively or positively, in shaping civilizational concepts, formulating the public's perception of different peoples, and influencing public opinion on international events and issues.
He further stated, 'If this fundamental role of the media is left without guidance and instruction, it may be exploited by extremists and hate propagandists to desecrate sanctities, incite sedition, and create crises. Therefore, our gathering at this forum is crucial to discuss the most effective ways to harness the media's role in combating hate speech and violence, and to develop overarching principles and guidelines in this context.’
Mr. Al-Yami noted, 'This forum takes place amidst tragic circumstances and a widespread humanitarian catastrophe being experienced by the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, due to the recent Israeli escalation. This situation compels us to reflect on our responsibility within the international media to augment the role of our institutions. Our goal should be to support efforts aimed at achieving peace and stability, protecting civilians on both sides, and ensuring the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, chiefly the establishment of their independent state.
Mr. Al-Yami expressed his thanks and gratitude to the Muslim World League, led by His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Alissa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League. He commended the organization for its dedication to strengthening ties with international media institutions and acknowledged the vital role of the media in any genuine and earnest effort to bring people closer together and foster principles of coexistence and brotherhood among diverse cultures and religions. He specifically expressed gratitude for the meticulous care, ongoing supervision, and significant efforts of His Excellency Dr. Al-Issa, which, with God's help, contributed to the success of this forum.
Following that, the opening session featured a live broadcast with several journalists from the Palestinian territories. They discussed the realities of journalism during the Israeli aggression and the challenges they face in fulfilling their professional duties.
The session also featured a presentation of a short film, which explored the role of the media in influencing public opinion and shaping community awareness, both negatively and positively.
Subsequently, the discussion sessions commenced. The first session focused on 'The Role of Religious Institutions and Leaders in Combating Hate Speech and Violence in Media Platforms.' Meanwhile, the second session addressed 'Bias and Misinformation in International Media: The Palestinian Issue as a Case Study.’
The third session discussed 'Ethical Responsibility in International Media,' while the fourth session focused on 'Religious and International Media Alliances to Counter Hate Speech and Extremism.
Additionally, on the sidelines of the Forum, a memorandum of cooperation was signed. This agreement, between the Auxiliary Secretariat for Corporate Communication of the Muslim World League (MWL) and the Union of News Agencies of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (UNA), was officially endorsed by Mr. Mohammed bin Abed Rabbo Al-Yami, Director General of the UNA, and Mr. Abdulwahab Al-Shehri, Executive Secretary for Corporate Communication of the MWL.