Media … A Great Responsibility
Muslim communities are witnessing many challenges and opportunities at the same time, the biggest of which is finding the ideal method to achieve the maximum benefit from these opportunities, and at the same time limiting any negatives that may result from dealing with the issues raised in those communities, and perhaps the most prominent issue in our time is the issue of media generally and new media specifically, and here I mean, in specific, the social media platforms through internet networks or mobile phones.
In addition to the challenges of language and different cultures, taking into account the social, cultural and economic components of both the sender and the recipient in the field of media, and the variance in technical capabilities between societies, the issue of the content of those messages and media materials and the nature of the discourse issued from the media platforms. On the other hand - and it is the most important in my point of view - the nature and extent of awareness and understanding of the recipient of the messages and content that is broadcast and published. From this standpoint that a non-specialist in media affairs sees as a very complicated issue in dealing with, or even understanding those criteria in formulating media content and understanding responses or measuring what is called in the media as ‘feedback’, through which the sender can measure the results of his messages and the strength of their impact on the recipient, positively or negatively.
The aim of the previous introduction is to analyse the media situation of institutions and organisations related to Muslim communities, and at the same time to realise the importance of the media discourse issued from those institutions and the extent of its influence on Muslim communities, on one hand, and on the rest of the society’s components from non-Muslims, on the other hand, especially if we take into account that the recipient can hardly determine the nature of the source that sends or broadcasts the material, its geographical area, and its cultural, political or social orientation, therefore this content is classified as content issued from Muslims and that it represents them or what their religious teachings dictate to them.
Thus, those in charge of formulating and disseminating media content must realise the importance of the role they play, not only in introducing the activities and events of their institutions, but also that the impact of their work extends to formulating the stereotype, through which the fixed image of Islam and Muslims in the world is formed, and therefore it has become imperative to take into account many basic elements in formulating media content, especially since they carry a great trust, perhaps the simplest of which is that what will be broadcast and published on media platforms will be used to judge the behavior and approach of millions of Muslims in the world.
You can possibly imagine the positive impact of forming an image of Islam and Muslims resulting from a video clip of a group of people providing assistance to an elderly person or a picture of a Muslim serving in an entity concerned with providing health or humanitarian services to the rest of the components of society, regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliation, and you can also imagine the extent of the negative impact of a video clip of a preacher calling to fighting non-Muslims or prohibiting dealing with non-Muslims from the pulpit of a mosque located in a European country, and how such thing would be reflected very negatively on a wide segment of Muslims, not only in the country where that preacher lives, but unfortunately its impact will extend to the rest of the Muslims in the world, some people will say that Muslims cannot bear the burden of what a person does; which is a great injustice. But do all non-Muslim recipients have the same level of awareness and culture of understanding to differentiate between an extremist preacher and a moderate one?Unfortunately, the judgment will be, in general, across the rest of the Muslims, and such actions offer an opportunity to everyone who seeks to distort the image of Islam and Muslims, and consolidate the concept of ‘Islamophobia’, which unfortunately extremist and terrorist groups utilise to spread hate speech and racism among everyone, and the one, who will be undoubtedly affected by all of this, is the Muslim, who seeks to live in security and peace, contribute to the development of his society and country, and secure a decent life for him and his family.