The subject of opposing the “Islamic State” (ISIL) and its ideology through the Arab and Islamic media, has been a dominant topic at a recent forum in Moscow called “Journalists of the Muslim Countries Against Extremism.”
The nature of this phenomenon, the ways of dealing with it today and tomorrow and other issues have attracted the attention of nearly 50 prominent Arab media figures from Turkey, Pakistan, Iran and the Russian Federation.
Speakers all agreed on the fact that in the present media space within the Arab-Islamic world, there is a fierce battle raging for the minds of the population, especially for the minds of young people. They stressed the danger of radical Islam, which enjoys the protection of a number of regimes in the region and from the West.
The Director of the Syrian National Agency (SANA), Ahmad Dawa, said there are studios that produce ISIL propaganda videos freely in a number of regional states. This terrorist organization and other such groups, he said, are full of former US ex-prisoners that were captured in the days of the US occupation of Iraq. They were accused of terrorism only to be released by Washington later on.
Hakan Aksay – a Turkish columnist for the T-24 online magazine drew attention to the fact that Ankara’s suppression of free speech is nothing but further evidence of its connections with ISIL. According to him, from 30 to 100 journalists are doing time in jail now in Turkey.
The extremists largely exploit interpretations of Islam and its sacred texts with the aim of confusing those faithful, said a Lebanese professor, Nasib Huteyta, a member of the Federation of Arab Journalists.
Arab journalists are fairly concerned today that Islamists are increasingly engaged in using social networks in their propaganda campaigns, which cannot be controlled. These radicals manipulate media streams to create a distorted picture of the world, recruit new supporters, and promote their cult of death.
The participants of the forum called for a greater resistance to these destructive Islamist ideas across social networks. Without removing the banner of Islam from the hands of radical militants there’s no victory to be achieved in the media, they argued.
Nabil Zaki, a journalist from Egypt, described calls for the toppling of the Syrian President Bahsar al-Assad as disguised attempts to undermine state institutions in Syria.
Amir Mohebiyan – the Director of the “Arya” news agency, Nabil Lotfy, a columnist for the Egyptian newspaper “Al-Akhbar” and a number of other prominent journalist urged the international community to cut the external financing of radical cells and organizations.
Negative news must be limited in the daily coverage of events, since jihadists exploit this, so there’s a desperate need for “positive” news.
A lot of speakers stressed the urgent need for mutual support among media professionals who are standing at the forefront of the fight against this global scourge. They are convinced that Russia can become a magnet of attraction and consolidation among the ranks of Arab and Muslim journalists, and can provide radical extremism with an adequate answer.
All those who attended the forum praised the role of the Russian Federation in the fight against terrorism in ensuring the stability of the Middle East in the closing communique . They supported the initiative of the Group of Strategic Vision, “Russia – Islamic World”, which organized the forum, to hold such events annually.
Yuri Zinin, Leading Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.