TEHRAN, Dec 3 (Bernama) — Governments must be more proactive in utilising the convergent media to promote and project the positive values of Islam, says Malaysian Ambassador to Iran, Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin.
“We should seize the opportunities that convergent media present to engage and interact with a wide spectrum of the faithful, quickly and effectively,” he said in his statement presented before the 10th Conference of Islamic Ministers of Information (ICIM) hosted by Iran in Tehran, Wednesday.
He proposed that Muslims worldwide use media convergence to present “our story to the world so that the world will understand the Muslims better.”
“We can put our minds together and produce common story boards of the positive aspects of our religion,” he said at the two-day Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference themed, `Media Convergence For Establishment of Peace And Calm In the Islamic World,’ which ends on Thursday.
The 57-member state OIC, based in Jeddah, is the second largest inter-governmental organisation after the United Nations, with its member states spread over four continents.
Raja Nushirwan, who represented Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek at the conference, noted that advances in technology occurred at a time when the Muslim world was facing deep divisions in terms of ideology, beliefs and practices among the faithful.
“And that extremists had been very adept in using these technologies to spread their ideology of hate,” he said.
Raja Nushirwan said the fact that the mainstream media, including in the West, had now described these extremists as `technologically-savvy’ and `astute media manipulators’ had only served to give them false legitimacy in the eyes of the impressionable young.
“As a consequence, externally, more and more, we now have to deal with various perceptions of Islam which has led to unwarranted antagonism towards the religion and its followers, or what is now termed as Islamophobia,” explained the Malaysian ambassador.
Thus, he proposed that the Muslim world work with Internet search engines and video streaming services to ensure that websites which sow religious discord or cast aspersions on the sanctity of Islam were kept in check.
He said that there was a necessity to instill in the Muslim ummah the need to use the new media and communication technologies responsibly and ethically, pointing out that the ummah must also be selective and discerning in accessing news and information on the web.
“This is critical as the new media platforms have become avenues for spreading falsehood, deviant teaching and recruitment of followers to serve misguided and wrongful causes,” stressed Raja Nushirwan.
He pointed out that in Muslim countries like all others, a balance was needed to be struck between ensuring the freedom of expression and ensuring that these liberties were not abused to the detriment of society.
“It is equally important for us to recognise not only the negative implications of these new technologies, but also its vast potential to educate, create and empower, as well as the fact that they are here to stay,” he explained.
Raja Nushirwan noted that many centuries ago, Muslims led the world in science and technology, which was the bedrock of Islam’s predominant place in the world; however in time, Islam’s intellectual tradition ossified, signaling its civilisation’s decline.
“We must not make the same mistake and instead, use these new technologies so that the Muslim world can take its rightful place in the international community,” he said.
However, despite embracing new technologies, efforts aimed at establishing peace and calm in the troubled Muslim world hinged on unity amongst Muslims based on the teachings of the Prophet and the tenets of the Islamic religion.
“Our unity is the surest and strongest defence against any onslaught that the changing media landscape may pose to our efforts to ensure the Islamic world and its people live in peace and harmony,” he concluded.