The federal government of Gambia said it will not tolerate any form of religious extremism, saying negligence to it will cause division amongst the population. Information Ministe, Demba Jawo revealed.
Addressing journalists at the end of a one-day religious reporting seminar organised by the Amadiya Muslim Jamaat, Minister Demba Jawo said that is the reason why work of journalists has become crucial in promoting inter-cultural dialogue.
“Hate speech and religious propaganda can be used as instruments to violate the rights of others,” he warned.
Journalists covering religious issues have an important role to ensure that information they analyse, interpret and provide are devoid of discrimination, promote religious tolerance and should generally be used to increase public knowledge and understanding of other religions, the media veteran admonished.
“For over a decade, the interest in the way media reports religious issues has increased and critiques have raised the burning question of whether journalists have done more harm than good when covering events and issues that touch upon religion,” Jawo stated.
He argued that the ground rules of factual, fair and balanced reporting needs to be upheld.
It is the media’s responsibility to represent different social groups accurately, he argued, noting that such is fundamental in order to support good relations between communities and people of different religious backgrounds.
Minister Jawo added that religious beliefs of journalists and editors should not interfere with their work, the most important tool to report religion or any issue of a sensitive nature is good journalistic skills.
He said that it is important journalists covering religious issues demonstrate high ethical standards.
Baba F. Trawally, Amir of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’t (The Gambia) said religion and race are some of the most sensitive issues in human society. He added that establishing and maintaining peace in the world requires religion, noting that, it is religion that is capable of giving viable and abiding world peace.
Amir Trawally lamented that many people do not wait for details or a thorough investigation when they receive information pertaining to their religious views and beliefs. instead, they fly in a rage and cause havoc to society thus threatening the peace and security of their religions and countries.
Over two dozen journalists from both electronic and print media were on Tuesday trained on religious reporting. The training was meant to further strengthen journalists’ capacity in reporting on religious issues in The Gambia and beyond.
During the training, journalists were trained on ethics of religious reporting, the need for balance reporting, and standards of freedom of expression in religion.
Saikou Jammeh, Gambia Press Union’s secretary general described the training as important since it was the first time Gambian journalists are being exposed to religious reporting.