The media should be careful while running news on violent extremism and work to raise public awareness about the menace, speakers said at a discussion on Thursday.
The observations came from an event titled ‘Round Table Conference on Role of Media for Preventing Violent Extremism and Launching of Media Resource Guide’. It was arranged by USAID and Society for Media and Suitable Human-communication Techniques (SoMaSHTe) at the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) auditorium.
Media professionals, academicians and NGO officials shared views on the exposure of extremism in the name of religion and politics. Former Dhaka University vice chancellor Professor Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique presided over the event. Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, the prime minister’s media advisor and editor of Daily Observer, was the event’s chief guest.
A book, titled ‘Mass Media Resource Book on the Prevention of Violent Extremism’, was launched at the program following a presentation by SoMaSHTe on their project highlights. Prothom Alo senior reporter Sheikh Sabiha Alam and DU Professor Dr Shameem Reza presented a critical review of the book.
Arefin Siddique said Media should act cautiously while carrying news about crimes committed by extremists with detailed description since such incidents could encourage vulnerable individuals to tread the path of extremism.“Objectivity should be a journalist’s prime concern when dealing with such sensitive situation,” he said.
Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury expressed concerns about a rise in violent extremism in Bangladesh. He criticised the activities of former governments who, he said, ‘backed’ terrorist organisations such as Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, Ansarullah Bangla Team and Harkat-ul-Jihad.He urged journalists to raise awareness and unite the people against violent extremism.
Randall Olson, the democracy, human rights and government office director of USAID Bangladesh, said extremism was not limited to religion and everybody’s opinion should be considered to find a sustainable solution. “The book is not a final answer for media professionals but [is the]beginning,” he added.
Jatiya Press Club Secretary Farida Yesmin said extremism had seen an alarming growth in Bangladesh recently. “We can surely find a solution if we face the issue collectively,” she said.DU Professor Fahmidul Haq stressed proper media focus on violent extremism.
Reaz Ahmed, Dhaka Tribune executive editor and a co-author of the book, said violent events across the globe were influencing the young people psychologically. “It should be seen that they are de-radicalised and media approach towards them has to be sensible,” he said.
Former chief information commissioner Professor Dr Golam Rahman presented a summary of recommendations.Others present at the event include Director General of National Institute of Mass Communication Md Rafiquzzaman, President of Bangladesh Nari Sangbadik Kendra Nasimun Ara Haque and President of Women Journalists Forum Mamtaj Bilkis.