Islamic Research and Information Center’s 43rd monthly Conference in English language titled “Human Freedom, Empire of the Media,” addresses the very important subject of “mankind and media” in the contemporary world.
Today, the role of media in altering perspectives or creating perspectives for human beings is certain and we are aware that most global media are at the service of particular schools of thought, superpowers and under the ownership of Zionist and colonial polarities. They speak superficially of “Human Freedom” but through media airwaves drag humanity toward paths desired by them.
This conference has been reserved for the issue and the following questions can be tabled:
1. Do the media transfer all information or do they channel issues and broadcast them afterwards?
2. How does Media advertising form perspectives for human beings so that they subconsciously fall captive to its subliminal messages?
3. The main ownership of the media lies in whose hands with what kind of vision?
4. In whose hands is the administration of the internet as the biggest medium and what benefits does the administrator derive from such medium?
5. What role should the media play in the globalization phenomenon?
6. What must be done so incorrect moves by the media, does not impede human liberties?
7. What objectives and obligations for the world of Islam’s media can be proposed and what duties do the cultural figures have in this field?
It is hoped that different dimensions of the above issues can be better made subject to hair splitting analysis through your active presence as well as efforts by attending lecturers and experts.
Dr. Jafari's speech
Media: rightly blamed but finally help democracy prevalence
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen!
In this article, I am going to introduce two important points: the first one is "the relation between the real roles ,of media with the prevalence of democracy", and the second one is "the unbalanced criticism and blames of the Moslem societies against the national and international media with the amount of their media initiatives."
Naturally, in this short article, I am not going to any detailed analysis of these two points, since each of them needs enough time to be discussed in details. In this chance I just try to , introduce my points as clear as possible in order for the thinkers and researchers to follow up the issues more deep and prefect.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen!
Now, I begin my discussion by introducing the first Idea. I will try to make two integrated points in this regard:
First: the media in general and the western media in particular, were blamed, criticized and attacked by thinkers and leaders in different developing countries and especially by Moslem nations. No doubt, these dalliances and criticisms should not be judge as baseless and no reasonable, although, in no way, they were securing from the bad effects of pessimistic approaches.
In the last five decades, for instance, western media functioned as the most destructive tools for the entities, beliefs and national sovereignty of third world nations and Moslem nations in particular. Fortunately there are hundreds of search full articles and materials published to support this point of view using different important cases. The most recent one is the contempt, insolence and despising cartoons published in different western media against the Prophet of Islam, Mohammad (s) and has been widely criticized not only by Moslem nations but fortunately by many thinkers in different corners of our world. Second: The main point I try to make is that: in recent decades, media and particularly western media, were the goal of reasonable criticisms and attacks, but in the meantime, an important reality has been continuously ignored: no body talks about the role, function and effect of the media in pushing forward different nation's freedom movements. For instance, no research has been done on the positive participations and roles of national and international media in the victory of Islamic revolution in Iran. I regard this, in its turn, as an unjust and ingratitude approach we followed in our evaluation of the role of media. Now lets me add up my first theme: although National and international media, when they used as the tool of colonization and unfair exploitation were justly blamed for their misdoings against third world and Moslem nations, but finally it is the media that helped democratic movements to end in success and this face of the coin could not be ignored.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen
Now, I try to make my second Idea. Here again, I have two points to be introduced.
First: In the last fifteen years the huge developments in the field of communication and information technology, has changed many essential parameters of the world of media. The most important and fundamental parameter is the very cheap, simple, straightforward facilities of direct bidirectional and multilateral communication among individuals, in different corners of the world, no matter where they are. This development is so important that one can predict with a great hope that, the mentioned parameter finally materializes the will of nations and will help them to gain control over their own fate.
Second: the share of Moslem nations in deploring the media currant state of affairs is in no way in a good and just balance to their weak participation in day to day software and hardware initiatives of the field of Information technology. Moslem nations were used to wait, until a new initiative is materialized and then used by the initiators according to their own policies and against Islamic values. One would say that our very job is then to sit and deplore the situation and blame others who naturally care about their own interests.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen!
Let me ask a question: just in the last decade, we observed a huge amount of media and multimedia initiatives in the field of communication. Now do you see any of them to be the result of the mind of Moslem societies?! As one of the last cases in this regard, consider the initiative of web logs as a personal, private, and free of charge media. The role of Moslem administrations hardly goes beyond of attempting to deprive their citizens of accessing this new facility as they did the same in the previous instances.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen!
Moslem societies, thinkers and faithful scientists, must immediately manage an organized attempt to increase the initiative share and contribution of Moslem nations in the world of media and communication. Fortunately, some isolated and mimic moves, such as the establishment of professional TV news networks, had been done in recent years with some good consequences. But this is just the first step. We Moslems must introduce new initiatives and tools to the world of communication and media. It is in this way that we, too, would be able to be pioneers of using our native initiatives to defend our Islamic values and national interests.
Dr Nahavandian's speech
MAN’S FREEDOM & MEDIA’S EMPIRE
Today the topic of conference is going around the recent events: man’s freedom and media’s empire. What we have observing in recent days and weeks is a flood of news coverage on the issue of prophet against what it is being called as cartoons. I think analyzing this case is a good case study for the general topic of today’s conference. Are we witnessing an episode of man’s freedom or are we witnessing a good example of media’s empire or a combination of both?
As an objective observer the result of the majority of the coverage that world media is having a kind of image of Muslim community around the world who are not tolerating a little cartoon. They are flooding in the street, they are throwing stones, they are setting embassies on fire, they are burning flacks and they are doing what ever amount violence against something which is no more than a so called “cartoon”. This imagery of what media is making of all of what’s happening now. And the focus of the round table discussions that we see in the media here and there is the topic of freedom of speech. Is that the case?
To understand what the right position on the issue is first we have to realize what the nature of the issue is? What is the issue? What is at stake? Is it only just one cartoon being published in one newspaper presenting some humorous view of some cartoonist who has happened to draw something out of negligence maybe, of something being cherished by some people of some religion mistakenly? But in this case there is a free planed decision to ascribed terrorist acts to the certain religion and despite all of condemnations, from all around the Muslim world that all Islamic centers and circles, all Muslim Olama have condemned this terrorist acts, this doesn’t make any change. To continue to call these terrorists as Muslim terrorists after few months these events sufficiently is being used as a prelude for military invention of Afghanistan, and following that Iraq. But the propaganda continues. Every now and then some individuals are being taken hostage by a group called Muslim. Group with their eyes covered under some Islamic slogan, in some cases being beheaded in a very violence and intolerable way or the threat of being beheaded is being used and gets the highest level of coverage in the world media.
What all of these do? It is fundamental the level of that Muslim terrorist to the level that it was not only one Muslim terrorist group, there are other Muslim terrorist groups and the general conclusion can be Islam is the religion of terrorism. And very seldomly the question is being raised that in protests here and there in the world not only in Afghanistan or Palestine or Iraq, but in the heart of France if there are some social unrest is it only because of some kind of mind set of people who are protesting or is a real social cause for this? Even in the issue of France protest which took for more than several weeks, even there the issue of Islam was being raised although analysts know there is a document from for years back which has alarming signals that the rights of minorities in France is not being respected so there is some source of unrest in French society that is not been much mentioned but the issue of religion of some of these people who are protesting and who are setting cars on fire is being emphasized. So the issue is a preplanned orchestrated scenario for depicting Islam as the culture of violence. Why is this animosity against Islam? Why there is so much money being spent on this and there is so much political forces pushing this plan ahead?
There is one analysis for this and that is the fact that after the claps of ??? And the failure of the socialism in its Marxist-Leninist version liberal capitalism became the only system who claimed rule over the world. But at the same time, although this system has earned ruling over the majority of mankind but without any defenders culturally without generations supporting the ideology of the system so there we are having a sociopolitical economical system as the establishment for the world order but at the same time ideologically there are not many supporters for the system according to the value system of people and whenever you have this case, having an establishment with all of the power in place but without enough moral support for system there you see a great potential for a new philosophy rising. That was the case when socialism grow in Europe and in a very short period of time took over Russia and half of US. And for more than a half of a century had a very serious ??? with capitalism in Europe. Why?
Because socialism, Marxism, Leninism was honest in delivery what it preach? No. just because of the potential of arrival ideology. And for any student of sociology in every part of the world in United States of America who is the biggest political military and economic power of the world and in Europe, in the Africa and in the Asia. And if some setting can be presented to the mankind which combines justice with spirituality and with reason, this combination would be very appealing to the mankind. Because every philosopher knows that the liberal capitalism could not bring about justice.
Yes… fortune has been created but the dividing gap when it comes to the distribution of income has been on the rise not on fall.
Today we are living in a less just world than 50 years ago and this is being felt more than ever because of globalization, because of world media. People see discrepancy, people feel the difference, people feel the gap. So the gap has traveled from the objective world to the subjective mind of the people around the world.
What about spirituality? The tendency towards religion and spirituality despite the prediction of August Count and some other philosophers in 19th century even at the beginning of 20th century who are thinking that religion is on the fall and by the end of 20th century religion will not play significant role in real life of mankind. Right on the opposite, we are seeing the willingness and eagerness towards religion and spirituality is on the rise; of course in different ways and shapes but that feeling is there. That is why you see the birth of so many extremist religious movements everywhere: in Christian world, in Jewish world, in Islamic world and in other parts of the world as well. Not agreeing with those versions but those are extra examples of this tendency, the feeling of lack of enough spirituality in the life that establishment is offering and the third the kind of ideological thinking which does not negate or ignore reason whatever civilization has brought up. So if you can find a kind of combination of these three that has very high level tremendous potential for attracting people to minds and hearts.
Islam has that potential. Islam has become in the last two decades the fastest growing religion in Europe, US and Africa. For more the strategists these trends sound as alarm and for those who do not want a potential ??? to become a reality the best way which comes to mind is to depict this potential competition into its opposite. If Islam is promising ??? as its name shows Islam is teaching servitude to God and considers all humanity one humanity under God and the prophet of Islam is the symbol of humbleness and kindness and generosity if we go through his life. So the best way to stop this moving vehicle is to depict it right opposite. The scenario is being designed and put in operation with small groups of people to do extremely violent acts and then use that example to prove that it’s the religion of Islam which brings about this kind of extremism and violence. There are so many evidences for this hypothesis. If this true (I’m not saying that it’s 100% true, I’m not saying that it is the only explanation for all of what we are observing but) one can not discard this theory as one of ponderable theories explaining all of these events.
Now; having that in mind, what is the real problem?
The real problem not with those people who are behind this scenario but with the majority of people who just gets cut in the middle of fire. A cartoon is being printed some where and there is some protest here and the coverage of news, the majority of people in the world are cut in the middle of this fire.
Who is right? Who is wrong? Is it the issue of freedom of speech? Or is it the issue of religious tolerance? Or is it the issue of hate crime?
I think there is a problem here and that is the problem of globalization. What that has to do with this? We are living in a world that becomes glibalized more and more. But this globalization has not brought up appropriate morality with it. We are having globalization by the mean of world media. Something happens at the other part of the world and I see it in the news five minutes later. But just the news of it! I don’t feel it close enough to have my human feelings make my positions for that. If that has happened in my neighborhood I would never ever go and try to provoke my neighbor to do some act of violence against me, I respect my neighbor. If I have a colleague in work place, if I have a neighbor in where I live I try to understand him and I try to respect what he respects or believes in. I do that in a range that I consider my neighborhood. The whole globe has become a village but we don’t feel it as a village. We do not apply the same moral quotes and moral terms and norms that we apply in our neighborhood in our global neighborhood. If it was something which I had a very low chance of guessing that it would offend my neighbor or my colleague in my workplace, I wouldn’t never do that. But since I do not think that it offends my sister or my brother or my neighbor or my roommate I go and reprint it. I do not apply the same moral standards in my global workplace or neighborhood. I think this is a very important problem that we have.
Globalization is on the rise but the moral standards for this globalization is not in place and that’s why in recent years you see more and more voices coming from across the world asking for global ethics. We need that global ethics in business. Business is becoming global but our ethics not necessarily. We need that ethics in our political life. Our political life is becoming more and more global but there is no global ethics to control exercise of power globally. Locally yes. If a government violates rights of its own citizen all different NGOs start??? Against government and extra exercise of power by police for example by intelligence people. You see that in local news. But if the same thing has been done by this government in some other part of the world you don’t see that kind of protest became global ethics is not being applied in global politics so we are witnessing a deficit of morality and ethics in globalization. At the same time globalization is suffering from something else and that is democracy. What we are seeing is globalization by multinational cooperations not being elected by people of the world. If that is the minimum definition of democracy so global governance is either directed and managed by MNCs (corporations) who are not elected representative of human society or with a single super power or few political powers of the world who are not democratically elected representatives of more than six billion people residing over this globe. Either way, these two alternatives to have democratic governance. So the real problem is that we have created a new environment for social life called globalization but we have not brought about appropriate global ethics for it. And the sad event that we are witnessing is that there is a religion that throw centuries has attracted hearts and minds of people more that a billion residence of today’s world consider this religion as being religion of peace which has elements of spirituality reason and justice to offer to the world. This alternative should be given the chance of being presented to the world but what we are witnessing is to deface of this religion, ideology and alternative philosophy. Actually to disable the rest of the people in the world from knowing this religion and understanding in its real meaning and maybe accepting it. So this is a very sad story of killing the competitor, out of the fear that if it was a fair competition it could be the winner!
Now; if that analysis is true that there is a predesigned and orchestrated scenario to depict Islam as a culture of violence, what can we do as Muslims to defuse this design to confront this plot?
- We have the responsibility to introduce to the world, to the global culture, the necessity of coexistence of responsibility with freedom. Freedom without responsibility is anti-freedom. If you do not do define responsibility along with freedom you can expect the end of freedom and that would be freedom for few and slavery for the rest. If you want to guarantee existence and application of freedom you have to define it in a way which is combined with responsibility. And Islam is of that kind of opinion about freedom. Freedom of speech can not guaranteed if the responsibility of those people who exercise their freedom is being maintained.
- The social values should be considered as a public good. Social values are not something which can be discarded or damaged. If I damage your personal property what would you do? You have the right complain and the government has the responsibility to stop me from damaging your personal property. What about public property? If I burn a social park or a natural resource, I should be taken responsible for this damage. Public property is more valuable than personal property and social values are public property. Social values are public good. If we have to come to the point to understand the value of moral system in social life, so the social values should consider as public property and public good. And if I damage this social value, this is not called freedom. If I damage the basic values of those elements which keep communities and societies together I should be taken responsible for that. And this is actually what is being exercised. If you burn a flag of a nation in that country you are taken responsible for that act. Why? A flag is nothing but a piece of clothes with some colors on it. Not much material damage is being done. Why do I get punishment for that? Either social punishment or legal punishment. Because with burning this flag in this country, I’m offending not every body in this nation, I am damaging the root of unity of this nation and this is a public interest. It is a public good and I’m not allowed to do that damage to the base of unity of this nation which is considered as an asset for the social life. The same applies to values like the respect for prophet. Even in the words of historians and philosophers who where not belonging to any divine school of thought every body has confess that man’s civilization owes it’s moral life to those who have claimed to be prophets more than anybody else. If we cherish our moral heritage we have to respect our prophets regardless the fact that I believe in Him or not.
- We have to realize that our society is not a local society any more. We are living in a global society. Of course in different ranges of being global but we have to realize that we are living in a global society. So if the second point was true and the social values should be respected and considered as a public good, then the social values of another society should be respected by me too. That is not enough for me to say that I’m not living in a Muslim society so I’m free to offend Muslims or the value system of the Muslim community.
- if the social values are a public asset, everybody has to exercise his/her right to protest against damaging this value system the right to protest should be observed and now that we are facing that predesigned scenario depict Islam exactly opposite of what it is, to depict Islam which is the religion of peace as religion of violence, it’s not only the right but the duty and responsibility of every Muslim to protest this. Nothing is far from truth to show Islam as a culture of violence.
- We have to be very careful in the way we protest. The way we protest should be in compliance with the message that we want to deliver. If our message is the fact that Islam is the religion of peace and not violence, the way I am trying to deliver this message should say the same. I can not deliver the message of peace in violent way. If I do so, actually I have played according to that predesigned scenario. Because that’s what they want to use the cameras for. They want to take more and more pictures of Muslims doing violent acts and they have the control of the footnote and they have the control of the footage that they are using. So we have to be very careful. There are so many peaceful ways of expression of our opinion not to be forced to resort to ways of violence.
And let me finish with just one historical fact:
The man who was the subject of this offence, prophet of Islam, Mohammad (PBUH), had very tough days or the days that He had very few followers. It is narrated in His history of life that He was passing in an alley and there was a man living in that neighborhood and he hated Mohammad so much that every day when He was just passing by his house, he was throwing some garbage on His head. And the next day Mohammad was not changing His way. He was still passing the same path. And for the third day and forth day and days one after the other… the same was happening. And there came one day that Mohammad passed the same alley and there was no trash no His head. Mohammad stopped and asked his companion where our friend is?!! He didn’t notice us passing. The neighbor said he is sick. He is in the bed. Mohammad knocked the door, went in and said I didn’t hear from you today so I came to visit you!!
This is the kind of Mohammad who has shocked and attracted the hearts of more than one billion people today.
And this is a correct statement:
He is the only historical personality who has moved the world and still doing it not by violence, by His morality. The morality that Allah _sobhanahoo va ta’ala_ who is the creator of the first universe, in Koran called His ethics and His behavior as the great one:وانک لعلی خلق عظیم
Date : Thursday( 27th Bahman) February 16, 2006; From 3 to 5 PM
Place : Iranian National Program for Globalization Studies; NO. 35, East 18th Str, Kaj Sq, Saadat Abbad Ave. Tehran. Iran