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Books and Documents

Islam and the Media

Promoting media literacy
Manzoor Ali Memon

Stagecraft and dramatic elements such as conflict, tension and sound, etc., are manipulated by the anchors and producers in order to engage the viewers. The anchors, often intoxicated by the power of their medium, pass decrees and sweeping statements. As a result, with the passage of time talk shows may lose their charm for the viewers. It is relatively easy and cheap to conduct programmes with invited guests but quality requires investment, research, diversity, objectivity and plurality, which is often lacking. As a result of all these factors, such shows are becoming purposeless for the public at large. However, they may be serving the purpose of media owners and sponsors. -- Manzoor Ali Memon

 

The audio-taped conversation between Hamid Mir and a man purportedly linked to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), indicates that information Mir passed on to the TTP, and direct exhortations by Mir, could have led to the execution of Khalid Khawaja, a former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) officer, allegedly killed by a group calling themselves the Asian Tigers, a little known TTP-linked outfit. The tape, which has Mir divulging ‘dirt’ on Khawaja, ostensibly to TTP militant Usman, who was to ‘cross examine’ Khawaja, was first posted by the ‘Let Us Build Pakistan’ blog, and subsequently picked up by other online publications. It is still unclear who made the tape, with online speculation suggesting that it could be the militants themselves, or intelligence agencies who released the recording. While Mir claims the tape is a fabrication, several sources, including the ISI and Khawaja’s son, Osama Khalid have confirmed that the voices on the tape belong to Mir and to Usman. Usman had spoken to the Khawaja family during negotiations for his release. -- Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

The Muslim leadership’s short-sighted campaign in the Shah Bano case was to change the Supreme Court judgement upholding a Muslim divorcee’s right to maintenance under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, through a legislative enactment [1] enabled the chauvinist Hindu leadership to convince common Hindus that in matters of faith the judgement of the court had no place. Accordingly, when the Supreme Court directed that the structure of the Babri Masjid should not be disturbed, as no available evidence indicated that a temple originally existed on its site, the Hindu leadership started arguing that the ruling of the court had little validity when the people believed that a temple actually existed there. This stand has not changed and has recently been emphasized by the VHP.

The style and objectives of the Muslim leadership in the Shah Bano and the Babri Masjid campaigns were ill-conceived, as arguably was Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League campaign to have a separate homeland for Muslims carved out of the Muslim majority areas of undivided India. It was sheer luck for Indian Muslims that those running the Shah Bano and the Babri Masjid campaigns lacked Jinnah’s mobilising skills. -- Ather Farouqui

 

There was a recently blogged article on this newspaper’s website that suggested a rivalry between agencies that spilled into the media, citing this as a cause for the leaked tape. This makes eminent sense, and again underlines the need for bringing these intelligence agencies under control. However, this will not happen by just issuing a notification placing the ISI under the interior ministry as Rehman Malik tried to do in the early days of this government.

The role our intelligence agencies — and especially the ISI — have played in Pakistan’s politics is a matter of public record. From rigged elections to the disappearance of scores of citizens, much has been laid at the doors of our spooks. Such is their reputation for unsavoury deeds that even when they have nothing to do with some incident, they are considered guilty. For precisely this reason, it is in their interest to be less secretive. -- Irfan Husain

 

But, alas. Against all odds and rumours, Zardari has actually got his name highlighted on the more luminous sides of the country’s political history, thanks to his role in the passage of the 18th Amendment and in the running of an unprecedented coalition government (of former adversaries).Something no government ever since Z A Bhutto’s demise could do (or perhaps even imagine doing) has been done by a regime whose main architect is a man most detested by the media.

But then what to say of an electronic media some of whose channels, for example, decided to place the cosmetic Shoaib-Sania saga at the top of their main 9:00pm news bulletins on the day the 18th Amendment was passed by the National Assembly and a terrible suicide bomb attack that ripped across a crowded area in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. -- Nadeem F. Paracha

 

The Information and Broadcasting Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah said that the country had given total freedom to the media, adding that it was not the sole responsibility of the media to broadcast news, but it also had the duty to present the political, social and cultural affairs. Speaking on the relations between media and technology he said that it was technology which had given media such a wider reach, and impressed on the need to adopt technology in every field of the media. He opined that the Arab world possessed unlimited creative capabilities and is capable of adopting newer techniques for wider dissemination of news and information.

 
The Bankruptcy of Pakistani Media
An editorial in the Sahafat

You think that currently the Pakistani journalists are busy discussing and analysing the proposed amendments to the Constitution, or reporting on the first big conference of the landless farmers of Pakistan in which the intellectuals and experts expressed their opinions on the plight of farmers and their apprehensions and suggested solutions. Right? Wrong! For Pakistani media, these affairs are less important than the Shoaib-Sania wedding. Like the Indian media, its Pakistani counterpart, particularly the Urdu and Punjabi media also considers the debates raging on the wedding more important than any other issue. -- An editorial in the Sahafat, New Delhi

This is a short introduction to the world of Persian bloggers and their daily use of the tools. This, therefore, is not an outline of events and names. Bloggers have emerged, they have started new projects and many of them have eventually shifted their attention to another endeavour or have retired for different reasons. From the onset of the Weblogestan, as the inhabitants of the Persian blogosphere tend to call it, different players have come to the stage and have faded away. This is the story of their achievement: how eight years after Salman Jarriri's first Persian blog post no one exactly knows how many Persian blogs there are. -- Arash Kamangir

 

We can admire the prescience of these writers; we can also despair over what lies ahead for Pakistan, and what shape the country might take. This tragic phase has coincided with an incredible flowering of literary talent. With the state withdrawing from exercising even a semblance of authority, several authors of Pakistani origin or heritage have seized the space, writing seminal works that provide clarity in our absurd times. Maybe exceptional strife spurs imagination--think of Samizdat writers during the Cold War--although responding to the crisis is not the overt intention of any of Pakistan's fine novelists. -- Salil Tripathi

 

“We have faced pressures from the state and threats from non-state actors, such as jihadi groups. We have faced pressures from Pakistan’s feudal lords and from its religious zealots and yet we have persevered and refused to lapse into silence,” said Mazhar Abbas, secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and host of an ARY talk show in Washington, who was visiting the city along with other Pakistani journalists at the invitation of the Woodrow Wilson Centre.

 

I also believe the Muslim community can only move forward intellectually, spiritually and politically if we can engage as intellectual warriors in a civil, peaceful conversation about even that which may offend us. Even the Qur'an (31:19) enjoins us to decorous debate: "Lo! The harshest of all the voices is the voice of the ass,  writes Asra Q. Nomani.

 

The Jewel of Medina controversy: Once upon a time, Sherry Jones was a Montana newspaper reporter who dreamed she could contribute to world peace with a novel about the prophet Muhammad and his feminist leanings. Then she wrote it. Today? She’s the target of a Serbian mufti and a Middle Eastern studies professor with a lawyer.

OIC to Revamp Islamic News Agency
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News

The International Islamic News Agency (IINA), the media wing of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), will soon undergo a major face-lift in order to play an effective role in highlighting Muslim causes and bolstering Islamic unity. “We have appointed a specialized company to restructure IINA and have begun the long process of rebuilding the agency,” OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told Arab News. The IINA restructuring is part of a 10-year action plan approved by the emergency Islamic summit in Makkah, he added.

 
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