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Bridge between Christians and Muslims


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by Katherine Farnon (Radio Netherlands Worldwide) @ WEMF III, Kuala Lumpur, 10dec07

Published in: News & Politics, Business
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Bridge between Christians and Muslims

  1. 1. I want to share some of those findings with you today. I have deliberately picked examples from outside the Asian region to complement the other speakers on the panel. But I believe that what we're seeing in Africa, Europe and Latin America is relevant to the discussion here. First, there are no two countries at exactly the same stage of development. And you cannot generalize either. There are some countries in Africa where little has changed since colonial days and the government maintains an iron grip on both broadcasting and telecom.· But there are also countries, like Benin, for instance, where the government has separated the regulation of FM licenses from the regulation of content. One body, the Higher Media Authority gives stations the power to go on the air. The other called the aDEM, which is independent of government and which is made up of media professionals, journalists, publishers and editors has drawn up a code of the ethics which needs to hang prominently in every station given a· licence. And if those rules are broken, such as broadcasting material, which might incite racial hatred, the ODEM can have a station's license suspended immediately. It's for this reason that this part of Africa is seen as a media-lab for rule making in the African context. Of course, no system is perfect, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Media, and especially community media, has played a huge role in reducing corruption. Election fraud usually happens when the ballot box is being moved from a regional polling station to a
  2. 2. the future role of media in Africa have concentrated on the ~nderplayed the national networks and rather role that community stations play in capturing the oral culture in local languages. We're pleased to see a growing number of initiatives that will help to not only broadcast programmes in local languages but also store and catalogue stories from today,so that they can be put into another context for tomorrow. Fortunately, technology is helping us here as the cost of mass storage continues to plummet. But the academic community has yet to understand the extent to which community media are building sustainable conversations in society.
  3. 3. .~II<ON PRESS RELEASE World first! IKON and Radio Netherlands Worldwide build a bridge between Christians and Muslims Today, 6 December, Dutch broadcasting companies Radio Netherlands Worldwide and IKON in Hilversum are launching a world first: the integral texts of the Bible and the Qu'ran alongside each other on one website. The site appears in Dutch, English and Arabic at the same time. The objective of the site is to build a bridge between Muslims and Christians. The website removes the threshold for anyone to access the two holy books anonymously. A universal search function makes it possible to search the texts of the holy books using any word and to compare them. The site shows the frequency of the word in each of the books and also displays all relevant parts of the text. The results are surprising. A word such as 'virgin' for example appears 16 times in the Bible compared to twice in the Qu'ran. To help visitors in their search through the voluminous books, the site contains a selection of eighteen stories, which occur both in the Qu'ran and the Bible. This also provides a few surprises; for example both holy books tell stories about Jezus/Isa, Noach/Noeh, Maria/Marjam and many others. Around 150 people connected to this issue are attending a festive mUlti-cultural and international gathering to launch the website at the Institute for Sound and Vision in the Media Park in Hilversum. The main speaker, who has flown over from England, is advisor to the Council of Europe Stephen Whittle. As controller of editorial policy at the BBC, Mr Whittle has earned his spurs as an advocate for objective reporting on Christian and Islamic issues. In a video message, Arabist and philosopher Tariq Ramadam stresses the international importance of the website for the dialogue between Muslims and Christians. quot;If we want to promote mutual respect we need knowledge of the other text, but in a humble way. Every one of us should be committed to get knowledge from the website.quot; Dutch Integration Minister Ella Vogelaar also enthusiastically welcomes the initiative of the two broadcasting stations via the video camera. EDITORIAL NOTE Enclosed you'll find a screendump of the website. For more information please contact Marjolein Klaassen-Hulst, Radio Netherlands Worldwide press officer. T +31 3567242 12, M + 31 651 1563 94, E