Speaking on the topic Janan Syed Liyaquat Husain put it that the basic reason of misrepresentation of Islam in the media was ignorance. However, he also said the misrepresentation with intention in some cases could not be ruled out. According to him, if it happened, only reporters and correspondents couldn't be held responsible. Because when the stories filed by reporters/ correspondents were finalized, it passed through various levels and in editing and subbing it was scrutinized. He said actually in this process it got heading and other finishing touches keeping the policy of the media house in view.
L-R: Parwaaz Rahmani, Liyaquat Husain and Dr Manzoor Alam
According to him, the role of the desk was very vital in shaping a news item. So far as some particular terms like "Islamic terrorism" or "political Islam" were concerned, they were generally added by the desk.
Liyaquat Husain said despite many shortcomings, Arab News contributed a lot in developing an effective and constructive media. The group that published Arab News brought out Urdu News and Urdu Magazine in Urdu as well as Malayalam News in Malayalam, he added. He lauded the roles of late Dr Abdul Kader Tash and Khalid Al Maena in shaping the English daily.
Agreeing with him, Akhbaar-e-Mashrique Editor Wasimul Haque said it was true that the desk had a very important role in shaping a news item, rather the entire newspaper. In his view, therefore, the need of the hour was participation of Muslims in a substantial number having knowledge about their religion and issues of the community, besides comprehensive general knowledge.
Dr S Q R Ilyas, Editor, Afkaar-e-Milli, too stressed the need of paying attention by Muslims towards media. He also threw light upon media's coverage of Muslim issues.
Dr Syed Abdul Bari 'Shabnam Subhani', Editor, Milli Ittehaad, lauded the roles of M J Akbar and Seema Mustafa and expressed his sadness over their ouster from Asian Age recently.
Suhail Anjum, who covers for Voice of America from Delhi, said the issue of coverage of Islam and Muslim problems was of utmost importance because they got a little space and the issues that were covered were generally ill-informed and superficial. Author of a book on media in Urdu, Suhail Anjum said there was a dire need for the community to pay attention towards this important aspect. According to him, the reporters and correspondents were sometimes handicapped of facts and figures about the issues related to Islam and Muslims. So, here it was the responsibility of the community to manage a data bank on Islam and Muslim issues, he said.
Journalist-turned research scholar Saad Bin Zia opined that M J Akbar's ouster from Asian Age was political, not on ground of his being a Muslim. Parwaaz Rahmani, Chief Editor, Sehroza Dawat, dwelt in detail the coverage of Islam and issues of Muslim in the media as a whole. He agreed with the earlier contention that ignorance was a major factor responsible for the misrepresentation of Islam in the media. He urged the Muslim community to keep in touch with what's coming in media and write rejoinders and letters to the editors of different newspapers and periodicals on the issues of concern.
Parwaaz Rahmani said sometimes the coverage of events depended upon how the organizers of the programmes themselves perceived it. According to him, this happened in the coverage of Deoband Conclave and the emphasis changed from the main issue. So, the world only came to know through media that Muslims had now condemned terrorism. He made it clear that the Muslim community like any other community never supported terrorism and Islam had nothing to do with terrorism. In his view, the concept of Jihad meant 'struggle' against injustice but it had been mistaken as an armed war against non-Islam.
IOS Chairman Dr M Manzoor Alam said the need was to pay attention on both sides---media and Muslim community. According to him, ignorance was, no doubt, responsible for misrepresentation of Islam in media. Therefore, it was the community's responsibility to have had a data bank on different issues related to it, he emphasized.
The guest was presented a memento to mark the 20th anniversary of IOS observed recently.