||Media Review Network (MRN)
|Address: P.O. Box 14391, Laudium
Country: South Africa
Postal Code: 0037
Phone Number: 27-12-374-0326 or 374-1635
Fax Number: +27-12-374-2073
Not since Pope Urban II called the first crusade in 1095 to "exterminate the enemies of God", describing his Muslim adversaries as "this vile race", has there been such an explosion of invective against Islam. This hostile anti-Islam propaganda has apart from remaining insidious, begun to manifest itself in various guises.
The foremost means for this denigration and assault upon Islam has been the various instruments of the mass media. The media has been turned into a battleground against Islam and Muslims. It is not without reason that a French scholar Henry Gobard has distinguished three kinds of warfare. The first is he classical war, its object is to wound and conquer – it is aimed at the heart. The second is the economic war. Its object is to exploit and enrich – it is aimed at the stomach. The third kind is the cultural war, whose target is the head – its object is to paralyse. It seeks to conquer through the putrescence of the object under attack and to enrich itself through the decomposition of cultures and people.
Most Muslim scholars and especially the global Islamic Movement are agreed on the fact that demonisation and denigration of Islam has intensified in the recent past. The entire spectrum that mass communication comprises, including cinema, theatre, broadcast and literature has powerful elements of anti-Muslim propaganda. In addition to the monopoly of thought-control, the hostile ideas generated against Islam and it’s values impacts negatively against it.
The significance of public opinion cannot be treated lightly. It is known that effective manipulation of public opinion can successfully install or topple governments. The opinion formers are carefully selected individuals who appear to have allegiance only to a form of liberalism which in turn is defined by them and which does not permit any sympathy for Islam.
Muslims, especially in minority situations, are disadvantaged by virtue of the fact that not only do they wield any significant influence within the mass media; in addition their limited roles are marginalised. The status quo, if allowed to continue, will certainly make huge inroads in the undermining of Isalm.
Muslims in South Africa have ably demonstrated their ability to organise and through harnessing their human and financial resources, have established an admirable network of mosques, madressahs, da’wah and welfare institutions – and a host of major centres of higher learning which include colleges and Darul Ulooms.
These vital infrastructures enabled Muslims in South Africa to participate most effectively in the common struggle against racism and the inhumane apartheid ideology. The challenge to oppression and injustice has always been met by the Muslim Ummah. Their collective consciousness and Taw’akkul and Justice has not been found wanting.
Thus the need to formally establish the Media Review Network as a structured operation to meet the challenges posed by a sophisticated mass communication system, is a necessity for Islam in South Africa.
1.2 Introduction to the Media Review Network
There are more than 1 million Muslims living in South Africa. In the past, and on an on-going basis, the mainstream media has defined who we are and what we represent for the general South – African public. Our views and opinions, our policy positions and strategic interests have always either been ignored or deliberately distorted.
The Media Review Network, through a loose informal grouping of individuals and in association with the Islamic Research Centre, considered it imperative in the rapidly changing socio-political landscape of the new South Africa, to ensure that the dynamism of Islam not to be lost in the maze of perverse innuendos. As Muslims, we need to have our opinions and insights heard on a daily basis as a matter of routine, rather than as an exception.
The aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding. Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans is a prerequisite to a better understanding and appreciation of Islam.
The inter-action with organs of the media can no longer remain a marginal activity by a handful of individuals. A full time base with skilled personnel manning specific designated media desks has become a necessity. The Media Review Network, given its brief experience and the commitment of its members and as a result of gracious donors, is well placed to spearhead the task of setting up a full time operation.
The establishment of a permanent Media Desk, is an important milestone in the shortspan of the Media Review Network. In pleasant surroundings and with access to first – rate technology, the Media desk will Inshallah be adequately equipped to vigorously persue its goals as set out in the aims and objectives of the Media Review Network.
1.3 Aims and objectives of the Media Review Network
To monitor, analyse, dissect and evaluate distortions fabrications and double standards in the mass media;
To research the impact on Islam caused by such misrepresentations and publish its findings on an on-going basis;
To arouse curiosity, inquiry, research and interest in Isalm;
To counter the onslaught of Islam, it’s norms and values;
To identify and nullify certain stereotypes e.g.: "terrorists", "fundamentalists", "radicals", "fanatics", etc.
To express alternate perspectives and policy positions on local and international issues;
To be proactive in respect to projecting and promoting Islam;
To establish rapport with journalists, editors and key opinion formers;
To source appropriately qualified and articulate spokes-persons to represent Muslims on radio and TV; and to widen the network of informed Muslims to address the print media;
To hold seminars and workshops on information gathering and dissemination;
To promote the training of committed Muslims in the specialised fields of communication/journalism;
To establish an effective network of co-operation with Muslims engaged in the publication of Islamic Magazines, periodicals, newspapers and with those engaged in community Islamic radio stations.
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