INTERVIEW - Arab media strategy targets youth to combat terrorism and extremism: Bahrain information minister

Hany Farouk, Tuesday 11 Oct 2022

Ahram Onlike spoke with Dr. Ramzan bin Abdullah Al-Nuaimi, Bahrain’s minister of information affairs, who talked about the role of Arab media in confronting terrorism and extremism in the region, emphasising the importance of targetting youth.

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Al-Nuaimi spoke with Ahram Online following The Council of Arab Information Ministers and the Standing Committee for Arab Media’s annual meeting in Cairo in September.

The meeting was attended by 13 presidents, ministers and senior officials from Arab media organisations in a display of participation unprecedented for many years.

During the meeting, the minsters discussed many important topics including Arab media strategy, the Arab Committee for Electronic Media, the role of the Arab media in addressing terrorism, as well as the Arab media map for sustainable development.

Ahram Online: Tell us about the importance of cooperation between information ministers through the Arab League, especially in light of the Arab ministerial meeting that you participated in recently. What is the importance of joint coordination in light of the extremely sensitive stage the world is going through?

Ramzan bin Abdullah Al-Nuaimi: Without a doubt, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's speech during his meeting with us, the Arab ministers of information, served as a beacon for the joint Arab action system.

During the ministerial meeting, I was keen to emphasise the role of the League of Arab States in consolidating common brotherly ties and supporting our just Arab causes, especially in the media field, which is witnessing a number of common challenges that require a unified and serious stance and a common collective vision.

The meeting was fruitful and resulted in a set of initiatives aimed at evaluating the course of the Arab media. It renewed our position calling for stopping the foreign media discourse on the culture of our Arab societies, which still lurks in our countries and peoples. This requires balanced thinking and unified and collective approaches that put the country above all considerations.

We reviewed all the items on the meeting's agenda, including the media honour charter, the Arab media strategy, the Arab media map for sustainable development and others. We also stressed the importance of continuous coordination between our countries in the field of electronic media.

AO: In your opinion, what is the importance of strengthening the Arab media strategy to combat terrorism and extremism?

RAN: This strategy was formulated in light of several reasons and in the context of international efforts to combat terrorism and extremist ideology. Our Arab region has suffered from the penetration of this ideology through terrorist organisations that promote their destructive ideas.

This strategy is an ambitious roadmap that seeks to unify the efforts of the Arab media in confronting extremist ideas and educating Arab public opinion about the importance of Arab interdependence, especially among the youth, which is the largest proportion of the citizens of Arab countries. The strategy targets them directly, as it calls for protecting young people from the dangers of modern technologies. [It includes] programs and initiatives that seek to achieve the objectives of this strategy in cooperation with all Arab countries.

We believe that media and responsibility are two sides of the same coin, and when professional and moral responsibility is absent, the media will turn from a national weapon for construction, development and education, into a shovel that destroys ideas, values ​​and societies.

[Our objective was] to come up with practical and constructive work mechanisms and proposals that would enable Arab media to play its national role to the fullest, consolidate awareness of Arab and Islamic values ​​and constants in the conscience of our peoples and revive the feeling of belonging to our just Arab causes, foremost of which is the Palestinian cause.

AO: What about media cooperation between Egypt and the Kingdom of Bahrain in light of the protocols and agreements signed between them?

RAN: Since the signing of the first agreement in the media and cultural affairs between the two brotherly countries in 1987, many agreements and protocols have followed, including the signing of a protocol for cooperation in the media field during the official visit of King Hamad bin Isa at the invitation of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in 2016.

Egypt has long-standing institutions that we are proud to communicate with and exchange experiences and knowledge with, including the prestigious Al-Ahram Foundation, an institution that occupies a great position in the [view of Bahrain’s] King Hamad. This was embodied when we received a delegation from the Foundation on 5 March 2018. We are interested and keen to create more opportunities for cooperation with various official and private Egyptian media institutions.

AO: Bahrain will witness the holding of parliamentary and municipal elections in the coming days. How have you prepared for this event?

RAN: The democratic process in Bahrain and parliamentary life is progressing at a steady pace, and the regularity of the elections according to their dates is evidence of that. Throughout Bahrain’s more than 230 year history, the Shura was an approach to the relationship between the ruler and the people, and the voice of the people was and still is an important factor in national decision-making, which has been framed and preserved within the institutions of the modern Bahraini state.

We proudly recall the participation of Bahraini women in all popular elections, leading to a woman becoming the head of the legislative authority in 2018.

As for the preparations, I can say here that all the constitutional institutions are working to make this great national event a success, and there is a popular enthusiasm that we saw from the citizens with the first stages of the elections represented in putting up the voters' lists.

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