KAICIID and Arigatou International GNRC Host Debate on Media Impact on Interreligious Relations

17 November 2014

Panel of Journalists, Religious Leaders, Policymakers discuss how media and religious leaders can strengthen reporting on religion

NAIROBI, 17 November 2014 – Leading experts on the media and religion, as well as policymakers, met today in Nairobi to discuss the role of the media in strengthening relations between different religious communities.

The discussion took place at a public debate hosted by the KAICIID Dialogue Centre and Arigatou International/Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC). The panellists were Farah Maalim Mohammed, former Deputy Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly; Agnes Aboum, President of the World Council of Churches; Mwenda Njoka, spokesman in the Office of the President, Interior and Coordination Ministry; Ibrahim Lethome, represented Muslims in Kenya as a Commissioner in the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC) that drew up the new constitution for the country; David Makali, leading journalist and former managing editor of The Standard; and Mike Waltner, Head of Initiatives at KAICIID. The panel was moderated by Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, GNRC Secretary General and conflict resolution expert.

“One of the key drivers of conflict in Kenya is the dimension of community identities tied with recent sharp rise in interreligious conflicts. Recent killings of clerics and targeting of places of worship mainly in several cities in Kenya, especially in the port city of Mombasa, have tested the nation’s interfaith relations to the limit. With this panel discussion, we hope to discuss the importance of the media: either as instigators of conflict, or messengers of peace, or perhaps both,” said Dr. Ali.

He further added, “We also wanted to discuss how religious leaders could work with the media to positively influence how religious communities relate to each other.”

Mike Waltner, Head of Initiatives at KAICIID, said: “In many parts of the world, it seems as if all we hear about are voices of hate, using the media as a vehicle, and religion as a pretext for violence and prejudice.”

Waltner emphasised “Through the Dialogue Days events, KAICIID wants to highlight that religion is an instrument of peace, and that throughout the world, people continue to engage with each other peacefully through dialogue. We want to bring these messages of peace to the forefront, and help religious leaders and dialogue practitioners use the media and social media to tell their stories of peace. These stories have never been more needed than today.”

The panel discussion was attended by over 100 select invitees from the fields of religious leadership, policy, academia and the media.

KAICIID has teamed with Arigatou International GNRC to engage policy makers, religious leaders, academics and media experts for this timely and important discussion about media and interreligious relations in Kenya. The panel discussion took place during four days of Dialogue Days activities in Nairobi. KAICIID also hosted two intensive training courses: a three-day class for religious leaders on critical media skills and a two-day course for interreligious dialogue practitioners on social media and communications.

The KAICIID Dialogue Centre in Vienna, Austria was founded in 2012 as an intergovernmental interreligious organization. Today, the Centre actively creates opportunities for the world’s religions and cultures to work together, through a varied range of channels, including dialogue conferences and education programmes.

The Arigatou International GNRC is a global-scale interfaith network of religious and Faith inspired organizations, people of faith and goodwill working to build world peace and justice for all with and for children. Founded in 2000 in Tokyo Japan, the GNRC secretariat is located in Nairobi, Kenya.