Faith in Media: Improving Coverage of Islam and Other Religions

Participants Jamila Trindle and Andreas Harsono along with Jakartan cameraman Lexy Rambadetta, interview an Ahmadiyah farmer who now lives in a refugee camp because his house was burned to the ground during a Feb. 4, 2006 attack.
(Credit: Basyiruddin Aziz)

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) organized an exciting program that paired U.S. and Muslim-World journalists for joint reporting projects on issues of importance to audiences in both places.

With support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, ICFJ held a conference in Istanbul, Turkey, called “Faith in Media: Improving Coverage of Islam and Other Religions.” Four pairs of journalists then embarked on joint reporting projects in Muslim countries and in the United States.

Each of the four pairs of journalists attended the conference in Istanbul, along with other participants from the United States and majority Muslim countries. The pairs conducted reporting together over several months. The pairs were encouraged to collaborate on the writing of the stories, but they were not required to publish or broadcast identical stories in translation.

The reporting projects are:

Morocco: Members of the Amazigh population, commonly known as Berbers, are rediscovering cultural traditions that have been suppressed because of their difference from mainstream Islam. Mustapha Ajbaili, a Moroccan journalist working for Islam Online, and Matthew Streib, contributor for the Religion News Service, will explore the resurgence of Amazigh traditions in Morocco. They’ll also travel to the U.S., where the Amazigh Cultural Association works to raise awareness of the threatened culture and faith.

Indonesia: The Ahmadi Islamic sect has been widely persecuted for being “not Muslim enough” in Indonesia and for being “too Muslim” in the U.S. Jamila Trindle, a regular contributor to National Public Radio (NPR), and Andreas Harsono, contributor for the Jakarta-based Gatra magazine, will report on the Ahmadis’ struggle.

Saudi Arabia: After 9/11, Saudi schools were criticized for curricula and textbooks that may have encouraged terrorism against the U.S. and other Western countries. Asma Al Sharif, a Saudi contributor to Arab News and Reuters, and Kelly McEvers, a regular contributor to NPR, will report on what – if anything – has changed in Saudi schools since then. Al Sharif and McEvers will also report on Saudi-sponsored schools in the U.S.

Iran: Yasmin Ghahremani, a freelance reporter based in New York, and Iranian journalist Maryam Zolfaghar, who contributes to Etemaad newspaper, will report on social/religious issues that affect both the United States and Iran.

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