The Muslim World League (MWL) issued on Thursday a "code of honor" for media institutions and journalists in the Muslim world, calling on them to spread news with an Islamic ethic while countering biased reports against Muslims and Islam.
This Islamic ethic includes honesty in news reporting and "avoiding all forms of incitement to violence." This general ethic is applied to a broad range of duties and responsibilities that a Muslim journalist is supposed to carry out.
The code of honor was presented during the closing ceremony of the Second International Conference on Islamic Media held in Jakarta, which raised the theme "New Media and Communication Technology in the Muslim World: Opportunity and Challenge". The code of honor comes as a result of the conference's recommendations.
"The conference recommends the issuance of a code of honor for communication and information media according to the attached draft and circulation of it among ministries of information and media institutions in the Muslim world,â conference participant Mohammed Musa said as he read out recommendations from the three-day conference.
"[The conference also] stresses the need to adhere to [the code of honor] when issuing national media codes, as well as codes for media institutions," said Musa, who is a communications professor at New Zealand's University of Canterbury.
The code of honor is divided into four sections:
(1) general principles and objectivesIn the "general principles and objectives" section, the code calls on Muslim media figures âto affirm a belief in the moral principles and values of Islam, to safeguard the Islamic identity from the negative effects of globalization and westernization and to ensure freedom that is responsible and disciplined by sharia guidelines.â
(4) duties of Muslim media professionals
In the "rights" section, the code guarantees the right of expression (but still within the limits of sharia law, which it however does not delimit), the right to access information and the right for a good working environment to support journalists' work performance.
The third section calls on media figures in the Muslim world to, "take care of Islam's heritage, history and civilization, and also of the Arabic language as the language of the Koran and prayers, and confront atheism and all other anti-Islam tendencies that spread hatred against Islam and Muslims".
The fourth section details calls for "support for Muslim peoples in their efforts to resist oppression and occupations" and to adhere to general principles in a journalistic universal code of ethics, such as "refraining from publishing and broadcasting all forms of incitement to violence, keeping away from the fabrication of events and verifying the news and being honest in its reporting".
Parni Hadi, former chief of Antara news agency, said freedom of expression, independence and objectivity are prerequisites for Islamic journalism to give optimal results. He emphasized that Muslim journalists should work for world peace, justice, and economic and social well being as well as to create an atmosphere for people to achieve mental peace.
Spelling out his experience in the field, he said democracy is a basic requirement for journalism to thrive. He said while he was working for Antara, he had faced a lot of difficulties from governments of different countries.
"We should enhance people-to-people contact to progress in the media," he said while talking about the growing influence of the social media.
Organized jointly by the MWL and the Indonesian Religious Affairs Ministry, the Jakarta conference drew hundreds of participants, including academics and media practitioners from dozens of Muslim countries, as well as representatives from Islamic organizations in non-Muslim majority nations.
Erwida Maulia, "League issues code of honor' for Muslim journalists" Jakarta Post December 15, 2011
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, "Muslim journalists urged to apply Prophet's principles" Arab News December 14, 2011
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today