Middle East's image abroad to be examined at Arab Media Forum in Dubai

The panel will be moderated by Faisal Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News (top left). Speakers will include (clockwise from top right): Hadley Gamble, Nathan Tek and Mark Donfried.
Updated 01 May 2017
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Middle East's image abroad to be examined at Arab Media Forum in Dubai

JEDDAH: A high-profile media forum to be held in Dubai next week will feature an Arab News panel discussion examining the region’s image abroad.
The Arab Media Forum (AMF), to be held on May 1-2 at the Madinat Jumeirah, is expected to attract prominent international media figures from the Middle East and beyond.
A report titled “The Arab Image in the US” will be unveiled at the event. It is based on an exclusive survey of how the American public views the Arab world, conducted in partnership between Arab News, the Dubai Press Club and research and polling specialist YouGov.
The topic will be discussed during an Arab News panel session featuring: Nathan Tek, US State Department spokesman in the Middle East; Mark Donfried, director of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin; and Hadley Gamble, a reporter and anchor for CNBC covering the Middle East, Africa and US politics.
Faisal Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News, will be moderating the session, which will be held on the second day of the forum.
Promoting civil dialogue
The Dubai Press Club this week revealed the wider agenda for the 16th edition of AMF, which is to be held around the theme “civil dialogue.”
Prominent media leaders, scholars, writers and media experts are set to gather and discuss the importance of dialogue in highlighting peaceful coexistence, tolerance and mutual respect — as well as in condemning racism, hatred and prejudice.
Mona Ghanim Al-Marri, president of Dubai Press Club (DPC) and chair of the AMF Organizing Committee, said that the Arab Media Forum since its inception has had a focus on promoting constructive dialogue.
She noted that this become more important given the regional complexities, for which some people blame the media.
The forum attempts to correct misconceptions about the media and explore ways in which the industry can effectively face the growing challenges in the Arab world and promote a civil dialogue based on respecting pluralism and different ideologies.
Keynote speaker
This year’s AMF is expected to attract over 3,000 participants and experts in the media industry. The UAE’s Minister of State for Tolerance Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al-Qasimi will be presenting the keynote address at the opening plenary session on the second day.
Noura Al-Kaabi, minister of state for Federal National Council affairs and chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Media Zone Authority, will present a panel session on “Constructive Dialogue,” while Minister of State for Youth Affairs Shamma Al-Mazrui will be launching a media initiative for Arab youth.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World, will speak at a panel discussion titled “The Silk Road”. The session — moderated by Nadine Hani, business news presenter at the Al Arabiya News Channel — will address the role of business in enriching civil dialogue between nations.
International media figures will also be partaking at the annual event, including Richard Buangan, managing director for international media at the US Department of State, who will be talking during a session titled “Successful Political Dialogue.”
Alex Aiken, the UK executive director of government communications, will speak at AMF about the “Dialogue of Tolerance.”


Sri Lanka abusing UN law to make arrests: rights group

Updated 17 June 2019
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Sri Lanka abusing UN law to make arrests: rights group

  • Police attempted to arrest a journalist for his writing on anti-Muslim riots and Buddhist extremists using the UN-backed law
  • Police have also drawn criticism over the detention of a Muslim woman during anti-Muslim riots last month

COLOMBO: Media activists on Monday accused Sri Lankan police of using a UN convention on hate speech to crack down on media freedom and the country’s Muslim minority.
The Free Media Movement rights group said the police Special Task Force (STF) attempted to arrest a respected journalist for his writing on anti-Muslim riots and Buddhist extremists using the UN-backed law.
The STF told a magistrate on Friday they were pursuing freelance writer Kusal Perera under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act.
“The Free Media Movement strongly condemns the attempts to pursue legal action under the provisions of the ICCPR Act and urges all responsible stakeholders to draw their attention to avoid using the law unfairly,” the group said.
Police have also drawn criticism over the detention of a Muslim woman during anti-Muslim riots last month. She was wearing a T-shirt with a print of a ship’s steering wheel which police mistook for the Dharma Chakra, a Buddhist symbol.
The woman was held in remand custody for three weeks before a senior police officer intervened to press for her release.
Award winning author and poet Shakthika Sathkumara has been held since April under the ICCPR act for his work hinting at homosexuality among the Buddhist clergy.
A senior police source told AFP separate investigations had been launched into the three cases.
“We feel that police exceeded their authority in using the ICCPR and we will take action against those responsible,” the officer said, asking not to be named.
The leftist People’s Liberation Front (JVP) party said police have arbitrarily detained several Muslim men and women since the Easter Sunday attacks that killed 258 people.
The suicide bombings on three churches and three hotels were blamed on local Muslim militants.
Anti-Muslim riots after the April 21 bombings left one Muslim man dead and hundreds of Muslim-owned businesses, homes, vehicles and mosques wrecked.
Sri Lankan authorities are very sensitive to perceived insults to Buddhism, the majority religion.
However Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court in 2017 awarded 900,000 rupees ($5,000) in damages to a woman who police detained for four days for having a Buddha tattooed on her arm.