The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) today called for journalists to play their part in keeping the peace in
India where there are fears of community violence in a long-running religious
Some 200,000 Indian army and security
personnel have been put on alert with fears of violence between Hindus and
Muslims over a court decision on a holy site in the pilgrim town of Ayodhya,
Uttar Pradesh, which is claimed by both communities.
"Journalists and media must play their part in
resisting the forces of violence by deploying the highest standards of
tolerance and ethics in reporting this issue," said Aidan White, IFJ General
Secretary. "This is no time for ill-judged and hateful commentary but for good
reporting and reflection on ways of building better understanding between the
Journalists and media workers unions from 25
countries, represented by the IFJ and Union Network International, attending a
regional meeting in Bali, Indonesia, also added their voices to calls for peace
in the region.
"Indian media must lead the demands for
tolerant and peaceful means to resolve this dispute," said Suresh Akhouri, President
of the Indian Journalists' Union. "My
country has suffered enough from internal violence. Journalists must help build
the peace and avoid provocation by maintaining professional balance."
Akhouri also called on the IFJ to organise a
meeting on ethical responsibility of journalists in Delhi as soon as possible.
"This is a serious moment and we must alert journalists to the dangers of media
taking sides," he said.
The Allahabad High Court has ruled on
ownership of land where Hindu mobs tore down a 16th Century mosque in 1992,
some of them claiming that the site is the birthplace of their God, Ram. Hindu
leaders say they want to build a temple there.
But the destruction of the mosque prompted
some of the worst rioting between Hindus and Muslims since the division of
India in 1947 and led to violence in which thousands of people on both sides of
the religious divide were killed.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32
2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 125 countries