The International Federation of Journalists, the world’s largest journalists’ group has welcomed the introduction of the Journalists Association of the UAE into the global journalists’ community calling it an important step towards bringing the “authentic voice of Arab journalism” into debates about the future of journalism around the world.
“At a time of increasing uncertainty and conflict and where media play an increasingly powerful role, we have never had a greater need for independent and ethical journalism,” said White, speaking at the launch of a global day of action in support of Iraqi journalists in Dubai today. “It is time for our Arab colleagues to play a more active and decisive role in the affairs of journalists worldwide and the presence of the journalists from the UAE in the IFJ is welcome evidence that journalism in this region is on the move.”
White, who met with leading media leaders, leading editors and officers of the Journalists’ Association during his visit to the UAE this weekend, thanked the Association for its leadership in supporting the global campaign to assist Iraqi journalists.
He also welcomed the offer of the Association to support the publication of an international investigation into killings of journalists. Other agreements concerned improving co-operation among IFJ unions in the Middle East and support for the IFJ Congress in Moscow next year when a special debate will focus on how journalists can promote better understanding between cultures.
“Today there are many unscrupulous politicians and extremist groups who want to recruit media to foment hatred and mistrust between different communities and cultures,” said White. “Media must make sure they don’t become instruments of propaganda. We have a duty to promote a respectful dialogue between colleagues from different traditions.”
The need for such a dialogue was clear he said after the controversy over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed earlier this year and had been reinforced in recent days by the jailing of journalists in Jordan and Iran.
“Jailing journalists solves nothing, but it does create fear, uncertainty and censorship,” said White. “I’m very impressed by the commitment of UAE journalists to take up the challenge of dialogue and to defend professional principles and free expression.”
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries