Media & Religion programme: First seminar in Switzerland

The first seminar of the Media & Religion programme was held in Switzerland over the period 21–27 November 2010. It gathered together about twenty Swiss, Sudanese and Egyptian journalists. The group went to various cities in the French- and German-speaking parts of Switzerland to visit places of worship and editorial offices and meet a range of religious actors, specialists and media professionals.

The main goal of this week of presentations, debates, visits and encounters was to make the diversity and complexity of the religious landscape in Europe visible through particularly revealing Swiss examples. The participants thus had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of religious manifestations and also to reflect on various dimensions of the media’s coverage of religions.

Berne: Yearly conference of Political Division IV of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On October 14, 2010 the Political Affairs Division IV of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized its annual conference in Bern on the issue of “When Religions and Worldview Meet”. Various figures from Switzerland and abroad participated in the conference. Nagwan el Ashwal, Media & Religion project manager in Egypt, was invited to participate in one of the conference workshops as a researcher on Image Studies. The workshop focused on the power of the media and was attended by researchers and actors with specialized knowledge of the topic. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the contribution of the media to peaceful coexistence at a time when societies are increasingly confronted with religious and cultural pluralism.

In her presentation, Nagwan el Ashwal discussed the image of Europe in Egypt through her paper on the topic. She also discussed the media’s coverage of Islam in Switzerland.

Qatar: Conference on Peace Journalism

On October 2, 2010 the Media & Religion programme coordinator participated in a workshop on Peace Journalism held in Doha, Qatar and organized by the Aljazeera Center for Studies and the Cordoba Foundation.

During a conference workshop, a panel of international experts addressed the theoretical aspects and practical issues related to peace journalism and discussed how the media should cover ongoing conflicts. Professor Johan Galtung, the founder of Peace Studies, was present and presented his latest book entitled Reporting Conflict: New Directions in Peace Journalism.

Marie-Laure Schick, the Media & Religion programme coordinator, was invited to make a presentation on the Media & Religion programme.

USA: Conference of the Religion Newswriters Association

The Religion Newswriters Association (RNA), a charitable and educational organization whose purpose is to promote excellence in media coverage and public discourse about religion, organized its 61st RNA Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, on September 23–25, 2010. The Media & Religion programme coordinator attended the conference, together with 190 other people (members, exhibitors and speakers).

This trip was in line with the continuation of a process of reflection on the conception of the Media & Religion programme and of the first seminar, which is to take place in November 2010 in Switzerland.

Egypt: Visit of Marie-Laure Schick

In June 2010, Marie-Laure Schick, the Media & Religion programme coordinator, met with her colleague Nagwan el Ashwal in Egypt in order to work on the planning for the seminars organized within the framework of the Media & Religion programme.

The first two seminars of the Media & Religion programme, for which the two coordinators are responsible, are to take place in Switzerland and Egypt between 2010 and 2011. They discussed various issues concerning the methodology of the seminars and the main topics that would be discussed.

The trip also allowed Marie-Laure Schick to visit several places of worship in Cairo, as well as to meet religious and political leaders such as Samir Morcos, Gorge Ishaq and Hesham Gaafar.