Media & Religion programme: Second seminar in Egypt

A second Media & Religion seminar was held in Cairo, Egypt over the period 19-25 March 2011. It gathered together the Egyptian, Sudanese and Swiss journalists who were invited to the previous seminar in Switzerland. They met religious and media actors, as well as various leading politico-religious figures who played a key role during the Egyptian revolution. These visits were supplemented by an analysis by Egyptian intellectuals and activists of the religious dimension and its place in the post-revolution context.

The seminar was an opportunity to discover the main Islamic and Islamist currents in contemporary Egypt – notably the Salafists and Muslim Brothers – and to understand the trends affecting them. It also allowed the participants to visit unmissable places like Al-Azhar University and to tackle the Coptic issue in Egypt. During this week of presentations, there was also a talk on the media’s coverage of religions by staff of various editorial offices like the important website of information about Islam,, or the Salafist TV channel Al-Rahma.
Currently, the next phase of the Media & Religion programme is being discussed. More information will be available this summer.

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.