Iranian, German journalists stress media role in fight against extremism
Tehran, May 17, IRNA – A media delegation from Germany, headed by Shams Ul-Haq, head of the International Relations of Deutscher Pressevertrieb (a German distributor of media products), attended a consultation meeting at the headquarters of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) in Tehran.
Chaired by IRNA Managing Director Mohammad Khodadi, the gathering was also attended by a number of the agency’s journalists and directors as well as representatives from other Iranian leading media.
Addressing the meeting, Khodadi said that the present world is suffering from a growing wave of extremism and terrorism which threatens both Eastern and Western states.
‚Terrorism and Extremism are no longer limited to the Middle East or Eastern countries. It is also felt now in the European and Western world,‘ Khodadi said.
He criticized Western media for ignoring the threat of terrorism and extremism as long as they have existed only in the regional and Middle Eastern countries.
‚For many years, people in the Middle East, Asia and generally in the Eastern world have been victims of extremism and terrorism but the Western media have ignored them as people in the Western world had not faced the problem themselves.
“It was only after the deadly terrorist attacks in France and Belgium that the Western world has noticed the problem,‘ Khodadi said.
He argued that the reason for turning a blind eye to the problem of extremism and terrorism by the West ‚is that their economic and political interests are now closely connected.
“On the one hand, they (Western states) criticize terrorism and extremism and form coalitions against terrorist groups including Daesh (ISIS), but, on the other hand, they buy oil from Daesh!‘ IRNA chief said surprisingly.
Confirming an idea made by another speaker of the meeting who had referred to the West’s double standard policy as the main cause of conflicts among Western and Eastern world, Khodadi said, ‚As long as the West continues its double standard policy, the problem of extremism and terrorism will continue and even get worse.‘
Khodadi whose comments had deeply impressed the German journalists, added, ‚In order to eliminate terrorism and extremism we need to pay due attention to their roots and not their consequences.‘
He stressed that journalists play a pivotal role in “revealing the truth regardless of the place where it happens whether it occurs in the West or East of the world.”
Khodadi added that Iran has experienced two major developments last year (the landmark nuclear deal with the Group 5+1 and the parliamentary elections). He stressed that both events had remarkable results.
“The nuclear deal has led to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and consequently, removal of anti-Iran sanctions while huge turnout of the Iranian people in the parliamentary elections has indicated legitimacy of the Islamic establishment,” the IRNA chief stressed.
He said that Iranians have never abandoned their government despite the difficult times they had experienced when the country was under heavy sanctions by Western states.
Iran and the six major world powers (US, Britain, Russia, France and China plus Germany) reached a historic nuclear agreement in July 2015 which ended more than a decade of nuclear disputes between the two sides.
The agreement also led to the removal of unilateral sanctions against Iran and accordingly, a rush by the world countries to Iran to resume their economic relations with Tehran.
Meanwhile, Head of the German delegation Shams Ul-Haq said that Iranian leaders have formulated a current foreign policy based on a look to the future.
He expressed hope that more positive changes would occur in the field of Iran’s forward-looking foreign policy leading to its more interaction with the world.
Shams Ul-Haq added that further exchange of visits between nationals of Iran and foreign countries would lead to a better mutual understanding between the two sides.
Another speaker to the meeting was Western philosophy professor, Amir Mohebbian, who said, “There is no mutual understanding between East and West regarding concepts of certain issues such as human rights, terrorism and extremism.”
“Eastern countries have their own belief and values but sometimes they are being forced by the West to accept and follow Western norms and values,” Mohebian complained.
He added, “As long as the West has no respect for the Eastern concepts and values, the two sides will experience no mutual understanding.”
Another speaker to the meeting was Jorg Lau, Foreign Editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who referred to the problem of refugees in Germany which was one of the consequences of the ongoing extremism.
According to Lau the present world is experiencing what he referred to as the “conflict within a civilization not between two civilizations.”
However, the German journalist failed to explain the roots of the so-called “conflict within a civilization”.
The fact is that the same policy of Western states to define all countries based on their own norms and values and intervene in the internal affairs of other countries is the root cause of all problems in the region.
The present situation in the Middle East which has led to displacement of many of the regional people, particularly the Syrians, is the result of foreign military interference in internal affairs of the regional countries.
Lau said that he and his colleagues at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung have tried to echo in their reports the sufferings of foreign refugees headed towards Europe.
“Germany is now full of different races and it is regarded a multicultural society and also a lot of refugees have chosen Germany as a shelter,‘ he added.
Another speaker to the meeting was Abdolrasool Vesal, a veteran Iranian journalist who said journalists should try to serve peace.
He discussed forming the “peace journalism” which would play an “essential role in removing present misunderstanding among world nations and fill the gap between them.
Vesal referred to Iran-Germany relations and said the two countries enjoyed a history of friendly ties.
“Germany played no role in Muslims colonialism,” Vesal stressed referring to the long history of certain states colonialism in Iran without naming them.
Touching upon Germany’s stance for the fight against terrorism and Iranophobia, he said that Germany has sported “a realistic policy” to this end.
Vesal noted that peace journalism can play an effective role in awakening the world public opinion.
Also discussed in the meeting was the problem of introducing the real image of Islam to the world and to separate it from extremism.
In fact it would be very difficult for a Christian to distinguish different versions of Islam made today, said one of the German journalists.
Another speaker to the meeting was Arnulf Stoffel, photographer of the German delegation who is also a specialist in air picture and electronic news-gathering.
Stoffel said his visit to Iran helped him find a better understanding of the country which was completely different from what was previously made by foreign media.
He said he found “Iran a safe place to live” and that he believes terrorism in this country is nothing but a misunderstanding.
Reporter Ali Izadi, Editor F. Safaei