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Introduction - Dr. Bala Muhammad, Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano

True – there have been many workshops for journalists in the North East, but this was a special one on how media workers on the frontline of conflict can respond intelligently to extremist discourse from an informed Islamic perspective.

Peacebuilding is a global concept defined by the UN as: “Aiming to reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into violent conflict by strengthening the capacities at all levels for conflict management, and to lay the foundation for sustainable peace and development.” Journalists are very important – they are relied upon by citizens for explanation, interpretation and analysis of situation. The aim of the training was, therefore, to strengthen journalists’ capacity in intelligently responding to extremist messaging which could easily sway the vulnerable and the uninformed.

Workshop and Reactions – Dar Al Andalus Centre, Kano

DarAndalusCenter 092020As part of our efforts to ensure a violent conflict-free and peaceful society through alternative narratives, Dar Al Andalus Centre (DAAC), in collaboration with Development Initiative of West Africa (DIWA), held a two-day workshop on “Shari’a Intelligence, Constructive Alternative Narratives and Ethical Journalism for Journalists in the North East,” which took place from Tuesday 1 – Wednesday 2 September, 2020 in Maiduguri.

A total of 45 journalists – comprising TV, radio, print, and online – were invited from Borno, Yobe and Bauchi states to attend the workshop and over 40 participated.

The workshop addressed 4 key themes, namely:

  • Constructive Alternative Narratives
  • Shari’a Intelligence
  • Ethical Journalism
  • Peace and Humanitarian Journalism

Constructive Alternative Narratives

This topic uses the theme of the newly published DAAC book titled “Jihad Against Extremism and Violence: Alternatives to the Discourses of Extremist Groups” written by a group of Islamic scholars. The two-part session addresses the contemporary issues spread among some youths in Nigeria. It attempts to clarify all the cloudy areas around the faulty translation and interpretations of some texts from the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that are used in justifying violence. It uses orthodox methodologies to clear misconceptions and misinterpretations around the texts usually quoted out of context.

Shari’a Intelligence

How does a person detect and recognise misdirection and faulty fatwas (religious verdicts)? This topic exposes participants to the basics of Usul (foundation of Islamic jurisprudence) and Maqasid (ultimate objectives of Islamic laws) as the critical thinking tools in the field of Islamic law and its application.

Ethical Journalism

Publicity is the oxygen of terrorist groups – the more spotlight they receive, the stronger they become! This session discussed two distinct but intertwined topics on media ethics: the challenges of reporting terrorism and how to avoid stereotyping in reporting. Media, by design, is where the public forms their positive or negative opinions on a particular group of people.

Peace and Humanitarian Journalism

Professional journalism is distant and cold! But to build peace in a conflict-stricken environment, journalism will have to take a humanitarian approach where the insurgents are suffocated, and the victims are given a voice. This topic discusses the approaches journalist can take to facilitate the return of peace. This is the first workshop for journalists of its kind, and we hope to continue with similar workshops in the future.

Participants’ Testimonies

“This is to remind us that this workshop is of great benefit to us in Borno and Yobe, as such we should utilize all that we have learnt for the benefits of our people. We need peace and bridges among the different faiths that God has given us, and this workshop has given us literature that will help us to achieve peace. The resource persons were passionate about positive change in narrative about the people and their religion. It is our duty to keep in touch with them for a greater Borno and Yobe. We should endeavor to attend their future workshop at our own expenses because they have a lot to offer. It is a rare opportunity that you cannot find anywhere. The effort of the chairman should not be in vain and as such we should engage him via telephone in some of our programmes be it News, Current Affairs or Programmes. Finally, may I personally thank the chairman, the resource persons and the organising committee for imparting their wealth of knowledge with us. I will cherish this workshop. May I conclude by a quote from Richard Nixon former President of USA, who said: the greatest honour history can bestow on an individual, is the title of a Peace Maker. Good Night.” (Tigad)

“We are indeed very grateful to the organisers and resource persons as we go back to our organisations with refreshed memories.” (Abubakar)

“Thank you, organisers, for reshaping our knowledge. It is my suggestion that you will consider organising an advanced version.” (Umar)