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Five Insights

February 16, 2010

Here are five things I’ve picked up at the conference thus far:

1. We need a better vocabulary to define what we now call the Muslim and Western worlds. These concepts mask the variety of views among Muslims and discount the values we all share.

2. Indonesia may enact a ministerial regulation that would limit freedom of expression on the Internet. The government is putting together a “multimedia content team” that may act as censors. Bloggers and journalists are resisting.

3. Distance-learning courses for women journalists with families in the Middle East are the perfect way to raise skills without disrupting home life. One Egyptian participant living in Saudi Arabia said our online course “changed my life.”

4. One speaker said a Gallup poll showed that “only” 34% of the people in the Muslim world had their political views change as a result of a media report. That sounded very powerful to me. What other group could change minds and influence behavior that way? A strong argument for the importance of independent media.

5. The Alexandria Library truly lives us to its reputation as a home of intellectual sharing. It’s tradition of tolerance and global scholarhship lives on. Our group could not be more respectful of one another, despite the potential for acute political differences.

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