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Clash of Ignorances

March 6, 2010

This morning, while following the live webcast of “Contribution to a Euro-Mediterranean Intercultural Strategy: The Role of Anna Lindh Foundation” at Forum 2010 in Spain, I got back to our experience in Alexandria.

Many of the topics we discussed during the Conference, are being discussed at the Anna Lindh Forum and on its blog too: cross-cultural and cross-religious dialogue, social media, diversity and cultural interaction, human rights and democracy.

As often happens in these cases, the mixture of different cultures, experiences and backgrounds leads to a shift of perspective and what is usually called “clash of civilizations” can turn into “clash of ignorances”. The unexpected expression used by Ali Moussa Iye from UNESCO, made me think of the role of journalists and the power of knowledge.

As journalists, we can shape perceptions and if words are journalists’ main tools and can be used as weapons, knowledge is the the key to challenge stereotypes and the risk of misleading information. It means going beyond the flow of info and images, especially when covering sensitive topics such as religious issues, getting more aknowledged on the topic and give background informations.

I believe knowledge is one of the fundamental elements actually making journalists the key to open dialogue, in a time when public opinion on “the other” is getting worse and worse.

And, as Anat Lapidot from Van Leer Institute-Israel said, “we should be critical but understanding, we should not be ignorant”.

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