1st International Media and Islamophobia Symposium has Ended

1st International Media and Islamophobia Symposium which has been held on 25-26 May 2021 at the Congresium Congress and Exhibition Center in Ankara under the theme of "Islam in the Grip of Fake News, Hate Speech and Cultural Racism" under the leadership of the Radio and Televison Supreme Council, supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Directorate of Communications of the Presidency of Turkey and with the cooperation of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, Erciyes University and the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research, has been concluded with a session on "Media and Islamophobia".

The symposium mainly focused on racism and what needs to be done to prevent hate crimes, and the symposium in which day by day the dangerously spreading causes of Islamophobia in the West and its place in media has been examined. The symposium mainly focused on racism and what needs to be done to prevent hate crimes. The symposium has began with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began on May 25th at the ATO Congresium. On May 26th The International Symposium on Media and Islamophobia came to an end with the opening speech delivered by the Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül.

During the Symposium, initially President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan then Head of Religious Affairs Ali Erbas, Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul, Vice President Fuat Oktay, Minister of Family and Social Services Derya Yanık and Turkey's leading Bureaucrats and Academics assembled and met with guests. The audience followed four different panel discussions during two days of the Symposium.

The symposium was met with great interest from both overseas and domestic participants. The first session titled “The Role of the Media in Combating Islamophobia” of the symposium was attended and moderated by the Assoc. Prof  İsmail Çağlar SETA Director of Community and Media Research moderated by Dr. Ismail Caglar.

In the first session, the concept of Islamophobia was discussed through the media and the role of the media in the fight against Islamophobia was discussed. The attendants of the first session was the General Manager of the AA Serdar Karagöz, Deputy General Manager of TRT Fatih Er, Dean of Hacı Bayram Veli University Faculty of Communication Proffessor Zakir Avşar, Mehmet Akif Ersoy from HaberTürk TV Channel and Daily Sabah Chief Editor Ibrahim Altay.

At the opening ceremony after the panel, Ebubekir Şahin gave a speech on behalf of the Executive Board as the Chairman of the Supreme Council of  Radio and Television and also as the Chairman of the Symposium Executive Committee.

Şahin commenced his speech by wishing that the symposium would be good and fruitfull occasion. Şahin stated that it is a non-negligable fact that Islamic values are under an obvious threat in the world. He strongly emphasized that the International Symposium on Media and Islamophobia was realized based on a great need about that concrete fact.

After President Şahin, Head of Religious Affairs Ali Erbas and Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy gave a speech consecutively. The opening ceremony was held with the honoring presence of the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In his opening speech in ceremony, President Erdogan made an analogy about the rapidly growing Islamophobia in the West just as the cancer cells spreading rapidly. President Erdogan made important statements, noting that today's wave of islamophobia is carried out in much more insidious and implicit ways. After his speech, Erdoğan also congratulated those who contributed to the organization and had his pictures taken with the participants.

At the end of the opening ceremony, President Erdoğan was presented with a Painting which symbolizes a historical meaning by President Şahin. The Painting  has the piece of petition ( arzuhal) offered to the Emperor by a Jewish citizen during the Ottoman Empire. Following the presentation of the gift , the panel titled : "International Solidarity Against Islamophobia" which was also the last session of the day, was moderated by RTUK Vice President Ibrahim Uslu.

Palestinian Ankara Ambassador Faed Mustafa was also among the attendants. As a speaker at the symposium, The President of Yunus Emre Institute Prof. Dr. Şeref Ateş, Vice President of Communications Dr. Çağatay Özdemir, SETA General Coordinator Prof.Dr. Burhanettin Duran was joined by Marghoob Saleem Butt, Executive Director of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The second day of the symposium  has been initiated by the Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül's opening speech on “Islamophobia as a Violation of Human Rights and Hate Crime”.

“We will make new regulations on the Turkish Criminal Law concerning discrimination and hate crimes and we will also generate investigative guidelines so as to effectively fight against these crimes.” Minister Gül mentioned in his opening remarks.

After the speech of Minister Gül, the 3rd session of the symposium has been started under the moderation of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, General Manager of Religious Publications Dr. Fatih Kurt. The Principle clerk of the Presidency and Ambassador Associated Prof Hasan Doğan, Ombudsman Şeref Malkoç, Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University Professor Özcan Kheder discussed the topic "Human Rights Violation and Islamophobia as a Hate Crime". In the fourth and last session of the Symposium entitled "Islamophobia in the Turkish Press" was discussed under the moderation of Prof. Dr. Yusuf Tekin, Rector of Haci Bayram University. The panelists of the last session were Fuat Uğur, a Turkish Newspaper writer, Hilal Kaplan, editor-in-chief of Yeni Şafak Newspaper, Murat Cicek, Editor-in-Chief of 24 TV Channel, and Resul Serdar ATAŞ of Al Jazeera.The Symposium has accomplishedly  covered all aspects of Islamophobia. On the first day of the Symposium, Islamophobia in the context of discrimination, prejudice and hate crimes, the phenomenon of migration, refugees and Islamophobic perceptions, the rise of the far right in Western societies, the socio-political context of Islamophobic prejudices, public discourse and Islamophobia, anti-Muslim hate speech in new media, fake news and Islamophobia were thoroughly discussed.

On the second day of the 1st International Symposium on Media and Islamophobia, media organizations and the Islamophobia industry, manipulation of religious knowledge and concepts, construction of Muslim identity in the media and normalization of stereotypes, humor and Islamophobic stereotypes, Islamophobic appearances on social media, digital games and Islamophobia, cultural racism and Islamophobia, investigation of Islamic norm values in the media, orientalism/self-orientalism and Islamophobia, Western, Islam and other problems, Islamophobia, assimilation, multiculturalism and Muslim identity in non-Western societies topics were too thoroughly discussed.

President Şahin ended the symposium by expressing his sincere thanks all the participants.