Journalists from Asia gather for global IARJ conference in Jakarta, Indonesia

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IARJ contributing editor Larbi Megari reports on the opening of the 2017 global conference of the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ). Gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia, the IARJ is working toward one of its founding missions: holding annual gatherings on all of the world’s major continents. In Jakarta, participants are discussing the enormous challenges journalists are facing today—and the IARJ is planning for its future outreach.

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Global Plus: Sharia

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For hundreds of millions of Muslims, Sharia is a way or a path to divine understanding that enables human beings to reach their full potential. So why does so much public conversation about “sharia” or “sharia law” focus on extreme interpretations grounded in intolerance and ignorance? The answers are complex, involving historical, political, cultural, regional and religious factors that need to be understood in context. Yet complexity and reason are often dangerously absent amid the emotion and politics attached to Sharia.

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Global Plus: The nonreligious in the world today

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Who are the nonreligious? Depending on how they are counted, the nonreligious today may be considered the world’s third largest ‘religion,’ trailing only Christianity and Islam. They exercise an increasingly influential voice on issues from the immigration crisis in Europe to secular-religious tensions in Asia Pacific. Now a developing body of research is shedding critical light on the diversity and complexity of this group in an age when the makeup and balance of religious and nonreligious populations, along with their shared history, matters in ways both small and large.

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Journalism Spotlight: Can good journalism on religion contribute to peace?

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Nigerian journalist Odinga Adiwu writes about the role journalists who specialize in reporting on religion can play in the overall search for peace in the midst of the world’s diversity. The journalist’s goal of reporting fair, accurate and balanced accounts ultimately can help to break down dangerous stereotypes and work against the rise of hate speech in the world.

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