In early May, religion reporters around the world are preparing stories on Eid al-Fitr, the closing festival of Ramadan. Reporting from his home in Algeria, Larbi Megari describes both the optimism and the anxieties common in Muslim communities as families experience their second Ramadan during the COVID pandemic.
This is a perilous period for religious freedom throughout the world. Most large countries officially proclaim religious freedom—but a growing body of research has found that the chasm between promise and practice is wide. In many cases, the promises of freedom are routinely denied. In this important Global Plus column, Roger Finke, director of the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), and the IARJ’s co-founder journalist David Briggs collaborated to offer a compelling, global overview of threats to religious freedom, today.
All journalists regularly covering religion around the world find themselves reporting on Islam and, in 2019, we encounter extreme voices—fueled by a rising tide of nationalism in response to global conflicts, migration and the plight of refugees. IN THIS COLUMN, you’ll find helpful resources you can use today—and a series of fresh ideas about ways you, too, could contribute to the global conversation in a helpful way.
IARJ’s Co-Managing Director Larbi Megari—who was also named the IARJ’s representative for North Africa and Middle East in 2018—reports in the Global Plus series about building friendships across religious lines. He especially explores issues of building social trust and civility between Muslims and non-Muslims. And, at the end of his column, Larbi adds a list of links to additional resources that will be valuable for journalists reporting on these issues.
Reina Lewis examines changing styles and expectations about Muslim women’s fashions. Reina is Artscom Centenary Professor of Cultural Studies at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. She is a leading researcher and writer on fashion and faith.
Lina Molokotos-Liederman, a researcher in sociology of religion in London, writes about the many connections between humor and religion. All of us feel better when we laugh. As a social and relational form of communication and a form of encounter, humor has the potential to help us connect with others in different social settings, foster human relations and build bridges across different and diverse communities. Thanks to our friends at the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) for allowing us to share this Global Plus column.
Two of IARJ’s most active members, Executive Director Endy Bayuni from Indonesia and Waqar Gillani from Pakistan, met with journalists from the tiny Asian nation of the Maldives in a peer-to-peer seminar sponsored by the German nonprofit Media in Cooperation and Transition to help improve best practices in covering religion in the news.
IARJ Chair Douglas Todd reports on the upcoming global conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, focusing on the challenges of covering religion in this complex region of the world. Most journalists attending are from Asia. They will be joined by journalists from several other continents.
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.
Across the world, billions of worshippers this weekend will be going to mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship hearing messages declaring that the choices they make in this life can affect their eternal destiny. How each of them, and secular individuals, face the great existential question of the meaning of life in the face of mortality can make a major difference in areas from mental health to preventing terrorism and promoting more generous, compassionate societies less likely to experience civil strife, new research shows.