The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) on Thursday in Abuja unveiled a Media and Information Literacy (MIL) and inter-religious dialogue project to deepen inter-faith relationship among Muslim and Christians leaders. The project was also meant to curb the menace of misinformation that cause crisis mostly between the two major religions in the country.
The Coordinator, AFRICMIL, Dr. Chido Onumah at the unveiling, said the project being sponsored by the centre and Canada Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI), was aimed at creating awareness about the importance of MIL and to promote its relevance as a catalyst for peaceful communication and harmonious relationship in the country.
He said this was necessitated by the fact that potentials for intense religious crisis are more in this age of internet technology where fake news and hate messages targeting religions and culture are disseminated.
According to him, the MIL has the ability to access, analyse and create media as a prerequisite for citizens to realize their rights to freedom of information and it enables them to make informed judgments as users of information.
He said AFRICMIL focused on four states in the North-Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau for the pilot project because religious crises were more prevalent and often take dangerous dimensions in the North more than in the South.
“More than ever, and because of the enormous powers they wield, this is the time religious leaders should be made to recognise and respond to groups or individuals that are using the internet to promote stereotypes, preach religious extremism and promote violence.
Over the years, there have been serious outbreaks of violence between Christian and Muslim faithful in different parts of the country leading to loss of lives and destruction of property worth billions.
“There are genuine fears of religious conflicts breaking out in Nigeria which could threaten, not just peace but the unity of the country if not quickly checked so there is the urgent need to use media information literacy as a tool to change behaviour of opinion leaders in the society,” Unomah said.
Some religious leaders at the event pledged their support for the programme saying both the Christianity and Islam preach peace and abhor violence.
The Chairman, Kaduna State chapter, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Joseph Hayab, commended the MIL idea, saying that dialogue remained the best ways to understand each other.
Hayab expressed hope that the project would help to address the challenges faced especially in terms of abduction of clergy and payment of ransom thereby bringing to light the tribulations that affect them.
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