Istanbul Declaration and disinformation


Last week, the 56-member strong Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) adopted a much-needed resolution, called the Istanbul Declaration, underscoring the need to step up efforts and develop necessary mechanisms in this developed age of information technology to fight off Islamophobia, disinformation and other related challenges, which have been rearing their heads to vitiate peace across the globe, particularly in regions where Muslims are in minority.
Turkiye hosted the two-day Islamic Conference of Information Ministers with the theme of “Combating Disinformation and Islamophobia in the Post-Truth Era”.
The term “Post-Truth Era”, which, according to scholars and research books, applies in its totality to the 21st century and denotes circumstances in which objective facts are seen less influential in shaping public opinion than beliefs and emotions of individuals. Hence, the term, as per its definition, is manifest in many forms, aiming at blocking and “colonializing” accurate information, thereby promoting chaos and social and communal upheavals on the global stage.
Pakistan’s delegation to the conference, headed by federal information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, rightly pointed out that the OIC was uniquely poised to take the lead in the fight against disinformation and Islamophbia, which are not only manifested in the neighboring India, but also on other continents, including Europe and America, where increased censorship is applied to block dissemination of accurate information on hate speech and violent tendencies towards pockets of Muslim population in those countries.
A steady but constant rise manifested in restrictions on Islamic dress, mob lynching, pre-planned communal riots, and negative portrayal of Muslims in electronic and social media in India has been a source of increasing concern in Islamic countries. India’s state sponsored suppression of information in the illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir is aimed to cover the truth from the public and get away with its atrocities to turn a Muslim majority into a religious minority in their own region.
Restrictions on wearing purdah or headscarves by Muslim women in European countries are also a major manifestation of situations in which the people are more likely shaped in a way where they only see an argument plausible when it is based on its appeal to their personal emotions and beliefs.
Incidents of hate crimes have also been rife in Europe, Australia and Canada, where access to information technology is under no restrictions and where the people use the technological resources to vent their hate against Islam and Muslims due to their lack of knowledge on Islam.
The OIC information ministers’ conference has called for an immediate and complete lifting of restrictions on communication and immediate access for the international media to the Indian occupied Kashmir to unveil the truth behind the military siege by the India occupation forces.
As a representative of the collective will and aspirations of the Muslim Ummah, the OIC, as has been put forth Pakistan’s information minister, is uniquely poised to lead the endeavour and must throw its full political and economic weight and clout in protecting the fundamental rights of Muslims and interests of Muslim minorities across the globe.