Some Muslim scholars have urged media organisations in Nigeria to ensure fair reportage of issues that concerned Islam and Muslims in the country.
The scholars made the call on Saturday in Lagos at the 2nd Annual Conference of Muslims Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Lagos State Chapter.
Veteran journalist and Islamic scholar, Alhaji Liad Tella, said that reportage of Muslims and Islamic issues suffered setbacks because the Nigerian media was mainly dominated by non-Muslims.
In his lecture titled, ”Analysis of Reportage of Islam and Muslims in Nigeria”, Tella urged Muslims to shun incompetence and embrace professionalism so as to win the respect and admiration of non-Muslims.
“It is a fact that Muslims are not adequately represented in the media but we can make a difference by discouraging incompetence and embracing professionalism,” he said.
Prof. Lakin Akintola, another prominent Islamic scholar, accused the Nigerian media of misrepresenting Muslims on several occasions.
He urged Nigerian Muslims to endeavour to own media houses, while advising the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to sanction erring journalists who deliberately disseminate falsehoods.
“The Nigerian media has been most unfair to Muslims in Nigeria, and I will advise that Muslim journalists should increase ownership of media houses.
“Sometimes Muslims are deliberately shut out from the media on issues that concern them, while at other times we see parochial representation of Islam and the Nigerian Muslims.
“It is now common to hear Muslims being referred to as terrorists in the media; that is condemnable.
“The NUJ also needs to wield the big stick and sanction media houses that misrepresent religions or incite violence,” he advised.
Akintola’s paper was titled, “Imperatives of Media Ownership by Nigerian Muslims”.
Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Lai Olurode, urged Muslim journalists to be more active in projecting the true essence of Islam as a religion of peace.
“We have not been very active as Muslim media practitioners, and we cannot expect any other person to tell our stories for us.
“We do not need to float our own media houses before we can be heard, we should endeavour to improve our visibility and be more active in projecting Islam in the media,” he said.
Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef, advised Muslims to strive to own and control their own media houses.
AbdulLateef, who represented Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, also urged Muslims to take more active roles in politics so as to affect society positively.
The conference was attended by Muslims journalists, scholars and several Islamic groups and individuals.