Media professional discussed political changes in Egypt and in the region ; Secretary General Amre Moussa and UNAOC High Representative President Sampaio participated in the event.
UNAOC representatives and media professionals from Arab countries, Europe and the US met in Cairo, Egypt, at a Forum aiming to discuss political changes in the region and the role of media.
The conference took place at the Headquarters of the League of Arab States in Cairo, located next to Tahrir Square, which concentrated recent protests in the Egyptian capital.
Role of Youth and Social Media
The role of youth in the recent political change was a central theme of the conference.
UNAOC High Representative Jorge Sampaio and Secretary General of the League of Arab States Amre Moussa participated in the event.
“The surfacing of a new generation with vision and aspirations has revealed the inability of traditional media to catch up with recent changes. Internet media has become the true expression of the spirit of these transformations”, said Amre Moussa.
The UNAOC debate with the presence of local and foreign media representatives is part of the regional strategy approved last November in Malta to promote better dialogue between governments, civil society, individuals and institutions in the Mediterranean.
Building social trust and democracy
The media played a key role in the recent transformations in the Arab world, with the power of satellite television and social networks which enabled people to assemble in a virtual world. However, the main challenge for the region will be the capacity to build real democratic institutions, according to various experts participating in the panels.
“Some have called such mobilizations “Twitter” or “Facebook” revolutions, but in doing so they have in many ways forgotten that before social media there is social trust, trust between people that technology just helps to consolidate”, said President Sampaio.
Involving Civil society
Recent events represent an opportunity for the global agenda of intercultural dialogue, in particular across the Arab world. The “Arab renaissance” will now raise the question of the way universal values will be translated at the local level and on the ground with civil society organizations. Journalists, in particular, will play a crucial role to improve knowledge and share perception between people of different background.
The challenge of covering intercultural and interreligious crises, the impact of hate speech in the Internet, and the role of the media in the MidEast peace process were also among the topics raised during the forum.
To read President Sampaio speech: [pdf]
(photo: Camilo Freire, UNTV)