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IWPR Trained GBAO Religious Leaders on Media Literacy

More than 80 religious leaders completed trainings conducted by IWPR in partnership with the Committee of Religion, Regulation of National Traditions, Celebrations and Ceremonies under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, in three districts of the GBAO: Darvoz, Vanj Districts and in the city of Khorog, from the 1st to 5th of October.

Фото: CABAR.asia
Photo: CABAR.asia

The trainings were aimed at increasing the knowledge and improving digital skills of imam-khatibs and khalifahs (Ismaili religious authorities) in order to reduce the level of religious intolerance on social networks.

Фото: CABAR.asiaPhoto: CABAR.asia

The special program “Media Tools for Promoting Tolerance and Combating the Violent Extremism Propaganda” was created to strengthen the understanding of the necessity to promote religious tolerance in Tajik society and improve the skills to counter the destructive propaganda of violent extremism, which is most often manifested online.

Фото: CABAR.asiaPhoto: CABAR.asia

Religious leaders were offered to review the new legal norms, in particular, amendments that toughen penalties for “liking” and “sharing” the materials containing extremist appeals on social networks. They also received information on the methods of recruitment via the Internet, as well as on modern media tools for communicating with the public.

Representatives of the Committee of Religion, Regulation of National Traditions, Celebrations and Ceremonies told the spiritual leaders about the state policy on religion, about the importance of being able to respond to false propaganda and Islam references used in the recruitment of young people who often do not have the necessary level of religious education.

Photo: CABAR.asia

The training participants had the opportunity to learn about the history of religions in Tajikistan, about the tolerance traditions during ancient times, when different religions peacefully coexisted in the territory of modern Tajikistan.

Фото: CABAR.asia
Photo: CABAR.asia

The training was emphasized at the improvement of the imam-khatibs’ media literacy and reviewing the manipulative tactics of extremist organizations. During the training, religious leaders mastered the basic level of using social networks and the Internet.

During the workshop, the imam-khatibs and the khalifahs were online, studied browsers, learned to use search engines and instant messengers under the guidance of the coach Muhammadi Ibodulloev. In addition, during the case study, they understood that not all information on the network is reliable, and most often, such manipulation is used by people who have vested interests.

IWPR experts Muhammadi Ibodulloev and Lola Olimova spoke about the basic methods of verifying information on the network. Experts also talked about the factors that have to be noticed when receiving any information.

“The training was very technically productive. We studied the basic and necessary tools. It turned out that not all information on the Internet is reliable and, first, you should pay attention to the source of information, names and positions indicated in the materials. We were taught that it is necessary to double check whether the information corresponds to reality,” said Sodik Dustov, khalifah of the Roshtqala district of GBAO.

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The vast majority of religious leaders living in remote mountainous regions experience internet access difficulties. Not all of them own modern smartphones that allow instant access to the network from anywhere. In addition, not everyone can afford residential Internet access in the highlands and remote areas of the country.

Nevertheless, the imams and the khalifahs of GBAO promised to continue to improve their technical skills in using the Internet, since the information received at the trainings convinced them that without Internet access it was impossible to keep abreast of all events.

In addition, religious leaders have realized that the digital possibilities will greatly expand their audience.