A NEW DAWN FOR ISLAMIC IDENTITY – IS THE NEW PUBLIC RELATIONS MEDIA THE ANSWER?

TitleA NEW DAWN FOR ISLAMIC IDENTITY – IS THE NEW PUBLIC RELATIONS MEDIA THE ANSWER?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Abdool-Satar, A. O.
Affiliation (1st Author)University of South Africa
Section or WGMedia, Religion and Culture Working Group
DateSat 29 June
Slot CodeMRCS1a
Slot Code (Keyword)MRCS1a
Time of Session9:00-10:30
RoomQG02
Session TitleClash of Cultures: A case study in Islam and the West
Submission ID7065
Abstract

The issue of adopting an Islamic identity remains a contentious issue for Muslims, especially within the context of global anti-Islam politics. Rapid globalisation has spawned many pluralistic societies that require greater cultural, ethnic and religious diversity management. Unfortunately, under the umbrella of diversity, Islam remains one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented religious sects. Does Islam require public relations to counter anti-Islam sentiments and can new public relations media evoke a new dawn for Islamic identity? Can the media that is largely responsible for the skewed reflection of Islam be used to correct this portrayal? This study is a work in progress that aims to understand the positive role that new public relations media can play in fostering understanding of Islam in dominant secular societies through creating an interactive platform for information dissemination and dialogue. The aim is to bridge the gap between public relations theory and practice, by identifying the public relations activities of various religious advocacy movements within the period of January 2010 – January 2013 that actively work towards countering anti-Islamic outlooks and foster discussion and mutual understanding. The ventures of prominent advocacy groups such as CAIR (Council on American–Islamic Relations), MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) and the endeavours of award-winning British journalist Yvonne Ridley, are some of the activities that will be highlighted in this study in an attempt to understand the range of public relations efforts that have been executed and the type of media used to implement these campaigns. An analysis of relevant public relations theories will be cited to provide insightful recommendations to promulgating innovative public relations strategies, using new media technology, to counter the highly politicised anti-Islamic sentiments that pervade society and hinder social cohesion and cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Thus, this research study aims to provoke debate around the role of new public relations media in engendering a peacefully pluralistic society amid religious tolerance in secular societies.

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