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December 2, 2023

Search For Common Ground Trains Journalists on Freedom of Religion, Belief

From Tongnaan Bawa, Kaduna

Search for Common Ground Nigeria, a non-governmental Organization tasked journalists in Kaduna and Plateau States on common ground approach to journalism in relation to freedom of religious belief (FoRB).

The training which started on Tuesday at the Regview Restland Hotel, Kaduna had 25 participants in attendance and  will run for three days with different  professional activities of interest.

In a brief history of Search for common ground, the media specialist of the organisation,  Temisan Etietsola, in discussing common ground approach to journalism training in relation to FoRB, said its mission is basically peace building, emerged in 1982 with headquarters in Washington, has offices in 35 countries.

He said it started in Nigeria in 2003, with headquarters in Abuja, with offices in  Adamawa, Kaduna,Jos, Niger Delta, Port Harcourt and work across the country  with conflict related issues. Adding that the common issue is farmers headers conflict in Plateau and Kaduna to sort for freedom, while Borno is dealing with the issues insurgencies.

Search for 8 common ground approach is in partnership with Dialogue Reconciliation and Peace (DreP) and Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) started July 2023 in Nigeria. He said.

“The goal is to empower women. Religious actors and youth activist to promote freedom and religion or belief. To build capacity in conflict sensitive reporting to strengthen the capability, strengthen  awareness of the public on freedom of Religion belief”

The “mission of search for common ground is to transform the way people deal with conflict  away from adversarial approaches  toward cooperative solutions”

The 5 values are collaboration, Audacity, Tenacity,empathy  and results with a vision of a world where conflict doesn’t mean violence but rather, a source of progress.

Conflict according to Etietsola, explained that “The guiding principles are to uncover and the build on common ground,  recognise that conflicts are complex and dynamic. Change takes time, it often  encounters resistance, and is not always linear, that is why we remain engaged for the longterm, maintaining  incentives for ongoing engagement by all involved in the conflict “

He said for common ground approach, principles and beliefs, “Journalists ought to understand the concept of the common ground approach in the context of freedom of Religion and belief. Strategies for fostering understanding and dialogue is to identify strategies for promoting understanding and  dialogue among different religions and belief communities”

On role of media in promoting religious tolerance,   there is need to recognize the role of media in shaping a more inclusive and harmonious public discourse, said  Alfred Mangai, Media Officer of search for common ground.

Other activities to be discussed in  the remaining days would are  Connectors and Dividers in Conflict, the objective is to identify the influence of media as connectors and dividers in conflicts related to religion.

Conflict transformation: principles and process and how people respond to conflict, Conflict transformation  Tools and Techniques.

Understanding conflict sensitivity, strategies and techniques of integrating  conflict sensitivity, Interplay of media and conflict escalation and mitigation, Safety of Journalists during Religious freedom reporting amongst others.

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Mustapha Salisu

Mustapha Salisu is a graduate of BSc. Information and Media Studies from Bayero University Kano, with experience in Communication Skills as well as Public Relations.

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