Conference in AUC reveals how Social Media Shapes Politics Soha Fayed, Merehan Abdelmagid and mahmoud mohamed

The six presenters of AUSACE are preparing for their presentations.

From left to right: Phil Auter, Mohamed El-Nawawy, Mohamed Gameel, Salma El Ghetany, Abeer Al Najjar and Zahera Harb. Photo by Soha Fayed.

Salma El Ghetany, a Journalism and Mass Communication graduate from The American University in Cairo, explained the lyrics of the Egyptian song “Bushret Kheir” according to a research paper she co-authored with Mohamed Gameel. Photo by Soha Fayed.

The attendees, including Norman Lewis from the University of Florida, focusing on Salma El Ghetany’s presentation on the Egyptian song “Bushret Kheir.” Photo by Soha Fayed.

Dr. Abeer Al Najjar, professor from The American University in Sharjah, listens to questions from the attendees about female journalists dealing with hate speech in the Middle East. Photo by Soha Fayed.

The academic journalism conference Arab-U.S. Association for Communication Educators

(AUSACE) was held at the American University in Cairo (AUC), on Sunday, Oct. 23rd. Politics in the Age of Internet and Social Media. Academics in the mass communication field gathered to discuss the implications of social media on politics, hate speech and sensationalization of the media.

Salma El Ghetany is a JRMC (journalism and mass communication) graduate from AUC who deliberated how the popular Egyptian song “Bushret Kheir” promoted nationalism and brought the whole country together in a critical time where it was splitting apart. The song was released during the 2014 presidential elections which was the first elections after the 2011 revolution, hence calling it “Bushret Kheir” which translates to “A Good Sign.” The song was inclusive of Egyptians from every social class in the music video. The Egyptian flag was shown multiple times in the music video, which is an obvious symbol of nationalism. Through this short presentation, El Ghetany’s research concluded that “ "Bushret Kheir" revolutionized Egypt.”

Dr. Abeer Al Najjar, a journalism professor at the American University of Sharjah discussed her preliminary observations from her workshop with more than 20 female journalists talking about hate speech and how to deal with it from a social psychology standpoint. Al Najjar first started talking about the threats women in the Arab society get from harassment to rape to sexist, demeaning comments.“Fundamentally we have to look at hate speech and from a regulatory point of view and also from a social and professional point of view as a way to counter it and preserve competing rights.” said Al Najjar.

The attendees paying attention and taking notes while Dr Najjar discusses how to deal with hate speech. Photo by Soha Fayed.

Al Najjar proposed a social based counter for hate speech and looking at it. Internationally the meaning of hate speech is the incitement

of violence and religious hate, not taking into account other types of hate speech such as gender hate speech.Al Najjar then continued by talking about the importance of gender hate speech in Arab society due to the social disposition that is unfavorable for women in the Arab world.

Dr. Zahera Harb, from Lebanon and teaching at the University of London discussed how channels like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya promote hate speech and have been actively propagating biased political ideologies and enforcing prejudice political beliefs onto their viewers.

Dr. Zahera Harb, a professor at “The University of London” while explaining the “5-Point Test” applied on Al Jazeera’s program “The Opposite Direction. Photo by Soha Fayed.

Harb tested her hate speech philosophy on one of Al Jazeera’s popular shows “The Opposing Direction.” Harb followed “The 5-Point Test,” from The Ethical Journalism Network, which is a UK based organization that came up with 5 fixed rules to measure if a reporter is promoting hate speech or is practicing free speech. The rules maneuver around the goal and content of the speech. Harb took these five rules and implied them to three of “The Opposing Direction’s” episodes, which lead her to a conclusion of how Al Jazeera constantly promotes hate speech and biases to its viewers. Harb stated that "the opposite direction is a mirror of Qatari foreign policy.”

Created By
Soha Fayed

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