Sierra Leone Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray has attended the 12th Session of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) for information ministers and has urged its member states to work together to counter disinformation and the ever-rising threats to the Islamic religion and civilization.
The 12th Conference of the Ministers of Information of OIC was hosted by the Republic of Turkey in İstanbul on 21-22 October 2022, with the theme “Combatting Disinformation and Islamophobia in the post-truth era”.
Minister Swaray extended fraternal greetings from His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, the government, and the people of Sierra Leone. He congratulated the new leadership of the OIC and registered his delegation’s sincere thanks and profound appreciation to the Government and the people of the Republic of Turkey for hosting the 12th Session of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers.
“Chair, Distinguished Ministers and Heads of delegations, ladies, and gentlemen; As you may be aware, Sierra Leone is well reputed for her religious tolerance and has never had an incidence of Islamophobia. There are inter-marriages between various religious denominations and a high degree of peaceful co-existence which ranks Sierra Leone as one of the most religiously tolerant nations in the world as reflected in the global religious freedom index”, he noted.
Minister Swaray further noted that though Sierra Leone has not experienced Islamophobia and religious bigotry in the past, it should not be an alibi for inaction, saying that the government of President Julius Maada Bio has repealed the 1965 criminal libel law which criminalizes libel, increased internet penetration and has embarked on aggressive media development initiatives including capacity building and awareness raising of the dangers of Islamophobia and religious intolerance. He said that their government looks forward to partnering with other OIC member states to achieve such an objective.
“Combatting Disinformation and Islamophobia in the post-truth era in a globalized world where we have witnessed tremendous and palpable innovations in information technology with emphasis on privatization, the previous and tangible hold of government on information generation and dissemination has waned and no longer profound”.
“New and multiple players have not only come to the fore but have brought in their baggage litany of threats to peace and the stability of the state. Trans-boundary and cyber crimes have not only increased but are now done with more ease and more speed than before as innovations in information technology gather pace”, he told the conference.
Minister Swaray encouraged his colleagues present, to be mindful of the noble role they play in bringing about sanity and rationalization amid fear by reaching, through deliberations, agreeable benchmarks and mechanisms to counter disinformation and Islamophobia.
“In conclusion, Mr. Chair, let me once again thank the Government and people of the Republic of Turkey for hosting this very important meeting, and to the OIC for facilitating it”, he concluded.
Honorable Rahman Swaray was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communications, Mr. Tamba Juana. The delegation has been joined by Sierra Leone Ambassador to Turkey, Mohamed Hassan Kaisamba, and other members of the Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.