It is very important to be media literate to combat any misinformation in the modern age, social justice advocate Lina Abu Akleh told the latest edition of Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Education City Speaker Series titled ‘Protecting Truth, Seeking Justice.’
Lina is a niece of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American correspondent for Al Jazeera, who was reporting on an Israeli military raid on Palestine, when she was killed by Israeli Defence Forces in May this year.
“One thing I learned when doing my undergraduate degree in media and communications was the importance of being media literate in an age and a time where we are faced with so many different narratives, misinformation, and disinformation,” said Lina.
While describing her aunt’s death as an ‘insurmountable loss’, Lina said that Shireen was killed not once but twice as the Israel army tried to stop her funeral. “They did not let her go in peace. It demonstrates how journalists everywhere need to be protected. We don’t want to see other families experience what we have,” she noted.
Lina told the audience at the talk, held in collaboration with Al Jazeera, how the fight for justice for Shireen that she and her family have embarked on, has been spurred on by support from across the world, and her aunt’s legacy will be how her independence, bravery, and compassion have inspired young women in the Arab world and beyond.
“Shireen was a journalist, so it is important for journalists everywhere to talk about her and advocate for her. A threat to a journalist somewhere is a threat to journalists everywhere,” stressed Lina.
The social justice advocate urged that "Shireen shouldn’t be just another journalist killed and it is important that journalists and journalistic associations continue to support, mobilise, and find mechanisms that ensure the protection of journalists in the field.”
Lina said her role in seeking justice for Shireen was powered by her aunt’s dedication to raising awareness of the occupation of Palestine, saying: “I realised this was the moment I needed to call for justice and accountability, and what has driven me to continue the journey was not because I have to, but because I want to – Shireen would have done the same if it was any one of us.
“My main message to journalists and journalism students is to continue to write and talk about Shireen, because to talk about her is to talk about her legacy and about Palestine. She has showed millions of young women that you can be anything you want, and that it is important to be empathetic and compassionate so you can understand the people you are writing about.
“My aunt is a perfect example of why speaking out against oppression is important. Constantly looking for the truth and including Palestinian voices is what she advocated for. She was there for the people – and she chose to be a journalist to be close to the people.”
“Exploring and looking at things critically, and trying to differentiate between different news outlets and how messages spread and the way they are shaped, is really important for a person trying to absorb all this information. Always be critical of what you read, look at different outlets rather than sticking to one, and seek the truth,” Lina added.
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