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Statement from media and religious representatives

Statement from meeting of media and religious representatives
8 February, 2006 at the offices of the NZ Human Rights Commission

1. We agree that New Zealand's dramatically increased diversity of cultures and faiths raises new challenges for the media and the New Zealand community
2. We believe that it was groundbreaking for this range of people to meet to discuss this issue
3. The meeting affirmed without dissent the importance of freedom of the media
4. Equally, such freedom is not absolute, and comes with responsibilities
5. These include:
- sensitivity to diverse cultures and beliefs, and recognition of the diversity within cultures and beliefs
- responsibility to inform the community about diverse cultures and beliefs
- provide dialogue and channels of communication between the media and faith communities
6. The meeting acknowledged that the media has to make difficult calls on such issues on a daily basis and these need to be considered in an international context of conflict
7. It was agreed there is a need for continuing public discussion on the issues raised especially beyond the organisations and groups represented at the meeting
8. Recommended action:
- The Human Rights Commission to facilitate further discussion, in consultation with the media, faith communities and educators
- The NZ Journalists Training Organisation should address training issues that arise from this debate
- A directory of Muslim spokespeople to be compiled and made available to the media to facilitate a better flow of information

The meeting affirmed:

a) The media who published the cartoons did not set out to insult or offend, only to inform
b) They apologised for the offence caused
c) They did not resile from the decision to publish, based on the context at that time

The two newspapers which published the cartoons - The Dominion Post, and The Press - gave an undertaking not to publish them again.


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