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Media Power and Religions

The Challenge Facing Intercultural Dialogue and Learning

Manfred Pirner and Johannes Lähnemann

There can be no doubt about the high relevance of public media for the image we have of religion in general and certain religions in particular. Yet, it seems that the topic has long been neglected in academic research and discourse. This volume brings together multi-disciplinary perspectives, presented by internationally reputed experts. They offer illuminating analyses on the various interrelations between media and religions in the fields of human rights, anti-Islamism and anti-Semitism, on religions’ potential to foster peace and to contribute to media ethics and media education in pluralistic societies. The book also provides helpful orientation and concrete suggestions for journalistic and educational practice, academic research, political and social involvement.

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SECTON 1: Analyses

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15 Interrelated human rights: freedom of religion and freedom of expression Heiner Bielefeldt 1. Preamble: a German debate For anyone who optimistically assumed that Germany was well on the way to a relaxed acceptance of religious pluralism based on freedom of religion and be- lief, rights of minorities and rights of opportunity, the public debate that started in autumn 2010 will have come as a cold shower. Thilo Sarrazin’s book, “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany is abolishing itself), a bleak, crisis sce- nario, sold more than a million copies within the first few months thus becoming a bestseller of the year (cf. Sarrazin 2010). Sarrazin simply puts the blame for various problems of integration policy – from youth crime, to failed urban devel- opment, to problems of schooling and education – on a supposedly anti- integration mentality of Islam. The controversy the book caused revealed just how much anti-Muslim resentments exist within society. Had there been a Ger- man Geert Wilders, these resentments might well have mobilised successful party political activism. There were also surprising reactions to German President Christian Wulff’s speech on the Day of German Unity 2010. His statement that Islam has become a part of Germany not only encountered unexpectedly strong objections, but also triggered a flurry of conservative efforts at “damage control”. Time and again it has been said that, even though several million Muslims are now long term- residents and citizens in Germany, the country cannot be expected to take on board the cultural influence and values...

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