9 - 15 December 1999
Issue No. 459
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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No time for laxityBy Fadia El-Ghazali Harb *
There is no reason for the media to adopt a special policy for Ramadan, yet radio and TV officials save the best programmes for that month. Ramadan is supposed to be a month of fasting and contemplation, during which spiritual values must predominate over the petty concerns of daily life. This is not to say that the media should focus exclusively on religious programmes. These are certainly relevant, but should be presented from a more practical viewpoint to cater to people's needs. Writers, directors and producers should focus on aspects most relevant to people's lives. Taboos should be set aside whenever religious or scientific advice is sought. Discussions between religious scholars and laymen must be conducted freely.
The surplus of recreational shows on the radio and TV suggests that Ramadan is a month of relaxation and slothfulness. Work productivity is greatly compromised, as though worshipping God implied laxity in other aspects of life. The media's exclusive focus on mind-numbing entertainment is opposed to Islam's basic respect for the value of work, and the principle that life should continue even if people are fasting. We should observe the difference between a person who fasts Ramadan because he genuinely believes and profoundly wishes to observe one of the tenets of Islam, and another whose mind is occupied with the goodies to be devoured at the Iftar table, and the exciting programmes to be watched on television. In recent years, Ramadan has coincided with school and university examinations, and in every home, the hours spent watching television are directly proportional to the study time lost.
*This week's Soapbox speaker is the deputy director of the Middle East radio broadcast.