The Coordinator, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, AFRIMIL, Chido Onumah has stated that religious crises are often triggered by the dissemination of hate speech and fake news through various new media platforms in the country.
Speaking at the launch of the Interreligious Dialogue Project on Thursday in Abuja, Mr Onumah said the potential for intense religious crises is becoming more intense in the age of internet technology where social media platforms are deployed to disseminate all kinds of fake news and hate messages.
According to him, individuals and groups often use the internet to promote stereotypes, preach religious extremism and promote violence.
Mr Onumah, therefore, tasked religious leaders on responding to these individuals and groups with a view to putting back the trends.
While criticizing the Federal Government’s move to criminalise hate speech, Mr Onumah called on the authorities to encourage the use of media and information literacy as a tool to change the behaviour of the opinion moulders such as the religious leaders in society.
Speaking on the project, Mr Onumah said the platform would work towards promoting peace and religious coexistence in the country.
“The overall goal of the project is to promote peace and religious coexistence in Nigeria as well as to create a forum for inter-religious dialogue in the Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau State where the project will focus.
“The project will work towards reducing religious tension in the media and social media and create a forum for a peaceful resolution in the four targeted states,” Mr Onumah added.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that through this project, AFRICMIL is expected to empower religious leaders in targeted states with media and information literacy competencies.
These competencies will enhance their capacity to navigate the news media and the internet with a view to addressing misinformation or bias about their own beliefs or those of other religious communities.