Displaying items by tag: Media
Dressed in the colours of Ukraine, Vladyslav Bondar, a ballet dancer, moves delicately across the stage of Rotterdam's mediaeval St Lawrence Church. He is performing with the United Ukrainian Ballet at a Salvation Army Christmas party - a setting far removed from the war in his homeland. ‘I wanted to fight for Ukraine.’ Vladyslav said after the performance, knowing it could have meant the end of his career as a professional dancer. But instead of taking up arms, he joined over 70 other Ukrainians who make up the United Ukrainian Ballet - a dance company formed directly in response to the outbreak of war. Fellow dancer Oleksii Kniazkov said, ‘Every Ukrainian has his own battlefield. And the stage is ours.’ Their dance is a dance of defiance.
Iraqis, Muslims, Christians and those of no faith at all tune into a radio station vastly different from what is normally heard on Middle Eastern airwaves. ‘Saut al Salam’ or ‘Voice of Peace’ is broadcast from a tiny studio in Qaraqosh and reaches 150,000 listeners, living up to its name. The programmes have no politics or conflicts. The broadcasters tell stories about the church, Christianity and Christian life, dispelling many misconceptions in the Muslim world that are passed on from generation to generation. For instance thinking that Christians just like to party and drink alcohol. Saut al Salam is changing wrong perceptions with programs on raising children, Christian music, and reporting cultural church events. Their highest hope is that listeners, a majority of whom are not Christians, will hear a message of peace, consideration and love.
Cineworld has removed a film about Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, from Bradford, Bolton, Birmingham and Sheffield venues, after hundreds of Muslims protested, calling the film blasphemous. Cineworld said that because of incidents outside venues, and for the safety of staff and customers, the screening of 'The Lady of Heaven' will stop. The film opens with the IS invasion of Iraq, showing a jihadist murder, before telling the story of Lady Fatima. The movie's executive producer called Cineworld’s decision ‘unacceptable’ and accused them of 'bowing down to radical extremists'. He said, ‘It is never right to submit to anything that undermines free speech. The only caveat to free speech is if you incite violence either directly or indirectly. If someone doesn’t want to watch something, then don't watch it, that's your freedom. People can’t compel you to watch this film, it doesn’t incite violence, and there is nothing in British law preventing the film being screened in the UK.’
Yessenia Mollinedo and Sheila Johana Garcia were shot on 9 May, raising the death toll of journalists this year to eleven. Mexico is the most dangerous country for media workers outside of war zones. Authorities are searching for a motive for their murder. Media rights group Reporters Without Borders are investigating the incident. Mexico’s federal government has been criticised for neither preventing the killing of journalists nor investigating them sufficiently. Although organised crime is often blamed for attacks on media workers, small-town officials and politicians with political or criminal motivations are often suspects in these crimes. Crimes against freedom of expression occur daily. It is not clear if Mollinedo or Garcia were enrolled in a federal protection programme for journalists and human rights defenders. Several of the journalists killed this year had made contact with the programme at some point. Although President Obrador promises a ‘zero impunity’ policy when investigating such slayings, he continues his regular verbal attacks against journalists critical of his administration.
In 2010, when T C Stallings landed a very small role as an extra in the film Secretariat, he knew he wanted to make acting his career. The 44-year-old Christian explained that he was always interested in acting but didn’t think he could do it. He said his priority is to use his work as a vehicle to share his faith. ‘I try to use all my gifts and talents for Him. Acting gives me an opportunity to reflect all the glory toward Him.’ Today Stallings is known for starring in faith-based films. ‘What makes it easy for me to share my faith is like, “What would God want me to do?” I care more about what He thinks than anybody else. I don’t control the outcomes; I let the Holy Spirit lead.’
Concerns about free speech regulation have resurfaced after Elon Musk bought Twitter. Musk’s vow to ‘defeat spam bots’ and make Twitter’s algorithm public is welcomed by many, including Matt Batten, director of communication at Llandaff Church in Wales. He is pleased that there will be an edit button and that spam bots will be removed, and sees algorithms being made public as bringing greater transparency. However, his scepticism increases when it comes to free speech. He told Premier, ‘It all sounds fantastic, and we champion democracy, but whose freedom of speech?’ Political activists also expect Musk's ownership of Twitter will mean less moderation and the reinstatement of banned individuals, including Donald Trump. There are questions on what the deal will mean for Twitter's China content policy, as Musk's Tesla relies heavily on China for production and vehicle sales. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to hate or insult others.
By 2018 there were 5 billion mobile phone users and over 4 billion using the internet. Desert nomads can watch videos pre-loaded onto their mobile phones. This revolution in communications is increasing the spread of the gospel. Networking tools are being used in astonishing ways. Isolated Muslims who have heard of Jesus or dreamt of a man in dazzling white speaking to them have started to seek Christ via social networking. A project to do this drew over a thousand responses in just one southeast Asian country. When the idea was repeated in the Middle East, the response overwhelmed the available resources. One observer reports that thanks to messaging apps, untold numbers of groups are emerging daily who encourage one another in the Word even in places where the gospel cannot legally go. Pray for creativity and wisdom to make the most of every mission opportunity that presents itself.
New Life Radio was based in Russia but moved to Odessa, Ukraine, in response to increasingly restrictive Russian laws. New Life’s founder and organiser said despite the current crisis, Christian radio is a crucial ministry for reaching Russian-speaking peoples. He said, ‘The importance of Christian radio is we can ensure Russian-speakers get solid biblical teaching and sound doctrine in a way that overcomes their inability to currently get it. When the government stops the evangelical church from evangelising and doing public discipleship, what’s the next vehicle that can accomplish that? Christian radio’. New Life Radio was launched as an FM station, then expanded its reach across Russia and surrounding Russian-speaking nations through satellite radio. They now broadcast on the internet around the world. During the Ukraine crisis they moved to Romania to continue broadcasting. They also now give updates for informed prayer.
For Global Britain to be credible it is time for its architect, Boris Johnson, to intervene with retribution tactics not deterrence. Closing Russia’s embassy and removing their diplomats while removing ours from Moscow would indicate a fundamental shift in the understanding of Russia as not a partner in diplomacy, but a threat to other nations. Russian state outlets in the UK, like Russia Today, spouting propaganda masquerading as journalism, should be shut down immediately to prevent misinformation. Those operating in politics, law, and media while representing Russian state interests should be forced to declare who is paying their bills. Visas should be cancelled and assets of everyone linked to Putin’s regime frozen. Of all the economic sanctions, cutting Putin’s regime off from SWIFT international payment system would remove Russia’s ability to make international transactions, trigger capital outflows and currency instability, and hit buyers of Russian oil and gas.
On 8 February, the day dedicated to safer internet, the department for culture, media and sport and MP Chris Philp published the Online Safety Bill, which will force pornography websites to prevent underage access including by using age verification technologies. They believe that children will be better protected from online pornography under the new measures in the Government’s pioneering new internet safety laws. Pray that all sites that publish pornography will successfully put robust checks in place to ensure their users are over 18 and that no one slips through the safety net. If sites fail to act, Ofcom will be able to fine them up to 10% of their annual worldwide turnover or can even block them from being accessible in the UK. Bosses of these websites could also be held criminally liable if they fail to cooperate with Ofcom.