Thank you for offering me a place on the above course yesterday. I would definitely recommend that other ITV staff go along if there are other sessions on offer.
The trainers Kaushar and Shakila were fantastic, I could have listened to them all day, particularly Shakila as her presentation regarding women in Islam was a real eye opener. I was surprised by my preconceptions before the training, regarding women’s roles, and although I perfectly understood the reasons for the "clothing in a Mosque etiquette" I was bothered by it as I hate any form of dress code. However, once I was there, listening to these two wonderful people, I felt honoured to don a headscarf, was pleased that I had dressed "without ornament" that morning and was extremely happy to have been welcomed into their house of worship.
There were so many things I took from the day that I can't possibly put into words quickly, but suffice to say, I found it extremely informative and at times very touching. The quiz at the beginning (which was revisited at the end) was great too, although I found it tricky and was glad I was sat next to two of my news colleagues from Bristol who knew so much more than me. I now won't forget the correct responses to those questions.
The editorial staff who were with me seemed to get a lot from it too - they were so attentive. I think they were hoping for answers though regarding how they might refer to people in the future who commit terrible crimes and who also claim to be practicing Muslims. (e.g. words like Muslim or Arab fundamentalists, extremists, militants, Al-Qaeda, Jahid Holy War, etc etc were all terms we discussed in depth). Kaushar (the course Director) explained how important it was for us to understand the difference between Islam as a religion and as a way of life and the cultural and traditional practices which come from peoples' own ethnic origin or behaviours. From what I learned from the day, I felt that as a "good believer" he would not pass judgement on people who do terrible things in the name of Islam, he just encouraged us to consider how we might term them in the future when we cover stories about the things they do. He was positive and encouraging and reiterated that we need to help the public understand that the behaviour of one person or a group of people is not a true picture of Muslim faith, even if the person committing it believes it to be so. This is obvious, but I felt it could not be said enough. Kaushar said that in the Muslim faith "good believers" know that "if a person helps a person, they are helping a nation, but if a person kills a person, they are killing a nation". He said that he believes we have a very difficult job as reporters of news, but that we have tremendous power to make a difference. These words will remain with me.
Julie Purnell | Regional HR Business Partner - ITV Wales, ITV West, ITV West country