At 1:19pm last Thuesday a report was published on the Guardian website stating that Isis had ordered all girls and women in Mosul to undergo FGM. This was based on a statement given by a United Nations representative. But, even in that report it was recognised that there was some doubt as to whether this order had actually been given.
As people heard about this and were shocked at the prospect, it was reported widely around the world and understandable outrage expressed.
At 6:29pm on the same day a further report was published stating that Isis had denied issuing the order
The TPM website has an article showing three tweets suggesting that the report of this edict is inaccurate.
I don’t know what is happening there. I hear of extreme pressure being put on Christians and my prayers are with them. I pray that women in that city won’t be subject to this horrendous practice. I pray for peace and justice.
In the wake of the plane coming down in Ukraine, conflicting reports and statements were made as to what had happened and who, if anyone, was responsible.
Regularly, in our Parliament, statements are made by politicians which are then challenged by other politicians and by journalists as to whether what they are saying is true or if they are trying to put a positive spin on situations and events.
And there will be many reasons which drive people to say the things they say.
- They hear of something shocking which could affect many and want to make if public and, hopefully, generate an upswell of public opinion against it and put pressure on those who are contemplating horrendous acts. They may judge that making it public, even if it isn’t certain, will actually prevent it happening
- They want to be the first to break a story and so aren’t able to take the time to check facts properly and to get independent verification. And there will be many pressures on people and organisations to do this.
- They want to positively present their “side” in a debate or dispute and to convince others that they have the best proposal, strategy, product, service or whatever
- They are seeking to get a particular verdict in a court of law which often ends up with two “independent experts” appearing for different sides
And I hesitate to write about the “niceties” of accuracy when events of such significance are happening around the world with people in fear and danger and uncertainty as to what will happen next. But it is because these things are affecting so many that information becomes even more important if the rest of the world is going to understand what is going on and to be able to determine how to engage appropriately.
So my plea is for accuracy in speech and communication – at international, national and local levels.
- That, wherever possible, things and situations are verified before speaking and – if not possible – appropriate caveats are used.
- That information is presented clearly and accurately and not dressed up to serve a particular agenda.
- That if incorrect information is given, a correction (and apology) is given as soon as possible
And that those of us who receive information will have the wisdom to assess it, to sift it, to understand it and to respond appropriately to all of the things which are happening in our world, and sometimes in our name.