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Michael Roberts

How ironic and timely. Yesterday I was wandering around Old Delhi, which on any given day is about one of the busiest and strangest places one can ever experience. It tantalizes the senses. The smells, sounds,and sights of people hustling around narrow streets selling and doing just about anything left me feeling like a 4 year old child who was seeing the world for the first time.

Yesterday was also the Eid al-Adha holiday here in Delhi. Thousands of Muslims came out to workshop at the 7th century Jama Masjid Mosque. Aswe wandered some of the Muslim streets filled with thousands of Muslims,I couldn't help but think of all the media publicity surrounding Muslim tensions towards "Westerners". Yet the impression I felt was completely opposite to the media. It was a wonderful and positive experience with people shouting "hello hello" and kids waving to us as they sat on the back of bicycle Rikshaws. People were friendly and polite and did not bother us.

Reflecting on the experience a bit more, I couldn't help but think how the media has helped to create a culture of fear within us between peoples, cultures and religions. There's no question tensions do arise, and in India there have of course been extreme tensions between Hindus and Muslims, but on a given day, millions of people worldwide, of different cultures interact with little trouble. Then when one American or in my case Canadian is attacked, the news goes streaming around the world to a local TV near you to the point where people are becoming afraid to travel, afraid to leave their homes and worse still becoming afraid and perhaps hateful of each other.

I'm lucky that I have had the opportunity to dispel some of these fears,but for many people who only learn about a place when a disaster happens, often via their TV, these images certainly help to fuel the miscommunication. In this sense, the media is more powerful than I had ever imagined.

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