Saturday, January 16, 2010

Media should build bridges: Rahman

Australian and Indian media have a responsibility to build bridges between the two countries, rather than breaking them apart, Bollywood superstar AR Rahman says.

The killing of Indian student Nitin Garg, 21, stabbed to death in Melbourne earlier this month, has sparked outrage in India.

The murder followed a spate of violence against Indian students in Melbourne over the past 18 months.

Indian authorities have urged local media to show restraint when reporting attacks on students in Australia, which have remained a sore point over the past year.

Rahman, a two-time Oscar winning composer, is visiting Australia for the 2010 Sydney Festival.

He says media in both countries have a propensity to incite anger between the two cultures but also hold the key to helping to stop the problem.

"First of all we need more responsible media," the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire composer told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

"Media is a great tool, but grossly misused and can provoke people.

"Just one comment can kill a thousand people - that has happened in the past. You have to be extremely careful and strict about what (you write)."

Mr Rahman will give a free live performance to up to 80,000 people at Parramatta Park in Sydney west on Saturday, as part of the festival.

He said he never considered cancelling his trip in light of the recent furore over the student attacks.

Acting Premier Carmel Tebbutt said she was hopeful the concert would promote peaceful relations between the two countries.

"It's an opportunity ... to promote our city and to send a very clear message that we're a multicultural, diverse city, we're a multicultural diverse country, and we're very proud of that," Ms Tebbutt told reporters.

Asked by reporters whether they were expecting any disturbances, police said they were prepared for the worst but hopeful the event would be peaceful.

"We'll have sufficient police and security there to deal with any contingency," NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Denis Clifford said.

"If anyone wants to go there to try and disrupt the activities or the enjoyment of others, they'll be quickly dealt with."

The president of the Federation of Australian Indian Association, Vish Viswanathan, said he wasn't worried about the potential for violence at the concert.

"In fact, I am sure we are looking for an enjoyable concert and we hope this concert brings harmony to Australia," he said.

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