New evidence shows shocking ‘negativity’ in news and drama towards Muslim people

A Muslim woman hiding her face
Fréa Lockley

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) launched the Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM) in parliament on 9 July. It also released a significant report called the State of Media Reporting about Islam and Muslims. The MCM wants to “promote fair and responsible reporting of Muslims and Islam” in the press. It’s also trying to tackle the “serious problem of bias” in the media.

Several guests on the BBC‘s Victoria Derbyshire programme on the day of the launch laid bare this shocking ‘negativity’ across both news and drama in representing Muslims and Islam.

Negativity

As Derbyshire stated, the MCB’s research revealed that:

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nearly 60% of articles and programmes it analysed associated Muslims with negative behaviour.

The MCB’s Miqdaad Versi explained the methodology behind the report, which involved analysing 11,000 articles. From this, the MCB established that:

a large proportion of articles and clips from the news… and dramas… have negative associations when it comes to Muslims… When you look at all of it together, what does that mean for the way that a viewer or a reader would see Muslims… when that’s what they perceive; that’s what they consume; that’s the media that they get?

Versi also highlighted that this issue is even worse in “right-wing or right-leaning publications”. Here, he said, the examples of  “biased or very biased” representations of Muslims were “significantly higher”.

“I think we have seen the outcomes of such portrayal on victims of Islamophobia”

It may perhaps come as no surprise that the right-wing media pumps out these damaging and negative stereotypes. But the issue goes far deeper – especially in presenting Muslim women. As Sahae Al-Faifa explained, mainstream BBC drama is also problematic. Discussing BBC One‘s primetime drama Bodyguard, Al-Faifa said:

I felt that this is exactly the Islamophobic narrative that we try to challenge – that Muslim women [are] oppressed and suppressed.

The episode Al-Faifa discussed with Derbyshire portrayed a Muslim woman as “a terrorist… a bomber and not only that, she’s about to be saved by a white man”. Al-Faifa continued:

It’s… drama but it contributes to the social conditioning of people to accept… Muslim women… to be dangerous, to be criminal.

Al-Faifa went on to say:

I think we have seen the outcomes of such portrayal on victims of Islamophobia… an increase in hate crime and Islamophobic abuse… You see a lot of Muslim women being called ‘terrorist’ and ‘bombers’.

Enough is enough

The MCB’s work comes alongside statistics suggesting that Islamophobia in the membership of the ruling Conservative Party is endemic. Channel 4‘s Dispatches reported finding numerous Islamophobic posts online from apparent members of the Conservative Party. A recent poll of Conservative Party members by HOPE not hate and YouGov also found 67% of people believed “there are areas of Britain that operate under Sharia Law”. HOPE not hate also noted that Theresa May:

responded by turning questions about the poll into a political attack on the Labour Party.

Meanwhile, calls led by Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi to investigate fully the “overwhelming evidence of Islamophobia” in the party go unheeded. The MCB has also repeatedly asked the party to investigate alleged Islamophobia. Yet it’s taken little action, and this issue goes largely unreported in the establishment media.

In March, Tell Mama, which tackles anti-Muslim hate crime, reported:

The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes reported across Britain increased by 593% in the week after a white supremacist killed worshippers at two New Zealand mosques

Blatant bias in both news and drama does nothing to change the attitudes behind these shocking statistics. Islamophobia is seeping into the fabric of our lives. It’s dangerous, damaging, and disgusting – we must stand together against it.

Featured image via mostafa meraji/Unsplash

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    1. British campaigners say Muslim students across the UK are suffering a backlash of abuse amid rising Islamophobic sentiments in schools following the recent wave of terrorist attacks in the French capital, Paris.

      In a report published by The Independent on Friday, the campaigners said Muslim students are increasingly being targeted by fellow schoolmates and the government is failing to tackle the problem.

      According to the British charity monitoring anti-Muslim hate crimes, Tell MAMA, there has been a “significant” rise in incidents in British schools, with both parents and teachers reporting verbal and physical attacks against Muslim students in the wake of the terrorist assaults in Paris earlier this month that killed 17 people.
      On January 7, two gunmen attacked the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo magazine, killing 12 people. In a separate incident another gunman killed a police officer and then attacked supermarket in the capital, killing four hostages. All assailants were slain by police.

      The charity has registered 112 cases of physical and verbal violence against Muslim students since the Paris attacks took place on January 7 to 9.

      “We are seeing more incidents of radicalized language and bullying against Muslim children in schools and it has led to a significant number of incidents following the events in Paris,” said Fiyaz Mughal, chief executive of Tell MAMA.
      Mughal accused the government of failing to deal with the problem of anti-Muslim sentiments, saying his charity has repeatedly tried, prior to the attacks, to seek support from the Department for Education (DfE) in offering training on how to deal with Islamophobia.

      In addition, teachers’ unions and anti-racism groups said they have seen a rise in anti-Muslim incidents in schools, with the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) saying the increasing Islamophobic sentiments are causing “uncertainty and fear” in schools.
      The NASUWT also said anti-Muslims sentiment in wider society was a growing problem for schools and the issue is needed to be treated as a “priority.”
      The DfE responded to the criticism by admitting that it did not provide specific advice on Islamophobia. The department added that it does not accept any kind of bullying at schools.

      The westerner public are so brainwashed it will take miracles to change the views they have especial about Islam.They rarely know anything about other countries,the majority of the public believe and follow their media, and media feed the public what they want them to hear.The westerners don’t have to follow their media only, because of Internet and satellites channels are so available and cheap. The west public needs to be aware who are these people who are causing the world’s problems.Are the Muslims or the group of people who have a sinister agenda-.
      IA
      http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

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