A cartoon published by the Telegraph has been accused of being Islamophobic. It’s not difficult to see why:
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) September 9, 2018
The cartoon appears to be depicting the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. This presumably follows on from the Telegraph front page of 8 September:
Lol this is about a single Press TV reporter being at a CLP meeting as an ordinary member pic.twitter.com/Ruesy5IMAA
— Abi (@AbiWilks) September 7, 2018
The conspiracy that Labour has been infiltrated by the Iranian regime seems a bit far-fetched, however:
Moving past the Info Wars style conspiracy theory, people have accused the image of being Islamophobic:
Defenders may argue that the man on the right is specifically the Iranian president – not just a random Muslim. There’d be problems with this reading.
Although Iran is often raised as an existential threat to the West, our media doesn’t put much focus on the country’s politics. It’s safe to assume most Britons have no idea what the Iranian President looks like. Most will simply see a Muslim.
Even if people do recognise Rouhani, political cartoons work on a symbolic and literal level. Just as the attack dog is a stand-in for Momentum, it’s easy to see Rouhani standing in for all Muslims. This is ‘dog whistle racism’ – when a bigoted message is there for those who are listening for it.
By way of comparison, there was a story that broke in 2017 about Israel interfering in UK politics. In response to that story, you could have done a reverse of the Telegraph cartoon if you switched Corbyn and the centrists; replaced Momentum with Labour Friends of Israel, and swapped Rouhani for Benjamin Netanyahu. People would rightly lambast such an image as antisemitic, especially if Netanyahu was depicted as being obviously Jewish in a kippah or tallit.
Sadly, in the UK media, the same scrutiny rarely applies to Islamophobia.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Featured image via screengrab
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.