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Islamophobia in the Media Since 911 Christopher All En

Islamophobia in the Media Since 911 Christopher All En

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Published by: azkado on Aug 16, 2009
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Page 1 of 10
Christopher Allen, September 2001
Islamophobia in the MediasinceSeptember 11th
Christopher Allen
Deepening Our Understanding of Islam and Muslims 
Saturday 29
September 2001, 9am – 6pmUniversity of Westminister, School of Law, 4-12 Little Titchfield StreetLondon W1R 7FWA conference jointly organised by the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism, CityCircle and Ar-Rum to complement the BBC’s Season on ‘Islam UK’. It is part-sponsoredby Al-Khoei Foundation, London.
Page 2 of 10
Christopher Allen, September 2001
Our newspapers and television screens have again shown us images of Muslimmen burning American flags whilst brandishing rifles, juxtaposed with angryyoung men shouting outside a north London mosque. Afghan women coveredfrom head to toe in the burqha followed by women wearing the hijab protestingagainst military action outside the Pakistan embassy in London. And amongst allthis, we are shown images of Muslim children holding placards bearing the faceof Osama bin Laden on the streets of Islamabad.Headlines proclaim "This fanaticism that we in the West can never understand","Praise to Allah - dancing with joy the warrior race of fanatics born to detest theWest" and "In the heart of London demands for a Holy War".These are not headlines and images that are the exception to the rule, nor arethey a result of years of studying Islamophobia in the media. Instead these are just a small sample of many similar examples that have been prolificallyemblazoned across front pages and shown across our screens since theatrocities in America just over two weeks ago.For some time now, the Muslim community and some interested others havebelieved that the media's portrayal and representation of Islam and been one ofthe most prevalent, virulent and socially significant sources of Islamophobia inthis country.This is not to say that the media are the cause of Islamophobia. However, it isfair to state that it is the most accessible and indiscriminate disseminator of suchideas in our global environment. Just looking through the 'Middle England'newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express both of whose readership TonyBlair is currently trying to woo, in the week following the attacks would no doubtconvince any who might in any way question this situation.
Page 3 of 10
Christopher Allen, September 2001
Whilst some media sources and publications have tried to act with responsibilityin realising the implications of such discrimination, certain specific and oftenpredictable sources have been actively incorporating the most explicitexpressions of Islamophobia into their coverage deeming their actionsirresponsible, prejudicial, inciteful and more directly, extremely dangerous. Whatthey have wholeheartedly reinforced is what I would suggest is the mostdangerous aspect of Islamophobia; that Islam is entirely unidimensional andmonolithic without any internal differentiation or opinion. Through indiscriminatelysaddling stories about Muslims in Afghanistan and Palestine with similar storiesof Muslims in Britain, both the press and the wider media have deliberatelyoverlooked the diversity that exists in both the British and global Islamiccommunity. As such, it attributes to all Muslims the entire spectrum of negativecharacteristics that are fundamental to Islamophobia.So whilst we are immune to reading the coupling of Islamic or Muslim with theinappropriate terms of 'extremist', 'fundamentalist', 'fanatic' and 'terrorist', its mostrecent repetitious usage has underlined a new development. Whilst the intimationhas always been that Islam is the enemy of the West, the most recent usage of'fanatic' and so on is confirming that these same Muslim 'threats' are not only inBritish society, but are now also willing to do the same to their British hosts asthey did the Americans. For the majority of the British media, this has beenstated and subsequently reiterated in a way that stresses that this is probable ofALL Muslims.If we can trust the reports that say that Muslim men did hijack the passenger jets,then yes Muslims did perpetrate these crimes. However, these Muslims arelimited to a specific number and until the widespread use of one's religiousadherence becomes a vital and necessary factor in describing any individual orgroup that is featured in a news story, then the belief that Islam is being unfairlytargeted will remain valid. Until we are informed that Jewish Israeli guards haveopened fire on the West Bank or that Roman Catholic Basque separatists are

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