Saturday, 18 September 2010

Another Islamophobic Non-story

If you happened to see Saturday's Daily Express headline, it ran: “MUSLIM PLOT TO KILL POPE”.

Millions would have seen the sensationalist headline. It goes without saying the story is a flunk, and the BBC have confirmed that the plot was nothing more than a few street cleaners joking in the work canteen.

It was barely a story from the beginning. There were no formal allegations, nothing about the motivation of the individuals or even their identity other than nationality.

Yet the Express, like a rabid dog, jumped at the story and made it headline. And not only that, they associated it with a whole faith - ‘Muslim plot’. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that The Telegraph and others who went as far as to identify them as ‘Islamists’.

And despite the prominence of the news story on Saturday, there will be no front page headline saying “CORRECTION – NO MUSLIM PLOT TO KILL POPE” in the Sunday Express. The damage will be done and the public (at least those gullible enough to trust the Express) will consume another morsel of fake-news that adds to the existing Islamophobia.

Muslim communities in the UK (and indeed elsewhere) must engage with the media. First, to contest inflammatory and inaccurate reports. Second, to encourage more positive reporting of Muslim communities and finally, to begin producing media and news outlets that paint a more unprejudiced and unbiased picture.

The burden of responsibility also falls upon level headed journalists to ensure they at least do not add to the problem, and work to counter it - I've been told that the journalist who reports not for a pay cheque but due to a sincere belief in informing the public still exists (or perhaps they're all bloggers now).

And finally, there is much to be expected from our politicians; members of parliament as well as assembly members, to protect their communities against the growing tide of Islamophobia in the UK.

Rant over.

1 comment:

  1. I think Muslims everywhere held their breath collectively when stories like this hit the web& newspapers. It's so frustrating that I actually don't even glance at newspaper headlines anymore, ignorance is obviously a terrible thing but I've stopped caring about how the world seems me& my religion. I've just made a promise to care about how I present myself & behave responsibly- every little helps, eh?