Weekly column by Yasin Bangee
Those of you that have the pleasure of following me on twitter will have noticed how my rage levels have kicked up a notch since I started writing about Islamophobia, racism and the British media.
As part of my week at work I was *asked* to read newspapers for blogging material. This exposed me to hate pages from The Sun, Mirror, Telegraph and everyone’s favourite go to for facts and reasoned debate, The Daily Mail.
Aside from the usual misogyny, bigotry and racism, I came across a fantastic set of news, and lack of coverage. Before I kick off with Islamophobia this is not a discussion on the pros and cons of Islam. This is a look at race.
Smart arses will giggle, convinced “It’s not racist to criticise Islam” but when the victims of Islamophobia are, for use of Nick Robinson’s catchphrase, “Of Muslim appearance”, how can you claim race plays no part?
Hijabi women, brown men, black people, anyone of a Middle Eastern descent. They’re the one’s targeted post Woolwich in some patriotic reclamation of British Imperialism. Aside from schools and mosques bombed (yes, fire bombed!), the media decided to offer a snippet in some papers and almost no coverage in others (such as the Mail).
Newspapers have such wide readership, and the Sun in particular is the best selling print media in the UK. What they report on (and don’t report on) shapes the views of many people. By failing to give appropriate cover to the wide rise of Islamophobia the media is ignoring a real and present issue for many British Muslims, and for many minorities who face the gaze of fascism.
Indeed the Telegraph prepared a fascist apologist piece in the wake of Woolwich, and amidst reports from Tell Mama, a service which logs anti Muslim attacks, of hundreds of instances of abuse/attacks suffered by Muslims post Woolwich.
Here is the piece – Muslim hate monitor to lose backing
The language is telling. “16% of attacks could not be verified” – “only 8% involved physical confrontation” – “57% of attacks took place online”. As though any of that is okay.
Despite the fact that racist insignia has been left on Islamic buildings around the UK the Telegraph has decided to focus on the victims rather than the perps.
Islamophobia is fed directly through what the media reports and does not report. In the wake of terrorism Muslim leaders organise peace marches, invite community leaders to calm tensions and hell, men took to the streets of Bradford to sell poppies. Despite all this, the media turns towards Anjem Choudary as its token Muslim mouthpiece. It’s like painting Nick Griffin as the solitary white voice in the UK. This blatant inflammatory response is to get readers to pick up papers. “Look at what the weird brown person is spouting this time!”.
Choudary is to Islam what Tommy Robinson is to white Britons. To pretend otherwise is prejudicial, based on stereotypes and association.
When C4 decided to air prayer calls at 3am this week the media reaction was pathetic. Despite very few people being affected a huge storm kicked off, with shouts of pandering to multiculturism and demands of “Why no focus on other faiths on telly?” For further nonsense (and some witty takeover) see #boycottchannel4 on twitter.
As stupid as the reaction is I do wish C4 had exercised some discretion. What the media toys with in terms of Islam, Islamophobia and race is acted out in real life. A lot of the myths surrounding Islam is over its takeover of Britain. Britain has a 92% white population, over 40000 churches and under 1000 mosques. Half of all British mosques have faced attack since 9/11 and no one seems to think this is newsworthy.
C4 enjoy the controversy and the attention but ordinary Muslims face the attacks and the hate. We walk into newsagents and see
The Sun prints a massive front page hate piece and claims “this could inflame tensions”. Irony.
I just don’t know how else to raise racism and the media. Of course the media is racist. They pander to a white majority readership and the white majority readership needs a minority group to blame for society’s woes.
Great Britain; the only industry on the up are food banks, and victims are carted in ready by the media to blame. The Tory government is desperate for a distraction and Woolwich offered an alternative, served on a silver platter.
You may claim that’s offensive to the memory of Lee Rigby but I point you to the EDL, BNP and crack downs on migrants in the wake of Woolwich as proof. 2013 Britain sees fascist marches, anti fascist arrests and a media hell bent on fanning the flames of hate, in chase of profit, in chase of something more insidious.
I don’t want retractions and corrections or apologies. Print media like the Sun has to stop. The focus is on page 3 but the racism and hate spread from Page 1-2 and 4 onwards needs stamping out. The Mail acts beyond parody and finds more and more creative ways to incite violence. The nuanced high brow broadsheets may offer high brow bigotry painted as critical analysis. An hour after Breivik ruined Oslo the Guardian had a piece up and ready blaming Islam for the attack. 3 hours later the piece was gone.
Islamophobia is racist.
I will leave you with this quote from a study looking at Muslim coverage by the media.
“Two-thirds [of stories] focused on terrorism or cultural differences, and much of it used words such as militancy, radicalism and fundamentalist.”