This Week in Islamophobia

by Yasin Bangee

Two media items from the last week caught my eye and had me thinking of a brilliant @WritersofColour campaign #AllWhiteFrontPages to showcase the ubiquity of “white news”.

Whilst it’s clear to all that white news is front page news (and prominent on visual and online media), under what circumstances would a minority ever make the front page?

I mentioned in a previous article that an overwhelming amount of coverage of Muslims in print media was in a negative tone. A particular quote,

Two-thirds [of stories] focused on terrorism or cultural differences, and much of it used words such as militancy, radicalism and fundamentalist.”

seems shocking but minorities have always been easy game. Our differences are easy to jump on, and in tough times it is these differences that have us viewed with suspicion.

The Sun

We’re told on a daily basis how “no right minded people would read The Sun” but is that true? With a daily readership running into the millions The Sun shapes political views all over the country. This week they waded into the niqab debate with a provocative and offensive front page.

sunfrontpageIf you view that front page the words “BAN, UNVEILED, DEMAND and JUDGE ORDERS WOMAN” leap out. The stock photo of a Muslim woman with just her eyes visible lurks behind those inflammatory words.

When a minority, and a minority woman at that, makes the front page it’s in an image like this. Subservient, oppressed and needing rescuing. Ignore that the Sun displays unbelievable levels of misogyny throughout its publication, front pages like this turns the spotlight on Muslim women. I’ve previously written how white lead discussion over the niqab, hijab and other Islamic clothing results in physical and verbal attacks on Muslim women. But in the “name of freedom” I suppose that’s just a minor inconvenience.

On a side point, what makes those chaps who run The Sun think Muslim women (or women in general) owe them anything? Why must they be fully visible? Is their word not enough, in court? Is their identity, verified at an airport by an airport security personnel who happens to be a woman, not accurate? What gives Joe Bloggs standing in an airport queue the right to see the woman in front of him without her scarf, niqab, hijab, shawl, sunglasses etc etc etc? Is his personal security so fragile, in this male dominated world, that he finds the idea of a woman exercising her right to wear what she wants so threatening.

Give over

The security of this country doesn’t depend on whether a woman has her face covered or uncovered.

The Evening Standard

And on the topic of security, here’s the front page The Evening Standard ran with when releasing it’s “Special Report” on “Gangs in London”.

evening standard front page_large The content aside (laughably bad with cliché’s including “hood”), look at that front page. 4 hooded dark men.

As any person of minority colour will tell you, the pressure to act white is incredible. Should we show any hint of our own culture we’re viewed with suspicion and hostility. A good friend (@Judeinlondon) recently brought up the history of black hair and the absurd attention that it attracts.

Minorities can no longer express their culture (niqab, salwar, afro, specific body modifications) without westerners viewing this as a political message. We’re told to fall in line, to suppress any individuality linked with heritage and to waft around in a blend of River Island nonsense.

That front page is offensive for the idea that dark skinned youths in hoods are gang members. How frequently do we see that image? How ingrained in western culture is the idea that all black men are threatening, that we *must* cross the street when we see a group of them walking towards us?

This racist indoctrination is aided by front pages like The Sun and like The Evening Standard who put minorities on the front page to fuel more hate and ignorance.

Yasin Bangee is a writer based in the North West. He writes about his main passions, football, social justice and inequality, and offers thoughts on all things political. As a a British Muslim he has first hand experience of the rise and impact of Islamophobia. Archive of his column This Week in IslamophobiaFind his writing at False7andahalf

2 thoughts on “When Minorities Make The Front Page

  1. Totally agree. This is my comment from the thread on #AllWhiteFrontPages:What I’d like to find out is when people of colour ARE featured on the front pages of newspapers-what are the stories about? It’s great to have people of colour on front pages, but wouldn’t the point of the campaign be lost if most of the articles about them are negative? (The one that springs to mind this week is the news about the Mark Duggan trial, which consistently has his image next to captions about gun crime). Then again a couple of weeks ago, there was a front page article on the youngest Briton ever to be called to the bar and she was black: http://www.theguardian.com/law/shortcuts/2013/aug/11/britain-youngest-barrister-gabrielle-turnquest Would still be interesting to see how frequent positive stories such as the young barrister are as opposed to stories about gun crime, crime and general bad behaviour…

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    1. #AllWhiteFrontPages is a good hashtag, popular, eye catching, the organisation is here to signal boost the writing of people of colour and get their work in to the mainstream which will help not only with representation but with content. ‘Media cannot reflect society, if society is not reflected in the media’. We don’t have the resources to do a study like the one you suggest but please feel free to donate if you’d like us to get there one day! Thanks

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