This Week in Islamophobia
by Yasin Bangee
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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 Islamophobia‘ Find his writing at False7andahalf
- The veil debate: why we must respect the autonomy of all women (thefword.org.uk)
- Have you ever met a woman in a niqab? Has one ever harmed you? (newstatesman.com)
- Why we wear the veil: The women that choose to do so on why it is so important to them (independent.co.uk)