BBC London: "Muslims ‘demonised’ by UK media"

This is an article about a piece of work that I was commissioned to undertake for the Greater London Authority back in the spring of 2006. It has finally been published today. USe the widget to the right to open the article in a new window…

Muslims are being “demonised” by the British media, with 91% of reports being negative, research commissioned by London’s mayor has found.

Ken Livingstone said the survey, by consultancy firm Insted, studied a week’s news reports and found Islam was portrayed as a “threat to the West”.

Another poll published on Tuesday found that at least 35% of Londoners held Islam responsible for the 7/7 attacks.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the Evening Standard, spoke to 701 people.

Mr Livingstone said the research by Insted – a consultancy firm which deals with issues of diversity and equality – found the national media had a “hostile and scaremongering attitude” towards the community.

Mr Livingstone said: “The overall picture presented by the media is that Islam is profoundly different from and a threat to the West.

“I think there is a demonisation of Islam going on which damages community relations and creates alarm among Muslims,” he said.

Mr Livingstone urged editors to be balanced in their coverage saying out of 352 articles studied by researchers last year just 4% were positive.

The Evening Standard poll asked 701 people about issues and attitudes towards Islam, wearing the veil and faith schools.

The poll found about a third of those questioned wanted political groups “promoting fundamentalist Islamic agendas” banned.

While more than half of those interviewed said Muslims in London were “isolated” from others, about 50% thought Islam was a “generally intolerant faith”.

Regarding veils, at least eight out of 10 people said neither students nor teachers should be allowed to wear the veil in school.

On faith schools, some 20% of the respondents wanted faith schools to be “encouraged”, 10% wanted their numbers to be reduced and one in three wanted them banned.

Another poll, carried out by Ipsos-Mori on behalf of the Greater London Authority (GLA) and published on Monday, found 86% of Muslims in the city and 91% of other Londoners strongly felt that the police needed to work closely with the community.


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