Islamophobia and the Media: written evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia

Further to my previous support for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia, I was recently invited to present written and oral evidence at the APPG’s forthcoming meeting focusing on the role and impact of the media on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate.

The meeting will focus on the question “Do the media in Britain deliberately perpetrate an ‘us-them’ mentality between society and Muslims?” and will be held from 6-7pm on Wednesday, 24th October in the House of Commons. It is my understanding that the meeting is open to the public.

Due to personal circumstances, I am unable to attend the meeting and offer oral evidence.However, I have submitted written evidence and have a colleague representing me during the discussions. As part of this, I have pulled together the following headline research findings from the past decade:

The role and impact of the media is “contentious and debatable”
74% of the British public claim that they know ‘nothing or next to nothing about Islam’
64% of the British public claim that what they do know is ‘acquired through the media’
Research from 2006 suggests that the press coverage relating to Muslims and Islam in British national newspapers had increased by approximately 270% over preceding decade
91% of that coverage was deemed negative
84% of press coverage represented Islam and Muslims either as ‘likely to cause damage or danger’ or as ‘operating in a time of intense difficulty or danger’
Research from 2008 once again confirmed that the press coverage of British Muslims had increased significantly since 2000, peaking in 2006, and remaining at high levels in 2007 and 2008
2008 was shown to be the first year in which the ‘volume of stories about religious and cultural differences (32% of stories by 2008) overtook terrorism related stories (27% by 2008)’
Research from 2007 set out that the consequences of this type of media coverage was:
• Likely to provoke and increase feelings of insecurity, suspicion and anxiety amongst non-Muslims;
• Likely to provoke feelings of insecurity, vulnerability and alienation amongst Muslims, and in this way to weaken the Government’s measures to reduce and prevent extremism;
• Unlikely to help diminish levels of hate crime and acts of unlawful discrimination by non-Muslims against Muslims;
• Likely to be a major barrier preventing the success of the Government’s community cohesion policies and programmes;
• Unlikely to contribute to informed discussion and debate amongst Muslims and non-Muslims about ways of working together to maintain and develop Britain as a multicultural, multi-faith democracy.

To download a pdf copy of the full written evidence, click here. All references to the above headline findings are also set out in the document.


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