Briefing: Manifestations of Intolerance Against Muslims: Public Spaces, Political Narratives & Media in the UK – 10th Anniversary of OSCE’s Cordoba Conference & Declaration, Vienna Austria

reportIn preparation of my presentation at tomorrow’s conference in Vienna, Austria marking the 10th Anniversary of the OSCE’s Cordoba Conference and Declaration, I drew together a short briefing paper which expands on the main themes and ideas that I will be putting forward. Reflective and drawing on many of the issues that I have explored previously in my research, the paper can be downloaded by clicking here.

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Part 2: Islamophobia in the Media – Written Evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia

Further to yesterday’s post relating to the written evidence I submitted to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia in relation to the media representation of Muslims and Islam, today I am uploading a recording of the oral evidence I submitted.

Some might find it useful to have a copy of the written evidence with them when listening to the recording due to the references being made. If you want to do so, you can download this from here.

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: Continue reading “Islamophobia and the Media: written evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia”

Eastenders shows that Muslims are human…it’s Islamophobic !!!

Having been researching the representation of Muslims and Islam in the media for about the last eight years, I was amazed at a recent story that has hit the news.

The BBC has received 107 complaints – I’m guessing primarily from Muslims – about an episode of ‘Eastenders‘ that was broadcast in September. In the episode, Albert Square resident, Masood Ahmed (played by Nitin Ganatra) who is also a Muslim was seen eating during the day by Ian and Jane Beale in the month of Ramadan (for those who don’t know what this means, a short explanation about Ramadan is included at the end of this post).

As the BBC reported on their website (click here to read):

The BBC said the scene was supposed to show Massod’s “fallibilities” and did not “represent the entire British-Asian or British Muslim experience”.

“Although Masood is a practising Muslim, he has his own fallibilities as a human being,” it said in a statement.

“He’s a fictional character with flaws who realises he has let himself down in a moment of weakness.

“We would like to assure viewers it was not our intention to insult Muslim or Islamic values.”

First, well done to the BBC for not ‘apologising’. As the BBC put it, the show is about ‘his own fallibilities as a human being’. This is what all soaps are about. If those complaining were to be realistic, without human fallibilities, soaps wouldn’t have story-lines. If you want to complain about fallibilities, then why not complain about the Beales, the Mitchells etc…?

Second, do these complainants really believe that ALL Muslims fast during Ramadan? Walking through the Bull Ring Centre in Birmingham during Ramadan, I stood behind a young Muslim hijabi on the escalator who was eating a bag of Walkers crisps. Whilst the hijab provided an interesting juxtaposition with the crisp during Ramadan, I didn’t see anyone suddenly rushing up to the young hijabi to reprimand her or complain about her behaviour. And quite rightly so. She wasn’t the only Muslim during Ramadan – in the Bull Ring or indeed elsewhere – that didn’t fast. Unsurprisingly, not all Muslims are perfect and indeed, not all of them aspire to be.

Finally, complaining about Muslims being represented as ‘real’ people is a massive faux pas. For years, Muslim groups and various researchers – both Muslim and non – have been trying to construct a clear picture and coherent argument about how the media unfairly and stereotypically represent Muslims and Islam. When the media do then represent what some Muslims do in reality – that they are indeed human – the media are inundated with complaints wanting something else. Suggesting that ALL Muslims fast throughout Ramadan is as inaccurate as suggesting that ALL Muslims are supportive of terrorism.

This raises a handful of questions…

Does this type of representation really distort the religion and practice of Islam?

No.

Does it undermine or negate Islam?

No.

Is it, after many years of negative stereotyping and denigratory representations, a fair and reflective presentation of Muslims being as human as you and I?

Yes. Of course it is.

Since the publication of the Runnymede Trust’s report into Islamophobia in 1997, the reality of Islamophobia has been contested by those that suggest that it is little more than a shield against which fair and accurate criticism is deflected.

Suggesting that Eastenders’ representation is negative, stereotypical or even Islamophobic is farcical and completely unfounded. Continuing to do so will merely provide the detractors and critics of Islamophobia with further evidence against which they will try and undermine the valuable work that those who advocate and champion the addressing of Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination and racism.

Let’s be real. Because for once, the media have.

About Ramadan (reproduced courtesy of Wikipedia)

Ramadan or Ramazan is a Muslim religious observance that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar: the month in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is the Islamic month of fasting (sawm), in which participating Muslims do not eat or drink anything from true dawn until sunset.

Creative Commons License

This work by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Based on a work at www.chris-allen.co.uk.