The focus on Islam and Muslims around the world is still intense. Over the last two decades, international media coverage of Islam and Muslims has been overwhelmingly negative, stereotypical, inaccurate – and, some claim, racist. The problem is so bad that in 2013 a range of journalists and editors from across print and broadcasting media in the UK insisted that the Leveson Inquiry should investigate how to hold the media to account for this shocking lapse in journalistic standards.
But what does this negative media coverage mean for Muslims in the UK?
Does this impact us on a daily basis? The answer is yes. It fuels anger towards Muslims. There has been a documented rise in attacks against Muslims and Mosques in the UK.
It also leads to sensational questions, the very ones posed by the media, filtering into our everyday lives. Colleagues at work, fellow students and even neighbours ask us those questions. In most cases, not out of any hostility towards Islam and Muslims but rather to try and understand what they have heard or read in the media.
“Do Muslims hate gay people?”
“Are women forced to cover up?”
“Does it really say in the Quran that Muslims can kill non-Muslims?”
“Can a Muslim man beat his wife?”
“Islam is a backward religion, why do you follow it?”
Often these questions catch us unprepared. And in many cases we are not able to articulate our answers in an intellectually satisfactory and persuasive manner. Islam encompasses guidance on every aspect of our lives and perhaps whilst we have spent time and effort in acquiring knowledge of aspects that affect us every day (like salah, fasting etc.) we have not given much thought to the areas of Islam that are too often sensationalised by the media.
Here is an opportunity to explore those issues in depth and under the guidance of Muslim scholars. Equip yourself with knowledge about these issues so that you can articulate answers that will extinguish the fuel powered by negative media coverage. Give your friends, colleagues and neighbours informed answers about Islam and Muslims so that they too can see the true beauty of Islam and how Islam contributes to a harmonious society. Don’t let the discussion about Islam and Muslims be had without the Muslim voice being present.
Give them the truth. It’s time for some straight talk.
We will be covering a selection of the following topics: