Following a complaint to the press regulation body IPSO, the Mail on Sunday has finally apologised for their inflammatory headline and article on “Muslim gang slashes tyres of immigration-raid van”.
This article is one of a large number of occurrences, in which the usage of terms such as Islam or Muslims have been increasingly utilised in the media as descriptive terms to generate sensationalism when the faith of the individual or group in question has little to do with the story. Another example that can be cited is the Edmonton, north London murder, in which it was reported that a ‘Muslim convert beheads in garden’. However it has been evidenced recently that the individual in question was schizophrenic. Just some months back, on Twitter #KillAllMuslims was trending. This is appalling and should never have been the case. Furthermore, JAN Trust and our Director, Sajda Mughal OBE, have been subjected to Islamophobic death threats and abuse. Things like this are detrimental to community cohesion. Therefore we believe that it is high time for the media to address their misrepresentation of Muslims and its impact on wider society.
Data from the report commissioned by the Mayor of London on ‘The search for common ground Muslims, non-Muslims and the UK media,’ found that over 90% of reports about Muslims took a negative angle and played up faith, even when irrelevant. Furthermore, according to the Metropolitan police there has been an increase in hate crimes against Muslims in London by over 70% within the last year. Moreover, a survey of 6000 school children found that 35% agreed or partly agreed “Muslims are taking over our country,” and a survey conducted by YouGov with 1,750 respondents, had found that 37% of respondents would be more likely to support a political party that promised to reduce the number of Muslims in Britain and the presence of Islam in society. In addition, data from JAN Trust demonstrates that there has been a 65% increase in Islamophobic incidences over the last 3 years reported to us by Muslim women. Is it unreasonable to argue that the role of the media in their representation of Muslims has been a significant contributing factor to the spread of bigotry and Islamophobia within recent years? One could argue due to the evidence highlighted that it is not, and therefore more needs to be done to offset this.
First and foremost, the misconceptions about Islam and Muslims have to be addressed, and more awareness around the subject needs to be raised. Our work at JAN Trust has been pivotal in addressing these issues. Through our work, providing workshops that train and educate thousands of participants from the community, voluntary and statutory sectors on issues to do with hate crime; we have been at the forefront in challenging the preconceived biases that people may have in regards to Islam and Muslims.
But we need your support to continue this vital work.
To support our work, and for further information please visit: http://saynotohatecrime.org/