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Islam and the Media (14 Feb 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Why Muslims Need Their Own Media House

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

14 February 2017

It is rather astounding that Indian Muslims, the second largest Muslim population in the world, does not have a single mainstream media outlet which can adequately represent them. Over the years, this need has been specifically felt but hardly anything has been done in this direction. Of course there are a couple of news websites which tell us stories about Muslim lives which the mainstream media ignores. They do a commendable job and more is expected from them. But the question remains as to why there is not a single mainstream Muslim newspaper or television channel? Muslims certainly are not short of funds and if they want they can certainly come up with a viable working solution to this problem.

It is a legitimate question to ask why we need such a channel at all. After all there are mainstream news organizations who tell us stories about Muslim lives too. So why should the Muslims have their own newspaper or television channel. What purpose is it going to serve? These are valid questions but then there are deeper reasons as to why there should be Muslim presence within the Indian media. For one, most media outlets report Muslim stories from two very different angles. One is if there is a national angle involved.

Thus report about arrested youth from Muslim community in terror related activities will be prominently flashed in the media. But there are hardly any tough questions asked. The police version is taken as ‘interim truth’ and perhaps our media houses do not think that there is any further cross questioning required. Thus it is an oft repeated pattern that Muslim convictions are over reported but there is hardly any reportage when an accused is let off after decades of incarceration which completely devastates their lives.

Muslims are also reported in the mainstream media through their ‘peculiarities’, particularly in terms of their religion. Thus stories on triple Talaq, polygamy and such issues gain wide prominence within the mainstream media. A bit of research would tell us that polygamy is more among Hindu castes than Muslims, but when there is a discourse of relating a community to the practice of its religion, and then all facts and figures are given a go by. The problem is compounded by the well-entrenched belief among the media establishment that Muslims are best represented by the Ulema.

And thus we have in television studios Muslim religious clerics who through their ignorance and trying to reduce everything to religion, end up giving a bad name to Muslims. In fact they end up reproducing the dominant stereotypes about Muslims as an essentially backward community with a regressive faith. All these factors point towards the need that Indian Muslims must have representation of their own.

It is not that Muslims do not have their own newspapers. The problem is that most of them are in Urdu and are thus inaccessible to vast majority of people in this country including Muslims. Moreover these newspapers do not raise everyday Muslim concerns but are focussed on issues related to Muslim identity and religion. In a way they complement the efforts of mainstream Indian newspapers.

 The English language newspaper, which has now ceased production, the Milli Gazette, also suffered from the same problem. It was so ideological in its content that anything remotely critical of the Muslim community did not find space in its pages. Its editor rued the fact that despite the capacity, Muslims did not save the newspaper from getting into oblivion.

The bigger problem was not finance but a liberal ethos which was lacking from the pages of this newspaper. I remember that the newspaper ran a campaign for nearly two weeks over the Imrana issue. But the whole point of this campaign was to belittle this problem within Muslim society by pointing to lacunae in Imrana’s version. The whole issue, according to this newspaper, was created to malign the image of Islam and Muslims. If a newspaper is run through such a sectarian lens, then it is better that it has closed down. Muslims are better off without this newspaper.

It is interesting to note that one newspaper controlled by Muslims has broken the shell of this religious communitarian myopia. Madhyamam, the newspaper controlled by Jamaat e Islami, Kerala is one the largest circulating dailies available in a language accessible to all. The paper is run by a professional staff which means that most of those who run the show are not Muslims themselves. And yet, today it has a decisive say in Kerala on how Muslims are to be represented and what needs to be discussed. Such a state of affairs has only happened due to the ‘liberalism’ of an Islamist organization which is sadly missing in other parts of India.


Arshad Alam is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-the-media/arshad-alam,-new-age-islam/why-muslims-need-their-own-media-house/d/110073

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  • To Arshad Alam.
    You should put your bit of research existing amount Hindus rather than vague statement. 
    Just realase the SoSha and work is done, Arshad Alam is doing that through this website.

    Indian Muslim hardly use polygamy as method of living so do Hindus, it is not widespread practise as in Arab countries, and there are always fringe case in any part of the world.

    Ulemas and mullas take part in media discussion to make it this practise work again a  Arab Culture( one my NAI comentators admires it), they are Saudi Arabia funded, more they discuss more they can slowly start to introduce polygamy in minds of Muslim as normal practise.

    India had widespread problem of triple Talaq not polygamy.

    By Aayina - 2/15/2017 3:38:51 PM

  • This article raises a crucial question! Rather than owning a separate media house, Muslims need to sensitise mainstream media on how to deal with issues concerning them. 
    By Meera - 2/15/2017 7:56:56 AM

  • There are hardly any media outlets of integrity, as it is. People like Seema Mustafa and Siddharth Varadarajan are now on the internet with small operations. One might approach some of the liberal Muslim philanthropists such as Azim Premji and Yusuf Hamied to set up a commercial media house that stands for integrity. It would fill a real need, and not just for Muslims.  
    By Syed A R Zaidi - 2/15/2017 1:48:46 AM

  • This is as stupid as saying that Hindus must have their own mainstream newspaper, Sikhs must have their own, Dalits must have their own, Jains must have their own - mainstream newspaper! Or that there should be a mainstream news organisation from mainly a women's point of view! For sector specific news we have niche publications. You have tonnes of newspapers and news and entertainment channels catering to muslim audiences. You have Al Jazeera. In Indian media, the Muslim community is over-represented. The editor of IE, if I am not mistaken, is a Muslim person. The rest of the media has pro-Muslim leanings and handles it with kid gloves. As far as possible, it avoids giving coverage to atrocities committed by Muslims. Now if Muslims do stuff and if it gets reported in media, you are complaining? What do you want - that muslim bad behavior should not be reported? If you want good reports about you do good things. Azim Premji, Abdul Kalam, all get/got good press. Even that Muslim girl who topped a Gita competetion. In fact, media jumps upon any good stories concerning muslims. Too bad you do not provide enough of them.
    By secularlogic - 2/15/2017 12:59:48 AM

  • The article is good and points towards a reality. But the issue is that in the quest to be liberal the (new) medium/media should not start playing the anti-Islamic card. At present exactly this is happening. Most writers and columnists who claim to be liberals start their writings by condemning certain facets of Islam and Muslims. Especially, they are highly critical to Ulema & religious educational institutions. That creates imbalance. Ulema have their own place in the Muslim society. But they should not be portrayed as the sole guardians of the Muslim society/community. Others should get equal importance.
    Another issue is that Muslim thinkers should not feel guilty of being Muslim. I find most of them starting with the theme that they are not 'fundamentalists'. There is nothing wrong in being fundamentalist. The word has been given a 'meaning' which it does not deserve. It actually means "a person who believes in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture in a religion.". Obviously, nothing wrong in it. But we try to become defensive as soon as the term is used and we start condemning the Ulema and religious institutions.

    By Dr. M.A. Haque - 2/14/2017 11:58:00 PM

  • The moral duty in journalism has more or less been a matter of history as the media is now-a-days working under the influence of the political leaders or the current governments. They are broadcasting the news that is widely being liked and watvhed by the majority population anywhere in the world. The ISI connection of the BJP leaders is hardly shown on any news channel and if any news channel shows it, then there comes VijayVarghese's denial that it's ISI organisation which is hiring the Hindus now. The Muslims need to run their own media which may bring the facts and figures in their true sense. 
    By Raihan Nezami - 2/14/2017 10:45:44 PM

  • we already have al jazeera.
    By hats off! - 2/14/2017 7:13:43 PM

  • As soon as a newspaper is identified as a "Muslim" publication, it ceases to be "mainstream" (except perhaps in Kerala). Even non-mainstream newspapers have a useful role to play, although we wish they were more liberal/progressive in their outlook.

    As far as the major mainstream media are concerned, liberal/progressive Muslim writers should more aggressively submit their articles to them. Such media should also be encouraged to appoint liberal/progressive Muslims as assistant editors or senior correspondents who should then be given a reasonable degree of autonomy.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 2/14/2017 11:29:27 AM

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