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Islam and the Media (28 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Why Islam and Muslims Need a Fair Media

By Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

28 March 2017

Haq Se Agar Gharz Hai To Zaiba Hai Kya Ye Baat

Islam Ka Muhasiba, Yourap Se Darguzar!

(And if your goal be truth, Is this the right road—

Europe’s faults all glossed, and all Islam’s held to so strict an audit?)

-Sir Muhammad Iqbal 


In an ideal world, journalism is a profession of incredible integrity. Good journalists are amongst the most dexterous and skilled people in the world—and also the most respected. We have all benefited from the work of indefatigable journalists who put life, limb, family and even sanity on the line for the truth. There is no sane, decent, and democratic polity possible without journalists who challenge power, relentlessly pursue and disseminate the truth, and then find the next story to tell .

 The press once seemed to have a conscience, thanks to history's painful social conflicts and questions of war and peace. The world has changed, however, and many of us may be in the time warp of old values. Like all institutions, the media has also suffered in terms of its reputation. Values are not what matter most, In an age of social media, where stories can go viral in much shorter spaces of time than before, one would think that it would become ever more important from an ethical point of view for stories to be contextualized and reported accurately.

The most   vulnerable victims of an increasingly invidious media are Islam and its adherents.     Muslims continue to be projected as uniformly fundamentalist, violent, and anti-secular. The terms Islamic or Muslim are regularly identified with extremism, militancy and jihads as if they are organically related. (Muslim extremist, Islamic terror, Islamic war, Muslim time bomb)

In addition to the media, scholarship often pays limited attention to the debates that Muslims have amongst themselves about Islam, what it means to be Muslim, how Muslims deal with differences amongst themselves and their diverse  understandings of Islam, . There is a strong voice of moderates from within the Muslim ranks that can be properly channelized by the media to give a rounded assessment of Islamic issues. 

A lot of ink, an infinite number of film reels, and a frenetic churn of news stories bristling with violent tones on Islam   have fixated the Muslims as a stereotyped homogeneity.  There is a cottage industry of authors who keep burning midnight oil to ensure that the flashlights on bad Muslims keep blazing.

The development of a media and political culture that instinctively sees Islam as an ideological threat to Western liberal values, and equates its conservatism with violent extremism, is no accident, according to author and researcher Nathan Lean.

Lean, who wrote the book The Islamophobia Industry, believes that the massive multimillion-dollar industry began booming following the September 11, 2001 attacks, when "a cadre of bloggers, pseudo-scholars, religious leaders, and activists emerged touting special knowledge of Islam and Muslims.”

Sadly, journalism is   failing to perform its fundamental role of objective reporting and analysis and continues its job by rehashing tired old narratives of 'radical Islam' or a 'fight within Islam.' The truth is much more convoluted than that -- and the entire world has a direct role in creating the dangerous reality that so many Muslims have to live with every single day. The   media shows remarkable consistency in employing an arsenal of semantic games and incendiary phrases to link most of the violence around the world with some form of Islamic ideology or some Islamic group. In fact the entire discourse is being orchestrated on predefined lines.   To put it in the words of Jim Morrison, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind”.  It is time journalists reaffirm their  commitment to the credo of Joseph Pulitzer III (1913-1993)the founder of the world’s  gold standards I journalism ,the Pulitzer Prizes We will illuminate dark places and, with a deep sense of responsibility, interpret these troubled times.

It is much easier for the media to reduce the complex debate on various issues confronting   Muslims  to a series of clichés, slogans and sound bites, rather than examining root causes .It is  easier still to champion the most extreme and bigoted critics of Islam while ignoring the voices of mainstream Muslim scholars, academics and activists.

 From terrorists to dictators, incendiary literature to fabricated threats, Muslim identity is marred by almost every imaginable negative stereotype and menacing trope. Images of good Muslims, in every medium, are few and far between.

Societal understandings of "good Muslims" are just as narrow as its conception of the "bad Muslims” .Both characterizations are rooted in a common baseline, which gives rise to linear caricatures that overshadow representations of "good Muslims" as Olympians or scholars,    and even mayors of world-class cities.  Indeed, the hegemony of   "bad Muslim" has entirely eclipsed representations of "good Muslims”. Like the "bad Muslim", the identity of "good Muslims" is also linked to terrorism; in their case, they being accused of not doing enough to stop it.

 Muslims   are tagged with the affirmation of collective guilt that obliges them to disavow or apologies for entirely unrelated actors, or completely unconnected actions. Terrorism is not only conflated with Islam, but tied exclusively to it and nothing else.

Muslim bashing is in several cases a by-product of the new brand of journalism which sees news  value in  the ‘social weight’ of the message,  The media keeps beaming recurring images of  the  deep-seated communal ruptures that already exist in the walls of our society and are too well known. By reinforcing them it, wittingly and unwittingly, contributes to further deepening them.   .  The new media not only reflects the mood but is responsible for building it as well.  Media oxygen is provided only to those who say something communally inflammable .in such an environment the efforts of    pacifists and even of the moderated segments suffer great damage.

Religion has been simply reduced to a social or political construct, although for millions of people, it is a daily practice, and the very real framework of understanding that connects human lives to a spiritual reality. Their faith is the prism through which they view the world, and their religious communities are their central environments. It is difficult to overstate the importance of faith in the lives of so many.   Yet, often the only religious voices on the front page are those speaking messages of hatred or violence, especially in stories about conflict or social tensions. The media can carefully balance and moderate the coverage by injecting more reasoned and saner voices.   

Good journalism , requires deep and rigorous academic studies,  attentive listening to diverse sources, dogged examination of data and other record particularly when it deals with faith sues s, and close observation of  policies and institutions . It takes time and skill, and requires   support of editors and other news leaders who live in the community and care about it. It does not necessarily guarantee publishers a return in eye-popping   audience numbers.

M. Scanlon’s now classic essay, The Difficulty of Tolerance, offers   an attractive affirmative answer: Tolerance is valuable for its own sake because of the attitude it allows us to bear towards our fellow citizens, an attitude of fraternity and solidarity that is deeper than the intractable disagreements that divide us. 

It is worth quoting Dr S Radhakrishnan, the philosopher President of India:

“What counts is not creed but conduct. By their fruits ye shall know them and not by their beliefs. Religion is not correct belief but righteous living. The Hindu view that every method of spiritual growth, every path to the Truth is worthy of reverence has much to commend itself.” (The Hindu View of Life, 1962)

Given that such a tiny proportion of Muslims choose to take the path of violence, one wonders why is it that the larger Muslim community gets labelled as part of the problem.  It seems Muslims have more to do with their own inaction and inability to provide a counter narrative. 

From Cairo    to Kuala Lumpur to the edges of the Islamic world, Islamic councils are more concerned with questions related to women's dress and piety and sectarian conflicts than with talking about science, technology and innovation.

Unless the Muslim world and the Muslim communities start moving from the periphery to the mainstreams, the field will remain wide open for radicalists to carry the flag of Islam.

The extremists are often projected as lodestars primarily because Islamic orthodoxy has not been able to offer a humane and engaging alternative

The solution is not difficult .What is needed is meaningful engagement between the media and authentic caretakers   of Muslim faith. The media has to seek out the saner voices and not just line up opinions that suit its own narrative. Most important, it should reports facts faithfully. As C P Scot, the founder editor of The Guardian would repeatedly advise:”Comment is free, but fact is sacred”

 The distorted images of Islam stem partly from a lack of understanding of Islam among non-Muslims and partly from the failure by Muslims to explain themselves. The results are predictable:   hatred feeds on hatred. Ignorance of Islam exists both among Muslims and non-Muslims. Non-Muslims, ignorant and misunderstanding Islam, fear it. They believe it threatens their most basic values. Fantasy, conjecture and stereotypes replace fact and reality. Similarly Muslims have their own misconceptions. They, reacting to the hate and fear of non –Muslims, create a kind of defensive posture within their societies and a combative environment built on militant rhetoric. In this heat and misunderstanding, the voices of peace and tolerance are drowned. We need sanity in all quarters to let the truth prevail.

For this to happen, the media will have to walk that extra mile. As John Pilger advises in his book Hidden Agendas, “It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and the myths that surround it.”

Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a Heretic Banker .He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four decades .

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-the-media/moin-qazi,-new-age-islam/why-islam-and-muslims-need-a-fair-media/d/110562

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  • indonesian khilafah forum //transparan.org/
    By indah - 3/29/2017 11:22:33 PM

  • American CIA has caused the destabilization of the middle east to cause a refugee crisis in the western states! Obama and the CIA director were both Muslims, Google CIA director saying he converted to Islam! Islam allows you to lie to further Islams goals! The worlds governments have Muslims in all high places, we can see this in all the UN meetings on their opinion of Israel! They are going to cause a world wide destruction of the money system and cause complete Chaos in the western countries and the UNITED NATIONS will start to really show their ugly head on suggesting a world leader to fix the issues they the Globalist caused! They want a Islamic caliphate and all Christians will be beheaded! This is spoken of in the bible! It is coming to pass, Islam in all forms is evil! We must fight against this evil! Because even the moderate Muslims who are peaceful will turn on us when their leader comes to the Scene, The fake Jesus will work with the Catholic church to deceive the masses that Jesus was not the savior. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet only, since there will be no rapture most "fake Christian in name only people" will take the mark of Islam and convert, they will turn their families in who are real Christians thinking they did Allah a favor, there will be a one world money system and you will not be able to buy or sell with out converting to Islam! This is the truth and its coming, the sad thing is the main stream media is keeping all of this from the people, Muslims are raping women in Europe and destroying the cities, they are demanding Sharia law!.. We are very close to the end of this era! If one cannot see what I am saying they are spiritually blind! Islam is of Satan! And will bring the Antichrist into power! We must call our representatives and tell them we will use what ever means to remove them unless they address this! Drastic measure for drastic times! We are in trouble America, and now the NSA spies on all of us! Like the bible says you will not be able to hide from what is coming!!
    By Mikelee - 3/28/2017 11:21:23 PM

  • The media lack depth in reporting all issues, not just Muslim issues. They have not been fully fair in reporting Muslim issues, but they could have been a lot worse.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/28/2017 12:49:21 PM

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