The media simply isn’t interested in positive Muslim stories

maz saleemMaz Saleem is a campaigner against racism and Islamophobia. You can follow her on Twitter @CampaignerMaz

Maz Saleem
says that we must challenge the negative media narrative about Muslims by publicising the positive contributions Muslims make to our society.

British Muslims are the most giving and generous charity-givers, according to the UK’s Charity Commission, which says Muslims gave about £100 million to charities during Ramadan alone.

Last year, Preston’s Asian community raised an amazing £38,000 for their local hospital in a matter of weeks. The money raised helped the Rosemere Cancer Foundation to buy new life-saving equipment for the Royal Preston Hospital. In just over six weeks, eight city mosques raised the money which included £5,000 donated by madrassah children and £8,000 from women in the community.

And this week graduates across the UK had their leaving ceremonies, including my wonderful niece, Aaliyah, who graduated with a BSc in Optometry at Aston University. Looking through the graduation pictures I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it was to see young British Muslims graduate in their chosen career paths to embark on a future of hope and promise.

Aaliyah’s graduation picture (which you can see above) portrays a very strong positive image of young British Muslims today in the UK; but these positive and “good news stories” involving Muslims sadly won’t get any attention from the mass media.

Biased media coverage

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The media has a lot to answer for with its negative portrayal of young Muslims, especially those coming from Birmingham. Biased headlines focus on the minuscule minority leaving to join ISIS, which of course they must report, but these stories have unjustly dominated the press in UK.

I constantly ask myself why the mass media doesn’t reflect a more positive image of young Muslims. The picture of Aaliyah’s graduation is much more representative of young Muslims today than the negative portrayal too often present in the media.

Challenging media Islamophobia is a priority
Challenging media Islamophobia is a priority

Theresa May’s outrageous Prevent agenda is now in place in schools and universities. Spying on young Muslims from as young as five for “radical tendencies” (such as advocating respect for the human rights of Palestinians) is incredibly worrying.

And these extreme policies are coming directly from the Conservative government.

If this wasn’t outrageous enough, the Tories whipped up racism and Islamophobia right throughout the EU referendum campaign alongside UKIP. It was incredibly distasteful the way both mainstream sides demonised EU migrants, refugees and Muslims.

The Conservatives and UKIP should be held accountable for the spike in racism that has unfolded after Brexit. Both parties need to be investigated for racism.

Yet instead we see an attack on Jeremy Corbyn. He’s a lifelong anti-racism campaigner but is being subjected to huge pressure to resign as well as false accusations of anti-semitism. It’s completely absurd and blatant to see this manufactured and vicious campaign to force him out.

Post-Brexit hate crimes

The number of reported hate crimes has soared to five times the usual level following the Brexit vote, police have recorded. Migrants have reported verbal abuse, negative and hateful comments on social media including xenophobic language, anti-migrant leafleting, and some have even been physically assaulted.

The consistent media fear-mongering that ISIS members could be hiding amongst the refugees in Europe has brought about negativity and hatred towards refugees fleeing war and persecution.

The UK government is bombing the countries refugees are fleeing from so why can we not give them refuge? Instead the mass media and governments across Europe have demonised refugees and Muslims to the core.

More than one-third of the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Nice were Muslims and six out of nine of the recent attacks in Munich were Muslim too. Muslims are the main victims of ISIS attacks, making up 90 per cent– as well as of Western bombings. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and 106,000 are members of jihadi groups, so that means 0.006% of Muslims are terrorists and 99.993% are NOT!

It’s clear the far-right and some sections of the media want to brand all Muslims as terrorists. We must challenge this narrative by publicising the positive contributions Muslims make. Ignorance and the rise of bigotry will continue if we do not challenge the narrative of those who seek to divide the population and bring hatred upon us.

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