PRESS RELEASE: British Muslims see the media as exclusionary and discriminatory

Islamic Human Rights Commission

25 January 2007
Embargo lifted

PRESS RELEASE: British Muslims see the media as exclusionary and discriminatory
Findings in new IHRC report ‘The British Media and Muslim Representation: The Ideology of Demonisation’ published, London, UK, 26 January 2007

IHRC’s forthcoming report ‘The British Media and Muslim Representation: The Ideology of Demonisation’ examines how persistent categorization of Muslims into narrow terms of (negative) discussion inheres in the British media. The report advocates a freer and fairer media that includes marginal and minority voices.

The report analyses TV News, film and literature and is published on 26th January 2007, and is the sixth volume in the British Muslims’ Expectations of the Government (BMEG) project. Press wishing to attend the launch at the Foreign Press Association should contact the IHRC office on or (+44) 20 8904 4222. Please contact the office on the same numbers for PDF review copies, a summary and further information.

The report’s findings include the fact that an overwhelming 86% of Muslims in the UK see the media to be Islamophobic (62%) or racist (16%). Whilst there is under representation in the media, Muslim concerns were not on how many Muslims participated in media production but on the quality of content. Many saw the problems in across cinema, TV and print to be systemic.

The reports’ authors also identified how systemic bias occurs and how this in the current UK context is being played out using examples of cinema and TV News. The review of cinema highlighted the fact that pejorative ideas about Muslims have existed well before events like 9/11. A review of English literature takes the history of such demonisation back centuries.

Report co-author Arzu Merali said:

“We have always thought of the British media as one that follows a liberal tradition, but there been little self-reflection upon the part of media producers as to its depictions of minorities and its effects. What we find not only in the view of respondents but through analysis of different types of media is that – perhaps almost entirely without intent – a very exclusionary and biased media exists that is contributing to an inreasingly hostile environment for Muslims.”

The report recommends that a freer and fairer media can only be achieved with a cultural change amongst media producers that has broader and more subtle representation of Muslim and other minority issues. The report advocates better media regulation coupled with better awareness about Muslims.

Professor Saied R. Ameli, who heads the BMEG project for IHRC said:

“There is still along way to go in tackling media racism, be it with regard to anti-Semitism or ethnic minorities, however we have seen the media become more progressively more responsible over the last few decades in their representation. This type of critical reflection and implementation of effective policy is need with regard to Islam and Muslims, and is needed urgently.”

For further comment or to interview one of the reports’ authors, please contact the office on (+44) 20 8904 422 or (+44) 7958 607475. If you require a summary, PDF or hard review copy please email[ENDS}

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183