‘Negative portrayal of Muslims in western media igniting hatred’

Published May 2, 2019
Lauren Booth (R) is a British television presenter and the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair. ─ Reuters/File
Lauren Booth (R) is a British television presenter and the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair. ─ Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Persistent negative portrayal of Muslims in western media is igniting hatred against them and creating massive Islamophobia, a British journalist, activist and author said on Wednesday.

Lauren Booth is a British television presenter, broadcaster, journalist and activist and author of Finding Peace in The Holy Land. She was delivering a talk on ‘Islam and the West: Bridging the Gaps’ at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

Ms Booth is the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair, and one of the most high profile converts to Islam in the West.

During her talk, she was firm that the real job of Muslims was to hold onto their faith and not to lose it in the face of violence. She regarded the frequently used term “clash of civilisations” as highly inappropriate, maintaining that the objectives of Islam have never been to induce a clash among civilisations but to alleviate and upgrade them to an improved level.

She also spoke about tactics used in western media rhetoric to paint a darker picture of Muslims globally. Mediums of information and entertainment, such as newspapers, channels, films, cartoons and now even video games were being used as tools to spread hate-filled propaganda, she said, citing cases of negative framing of Muslims by the western media.

She argued that people in the West were being deprived of basic knowledge and comprehension of Islam as it has never been communicated to them truthfully.

Ms Booth referenced an interview of Palestinian children standing by the rubble of their destroyed house, expressing their desire to become doctors, teachers and psychotherapist to help their communities.

The interview however was later morphed, she claimed, rather posing a starkly contrasting question in the headline: ‘Which of these children are to be doctors and which ones to become terrorists?’.

The matter of fact however was that none of the children had spoken anything about terrorism, extremism or revenge during their talk, she said.

At the end of her talk, Ms Booth urged Muslims globally to prepare and have more people who were able to speak in public presenting Islam in its true light.

She also stressed on the need to equip Muslim children to be able to understand and cogently portray Islam as a positive and viable way of life for mankind.

The institute’s Executive President Khalid Rahman earlier in his welcome note was of the view that the divergences between Islamic world and the West must be transformed into cooperation or at least a healthy competition, as failing in doing so could pave the way for dire consequences and undesired outcomes.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2019

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