Thousands of Muslims took to London’s streets for the annual March against terrorism. The double standard concerning Muslim related events and reports was once again very evident. As most of the mainstream media outlets serve the interests of corporations, bias reporting of controversial topics is very common. This is the case with Muslims and terror threats. This has quickly become a very troubling issue.
On December 6th 2015, thousands of people were part of the annual UK Arbaeen Procession. This was organized by the Husaini Islamic Trust UK. Members poured into the streets of London, most of which were holding signs that read various messages, including: “Islam promotes human rights” and “terrorism has no religion,” to highlight Islam’s promotion of peace.
Arbaeen, is the Shia Muslim tradition to mark the anniversary of Imam Husain, a social justice leader from the 7th century. Due to recent radical Islamist terror attacks on Paris and Brussels, organizers made the decision to dedicate the march to denouncing terror in all forms.
Organizer, Waqar Haider, told The Independent about the transformation of the march: “This year we had hundreds of placards which were basically saying ‘no’ to terrorism and ‘no’ to ISIS”. This shows the feeling of true muslims and provides a very direct message.
@Terio818 @Malsharifi There were 5000 people there. Lots of passers-by noticed. See https://t.co/eUTMl9TGuZ— Aliya Zaidi (@aliyazaidi) December 8, 2015
Haider also said: “For us it was a controversial move to go political. Normally we don’t mix politics with mourning. However with what’s happened recently, we thought we had to make sure we as a community totally disassociate ourselves with what’s happening elsewhere in the world,”
Despite the important message the organization were trying to deliver, the organization and the event didn’t receive the main stream media coverage it deserved. This is in contrast to the many reports on radicalized jihadists, terror suspects and Western city attacks which all receive an unprecedented amount of coverage from mainstream media. In comparison, reports covering terror attacks on Muslim communities and the Muslim communities standing up to terror and taking on ISIS are notably lacking.
“Unfortunately most media outlets go for stories that most of the time can be very divisive. When Muslim groups do good, there is rarely a mention or if there is the religion is not normally mentioned. But if a Muslim of group of Muslims do something negative, They are front page new and their religion is mentioned.”
Mohammed Al-Sharifi a volunteer, told The Independent. “I think the reason the mainstream media hasn’t covered the story is because I don’t think it’s juicy enough to sell papers. It’s simply not interesting enough.”
The result of this biased reporting: the public’s perception becomes misconsude and unbalanced—which in turn only exacerbates this troubling situation.
Al-Sharifi, who had personally attended the march, took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the mainstream media. In a tweet, which has since been re-tweeeted over 9,000 times, he said:
“Hundreds of Muslims flooded the streets of London yesterday to condemn terrorism. Media’s response: Silence.”
Hundreds of Muslims flooded the streets of London yesterday to condemn terrorism.— Mohammed Al-Sharifi (@Malsharifi) December 7, 2015
Media's response: Silence.
“The reason my tweet went viral… is because I think people realise there is a huge disparity between what they’re being fed in the media and the reality of the day-to-day interactions they have with Muslims at work, at school.”
Haider believes that ‘stereotyping’ is the root cause of the lack of media coverage surrounding Muslim-organized events. “I think it’s because of stereotyping. People see the entire Muslim community as one community,” Haider said.
“The Muslim community is a very diverse community, with the vast majority of us horrified by ISIS.
Haider also added: “With our event, we had so many people from different ethnic backgrounds. It’s more of a family event in terms of people it attracts.”
The sense of community within Western-countries is narrowed. Shortly after the terror attacks on Paris and Brussels, many Western-nations bound together to create an image of solidarity by projecting the Belgium and French national flags of their own monumental landmarks.
However, just six days after the attack in Brussels, an attack in Lahore, Pakistan killed 69 people—with women and children making up a large percentage of the death toll—yet the Western-nations did not pay tribute to this tragedy. Why? Because Pakistan is a Muslim majority country.
“I think people realize there is a huge disparity between what they’re being fed in the media and the reality of the day-to-day interactions they have with Muslims at work, at school,” Mr. Al-Sharifi told The Independent. He is also calling for the UK’s leadership to take greater steps to combat Islamophobia
During their existence, ISIS and other extremist Islamic terrorist groups have killed more Muslims than non-Muslims. Thousands of Muslims have been killed and displaced thanks to ISIS. Despite this mainstream media outlets continue to portray Western nations as the sole victims of ISIS like we’re the only ones subjected to their threats, plans and attacks.
Despite these overwhelming facts, the Muslim communities continue to be misrepresented in the media. As a result, the public’s understanding of Islamists, Quran teachings and world news as a whole become blurred by bias views, which in most cases, are completely inaccurate portrayals of Muslims and their culture. Over the past year, in both Europe and the U.S the number of reported Islamophobic attacks has been on the rise.
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