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Muslim media guide for young journalists

July 1, 2012

Sunday, May 28. 2006

A media guide that answers the question of who British Muslims are and what they care about was published this week as a reference and training source for young journalists.

Published by Counterpoint, the British Councils think-tank on cultural relations, and authored by Ehsan Masood, a London-based writer and journalist, the guide is intended to be a “dispassionate explanation of who, in all their variety, British Muslims are, what they care about, and what they do?”

The publication attempts to dispel the “fog of false assumptions, both innocent and malicious, which hang over relationships between ‘mainstream Britain’ and its Muslim minorities” and hopes to “build mutually beneficial relationships” by “promoting better understanding and greater interdisciplinary co-operation”.

“British Muslims: Media Guide” is an attempt at a clear and dispassionate contribution towards bridging such gaps.

Co-published with the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, it provides succinct information, as well as a directory of contacts of Muslim organisations, and is an invaluable resource to anyone who writes and speaks about, or interacts with Muslims, both in Britain and abroad.

The publication began almost three years ago and comprises of various topics related to Muslims including statistics related to demography and their contribution in all aspects of society.

It provides a detailed summary of the Muslim’s brief history and development, charting their entry and subsequent rise through the political arena, including epoch-changing events like The Satanic Verses; the formation of the Muslim Council of Britain; the 9/11 and 7/7 bombings; anti-terror legislation, as well as examples of their influence over the current Government through the use of tactical voting.

It examines the language used by the media, including terms such as: ‘Islamist’, ‘fundamentalism’, ‘Muslim fanatic’, etc., and analyses its correct and incorrect use. It also looks at the definition of Islamophobia stating that there was “no agreed definition”.

The sensitive subject of Muslim women and their role in society is also covered and includes a look at two pioneering organisations: An-Nisa Society and Muslim Women’s Helpline.

It further examines the phenomenon of Islamic banking that has recently taken off, worth an estimated £250 billion and growing at a “heart-stopping rate of 15% a year”.

It further examines Muslims in mainstream media stating: “Muslim audiences…believe that the media in Western countries does not portray Muslims with the same sense of completeness as it would for example, people of other faiths. There is a perception that media coverage of Muslims focuses disproportionately on bad news and on conflicts.”

The publication is a timely welcome towards nurturing the media arena and will go a long way, if utilised to its fullest, in stemming the tide of Islamophobia that seems to be present in many of the media outlets.

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