What kind of threat to white society has been constructed by the British news media’s demonisation of Muslims?
The presence of Muslims, in the ‘public sphere’ has increased steadily for the past few decades. British Muslim communities have become more visible and their concerns readily voiced. The ethnic assertiveness of British Muslims and their communities, characterized by the ‘Rushdie affair’ and more recently the printing of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, has been met with unease by the liberal left and outrage by the conservative right.
Tahir Abbas points out, in an article for the Journal of Muslim Minority Affair, that while Islamaphobia is by no means a new phenomenon, it has at the end of the twentieth century become ever more prominent. Anti-Muslim sentiment is a consistent feature in the British press and has had implications for Muslims living in Briton and more importantly British Muslims. This essay will look at the kind of threat Muslims are presented as, by looking at how the British media has constructed Muslims in relation to the central issues of freedom of speech, education and interpersonal relations. First I will look at the international representation of Muslims as this is the background against which the British press constructs the Muslim threat.
The majority of the British public derives their knowledge of Islam from the pictures and stories provided them by the news media. Images of angry mobs burning flags, books and shouting anti-Western slogans are a familiar sight on our television screens; this is the Islam the British press shows us. Alternative images are not readily available as research by John E. Richardson shows. His analysis of representations of Islam and Muslims in British broadsheet newspapers between October 1997 and January 1998 showed that the majority of articles regarding Muslims are “international news”, around 80%. This was even less than a previous study...