Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Muslim Council of Britain holds forum "British Muslims, Dealing with the Media"

The following article comes from Sharq al Awsat. I love the quite from Gradam Dudman, managing editor of The Sun: "The Sun is not against the Muslim society but instead, it is only against terrorists and those who call for hatred."

Muslim Council of Britain Forum Shows Muslims' Resentment Toward Western Media Report by Faysal Abbas: "Symposium in London Discusses How Islam Deals with Muslims' Issues"

Source: Al-Sharq al-Awsat

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 T08:35:09Z

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has organized a special symposium titled: "British Muslims, Dealing with the Media," at London's Islamic Center of England. The symposium included speeches and discussions with a number of the most prominent media practitioners and academics, including Graham Dudman, the managing editor of the popular newspaper The Sun. Dudman listened to criticism from many people who accused his newspaper of implementing an anti-Islam agenda. However, after Dudman scanned the audience and found that most of them are not readers of his newspaper, he said that The Sun is not against the Muslim society but instead, it is only against terrorists and those who call for hatred.

David Seymour, the political editor of the popular newspaper the Daily Mirror, explained that it is important for journalists to clarify the nature of their work and how it is being done so people would not get the wrong impression about what they do. Professor Greg Philo, the writer of "Bad News from Israel," spoke about the dominance of pro-Israel parties over the media and the amount of ignorance spread among the British public regarding the reasons behind the Arab-Israeli conflict. The list of speakers also included reporters and editors from the newspapers The Independent, The Times and The Sunday Times, in addition to reporters from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

The discussions between the audience -- including normal citizens, religious personalities and academics -- and the speakers showed that Muslim quarters hold some kind of resentment against western media in general. Speakers from the BBC explained some of the BBC's editorial policies and clarified that the corporation prefers not to use the word "terrorist" (on its programs). They also spoke about some policies that have to do with the Palestine question, such as the corporation's continued use of the expression "the occupied territories." Greg Philo commented on the need to determine who is occupying who, because according to a study he conducted, many of those included in the survey, on which Philo based his study, believe that the lands are Israeli lands and that the Palestinians have occupied them. Philo added: We must say that these are Palestinian lands occupied by Israel since 1967 and that this is an international position that entails no bias whatsoever.

MCB Secretary General Iqbal Sacranie dedicated most of his opening speech to speak about the reactions he had received as a result of his dispute with the program "Panorama." The MCB sees that this program, which was aired by the BBC about two weeks ago, showed bias against Sacranie. Sacranie explained that the dispute has resulted in a flow of letters of support from the different members of the Muslim society in the United Kingdom and even from non-Muslims. He added: Panorama has achieved for us in one night what would have taken us four or five years of work to achieve.

In a statement to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Sacranie said that organizing this event has nothing to do with the 7 July attacks or with the media focus on the Muslim society in the United Kingdom following the attacks. He added: We organized a similar event last year. He explained: The feeling that there is media bias against Muslims existed before 7 July and even before 11 September. As for the reasons for this alleged bias, Sacranie said that it is due to the conduct of both sides: the media and the Muslim society. He added: As for media practitioners, they do not perform their job in full most of the time, because they either do not have the desire to search or they want to get things done quickly and turn in their reports on time. He continued: "As for the Muslim society, the truth is that they do not make enough effort to explain the tolerant teachings of their religion and to talk to the media. In the end, media persons get only a small or a false part of the picture, thus causing problems."

For his part, Toro Takagi, a producer at the news programs department of the Japanese NHK station (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that in Japan, they are interested in the cultures of other peoples and that they focus a lot of attention on making documentary programs about Islam, Muslims and fundamentalist terrorism. He added: There are few sources available for the Japanese in this regard.

International religious and social personalities also attended the symposium, including Muhammad Alami Musa from the Islamic Center of Singapore (ICS). Musa said that he and his accompanying delegation are on a tour to visit Muslim societies in a number of states in the world and that he is looking forward to benefiting from this symposium and learning about the MCB's experiences.

It is worth noting that the MCB is the umbrella that joins about 400 Islamic organizations, representing the different Islamic schools in the United Kingdom.

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