Sunday, July 13, 2008

Muslims in the Media

Earlier this week, Channel 4 in partnership with Muslim News, held a panel debate on the Muslim perception in the media. This was a follow-on from the Dispatches docu - 'It shouldn't happen to a Muslim' presented by Peter Oborne highlighting the prejudices that Muslims and Islam face in the media today.

The debate was carried out by Ziauddin Sardar (Journalist), Adam Kemp (Arts and Culture, BBC), Mehdi HAssan (News and Current Affairs, Channel 4), Yvonne Riddly (Press TV), Inayat Bungawala (MCB) and Chaired by Akhil Ahmed (Commissioning Editor for Religion, Channel 4).

The debate all in all was very shallow; nothing thought provoking. It was agreed that Muslims were facing discrimination from the Media, we lack Muslims in the Arts sector, we need more Muslims in the Arts sector, it would be good for Muslims to be out of the news and so on.

Yvonne as always, was biased. Why she was on the panel I do not know. She reminds me of Yasmin Alibhai Brown who also has nothing decent to say. Seeing her at Islam Expo on Friday just reconfirmed how bad a journalist she is, making sweeping generalised statements, making inadequate arguments that did not hold the depth of the other panellists, such as Tariq Ramadan and Karen Chouhan. With Yvonne and Yasmin everything is taken on the religious and ethnic lines and they cannot go beyond playing the Muslim victim. This is where Tariq fits in so well with his push for Muslims to recognise themselves as citizens of the countries they live in and not distinguish themselves as just Muslims facing Islamophobia but rather citizens facing racism perpetrated by their government and media. This also ties in with the Panel's view that Muslims need to be more active in the matters of what the media do. If you find it offensive write in, if you like it, write in. That is the message Akhil was driving forward. Akhil no doubt is one of the very prominent Muslim media representatives we have along with Hassan Mehdi and they know how the media works and I suppose if they suggest something we should take it on board.

Click on image to access the report

Channel 4 are current hosting a series of mini documentaries starting Monday titled The Seven Wonders of the Muslim World, the first one being aired tomorrow after the news. Then follows a two hour documentary on The Qur’an. One of the questions presented to the panellist was ‘why not do an in-depth documentary on the life of the Prophet?’ It was disappointing to hear that such a documentary could never go ahead because of the restrictions the TV company faced in accessing the historical sites needed to carry out the research. Akhil made an attempt but ended up losing a seizable amount of money in doing so.

One of the questions posed by Akhil was what do Muslims want to watch on telly? My mind went blank at that point. I could not think of anything that I wanted to watch. Not that I am satisfied with what we have currently, I would like to see the likes of Big Brother and Eastenders off our screens but all in all I didn't really care except that I would like less of 'Muslim things' and more fairer news and docus with regards to all things.

What would you like to see on telly?


sasha said...

Fair point. Holistically, we would be better off with general TV programmes, which are entertaining yet informative on sensible grounds.

fugstar said...

big brother and easteners off. yup.

Cool review. Im loving the whole 'they have nothing interesting to say' dismissal. Its just too true.

Oz said...

TV stations (apart from BBC) need to make money, BB and Eastenders bring in that money, to allow CH4 to make shows of a more informative nature. I hate them just as much as the next person, but without them, there simply wouldn't be a CH4.

asikha said...

That's so lame. Without the likes of BB the channels will get the viewing number it requires, they just need to be more creative in what they show that's all.

Oz said...

I'm not trying to justify it, I'm just pointing out that it IS a commercial entity. You're right in that it may be a creativity issue, but at the end of the day, if 5.8 mil (last nights BB viewership) people want to watch Big Brother/Eastenders, and we can't provide an alternative, it's not for us to say "you cannot".

Personally, I think our best bet would be to try and create the kinds of shows we would like to see; it may be worth looking at if you're interested.

In response to your article, I'd like to see more travel documentaries, Long Way Down/Around style. :D

(And sports. Not nearly enough sports on TV these days, but that's another argument for another time.)

Anonymous said...

A sad affair for bd: