Anti-Muslim Media Bias Calls for PR Offensive

Maybe you read the story this past week about how a significant number of Muslims in Britain said they didn’t know who was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.

According to a survey of 3,000 British Muslims by The Policy Exchange, an independent British think tank, 31 percent of Muslims believe America was “responsible” for the terrorism that killed nearly 3,000 innocent civilians. More than 52 percent said they didn’t know who was responsible, but 7 percent blamed Jews while 4 percent blamed Al-Qaeda, whose leader Osama Bin Laden openly claimed responsibility. Researchers and Western media commentators concluded it is “deeply troubling” that so many Muslims are willing to “entertain wild and outlandish conspiracy theories.”

That may be true if that was the whole story, but it is not. The truth is the Western news media does not care about truth or accuracy when it comes to Muslims, or Arabs. It is easier to attack us than to write accurately about us. The media ignored significant parts of the survey that show the majority of Muslims strongly oppose extremism. Muslims strongly believe in their religion. And, the survey shows they not only respect others but also identify with the same concerns of non-Muslims.

Maybe it is our fault as Muslims and Arabs that we allow the Western news media to be so biased and we fail miserably to make the media accountable for its exaggerations and lies. For example, here are things the media did not report that were in the survey and that I argue are significantly more important:

The survey shows most Muslims do not see the bigotry they face in society as their most important challenge. Harassment on religious or racial grounds is not as important to them as are the many other issues they share with non-Muslims.

That is a fascinating considering Muslims make up only 4.8 percent of the British population and more than half of the Muslims interviewed were immigrants. Being immigrants and a minority makes them more easily subject to bigotry. Yet Muslims do not have a chip on their shoulder, according to the study.

What concerns them? Most said they are concerned with the same issues that concern other people in Britain and the West. Those issues include crime, violence, and drug and alcohol abuse. A majority, 93 percent, see themselves as British citizens. Imagine that. Muslims do not think they are different from others. They see themselves as being the same. But there is more that was skipped over in the coverage of the survey by the racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab Western news media.

A total of 49 percent of Muslims said they believe they have to do more to tackle extremism and radicalization in Britain’s Muslim community, while only 39 percent believed enough was being done. Only 3 percent said too much is being done.

If you are worried about Muslims being patriotic to their adoptive countries, 52 percent said they would report without hesitancy any member of their community who supported or encouraged terrorism in the Syria conflict.

That is important because that issue is the focus of fears that Muslims are being drawn into Daesh because of the Syrian conflict.

A significant 35 percent of Muslims said they believe moderates in their community are drowned out by extremist activists. A 2011 study of Muslims by the PEW Research Centre in America said that more than 48 percent of Muslims believe their own religious leaders have not done enough to speak out against Islamists’ threats.

I agree. I think the problem is that too often, the mainstream Western news media focuses on the so-called “leaders” rather than on the people.

If you only relied on the Western news media, you would think most Muslims are fanatics who support extremists and need to be put on watch lists, spied on, and monitored for violence and crimes.

I think it is our leadership that has the problem. Too many live in the Western countries physically, but mentally they are too focused and consumed almost entirely by the politics they left behind in their countries of origin.

That makes the leadership different from the community they seek to lead. The survey shows 89 percent of British Muslims condemn “political violence.” That reflects exactly how non-Muslim Brits feel.

There is so much more in The Policy Exchange survey that deserved more coverage from the biased mainstream Western news media. The issue is not about whom to blame for Sept. 11, 2001. Taken out of context, that single issue makes Muslims and Arabs appear to be extremists. In context, though, you might recognize that the issue is exaggerated and not as important as it was made to seem.

The whole survey reinforces the truth that Islam is a religion of peace. And, extremism is a threat not just to non-Muslims but to Muslims and Arabs, too. When it comes to the patriotism of immigrants, Muslims and Arabs are no different than anyone else. As Muslims and Arabs, our real problem is we just do not do a good job of presenting who we are and what we believe to the rest of the world. We treat communications, public relations and PR messaging like foreign concepts. But they are the most important things we need to understand and engage.

We need to stop listening to and enabling the extremists in our community who falsely claim they speak on our behalf. We must tell our stories to the rest of the world better, more extensively, and more often, not just through the “news” media but also through the entertainment media including through movies, books and even television sitcoms. Humour is the most powerful method of communications to break through racism and bigotry.

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