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Media drama affects Islamic communities

By Timothy BUCKTON

08 September 2006

Commercial media outlets are very good at assigning blame. However, these days it seems some of the blame for anti-Muslim racism can be passed down to the media outlets themselves.

With the fifth anniversary of September 11 upon us this week, racism and hatred towards different groups in society has escalated. It seems everybody wants to assign blame and not just on the individuals who are responsible, but on whole cultures. Muslims all over the world have suffered as a result of the callous acts conducted by certain terror organizations. Take for instance the Channel 7 reporter who recently asked accquited terror suspect Joseph Thomas if he was "Australian or Muslim".

Abdullah Khan from the Islamic school in Perth says some blame must fall on the media.

"Media people are responsible for spreading this misconception that Islam teaches terrorism or hatred against people of other religions which is absolutely wrong. I think it can be resolved only if media plays a positive role and does not only try to make news sensational.”

Mr. Khan is from Pakistan and migrated to Australia in 1999. He considers Australia home and believes Australia has a great society, a good welfare system, encourages multiculturalism, and on a lighter note has a great climate. He says that generally, Western Australians seem tolerant.

"As far as I am aware of, there are only a few instances of hatred expressed in public against the Muslim community in Perth. Generally speaking West Australians are more tolerant and have a greater understanding of the situation.”

Western Australians should be proud that they have not conformed to the way the media have presented issues; such example appeared in a local Perth paper, where the reporter was clearly creating something out of nothing. It seems unfair to present stereotypes on groups of people in society who clearly do not support such acts, yet still bare the grunt from society. “We would dob someone in a second if a link could be made”, Mr. Khan informs.

Although not perfect, Perth people have not shifted as much false hatred and anger to the Muslim community, unlike any of the American and British publics. Although September 11 has increased the amount of racism in the world Mr. Khan believes “it has increased the frequency of such events, but Perth is still far better”.

“Australia has been a very harmonious and tolerant society. These events have only effected a few people. Most people are still playing a very positive role and are combating racism which is very encouraging”, Mr. Khan says. “You will find a few racist people in every society. Generally speaking I have never faced any racism from White Australians whenever I have had any dealing with any of the departments.”

Society must not fear Muslims, but instead be more open minded, and treat people of all religions, cultures and beliefs with the same common courtesy and respect that they would expect to be treated with themselves. The acts of a small minority of people should not affect broader groups in society. The media must start looking at terror organizations as small groups of extremists rather than labeling them as “Islamic fascist terrorists”. Terrorism is not part of the agenda of the Islamic community; however, peace between cultures is, and this should be on everyone’s agenda.

Mr. Khan stresses that all these opinions are his personal opinions and not of the Islamic school in which he works for.

Reference: 3rd Degree e-Newsletter - Edith Cowan University

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