While the causes of incidents like Christchurch are complex, attacks like these don't happen in a vacuumby Mohammad Zaheer / March 19, 2019 / Leave a comment
For many Muslims around the world, the seminal moment in the aftermath of the horrific massacre in Christchurch was Australian news anchor Waleed Aly’s powerful editorial on current affairs program The Project where he castigated those who have previously tried to “tear people apart, demonise particular groups.”
A sombre-looking Aly, his voice cracking with emotion, looked straight into the camera and said, “Of all the things I could say, that I’m gutted and I’m scared and I feel overcome with utter hopelessness, the most dishonest thing would be to say that I’m shocked … There is nothing about Christchurch that shocks me.”
And why should it, really? For years, Muslims have watched helplessly as Islamophobia has been increasingly legitimised. No longer just confined to the fringes of society, this hatred has become alarmingly mainstream on a global scale.
In Europe, it is most visible in the xenophobia from political leaders and the press in response to the recent influx of refugees from Muslim countries. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has branded them “Muslim invaders,” while David Cameron famously described them as a “swarm.” Katie Hopkins, in a column for The Sun so vile that it prompted a rebuke from the UN, referred to the refugees as “cockroaches” and suggested using gunships on them.
The muted response from the international community towards China’s forced “re-education” program is another more recent example of this. In a blatant violation of human rights, over a million Uighur Muslims and other minorities, including Kazakhs, are reported to be extra-judiciously held in internment camps, supposedly to eliminate alleged extremist tendencies. Late last year, the Guardian warned that despite the scale of this crisis, the “world remains largely unaware”—or else “unwilling to speak out.”
Complicity at home
The complicity of the British press in enabling this global climate of hate cannot be overstated. A 2007 study commissioned by then-London Mayor Ken Livingstone revealed that research into one week’s news coverage indicated over 91 per cent of articles regarding Muslims in British newspapers were negative in nature. Almost a decade later, nothing much has changed.
Sensationalism and inaccurate reporting when it comes to Muslims are still widespread in the British press. Recently, the Times was denounced for running a series of “distorted” articles about a white Christian child allegedly forced…