Omaar: media 'shrug shoulders' reporting Islam

Al Jazeera English presenter Rageh Omaar has slammed the British media for its coverage of issues relating to Islam.

In a Radio 4 programme, Analysis: Telling Muslim Stories, Omaar argued that since the London bombings, the way in which members of the media prove how liberal they are is by their stance against Islam.

He said: ‘Whether it’s The Guardian or the Daily Telegraph, Sky News or the BBC, there’s this shrug of the shoulders assumption that there is something there, [that] Islam does threaten our liberal sensibilities, and it is the right thing to have a go first.’However, the New Statesman’s political editor, Martin Bright dismissed the suggestion saying that since 7 July attacks on London in 2005, the attitude of the British press and public had been relatively restrained.

Bright said: ‘Newspaper editors are always the first targets of not only authoritarian regimes but authoritarian ideologies. So it’s no surprise to me that the first people who are attacked by representatives of radical Islam in this country are journalists.’The Analysis programme, presented by Charlie Beckett, the director of the Polis journalism institute, included a group of young Muslim women so disillusioned with media coverage that they had set up their own current affairs podcast.

Yet while some argue that the media’s coverage of issues affecting Muslims may actually have increased the risk of violence in Britain, others such as former BBC Panorama reporter John Ware said that the media should have a more robust approach.

Ware said: ‘What I feel is stirring is a potentially incendiary mix of religion and politics, which taken to its ultimate conclusion could be as dangerous as any of history’s grand ideas.”

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