How Can Discrimination Against Muslims in the UK be Controlled? In the UK, Muslims have been strongly discriminated against. Although there may be a few causes for this discrimination, the strongest cause would be how the media shown in the UK is influencing the feelings of the British citizens towards Muslims. This media tends to portray Muslims falsely giving them a negative image. As a result of the opinions caused by media, the British and the Muslims are at occasional conflict with each other. This forms a confused society built on fear and hatred.
This, of course, causes some issues for the citizens by making them less sociable. The Muslims in the UK are greatly affected as well because they live in a community that does not approve of their presence and even fears them. This leaves the Muslims facing a lot of social rejection, which could be damaging to certain few of them. To solve this problem, the UK needs to have better government control over its media. Lauren Fulton wrote an article called Europe’s Immigrant Problem, in it she discussed how there have been issues with Muslims in some European countries.
She even mentioned how the government in the UK has tried to control the problem in the past by making immigration rules stricter (32). These rules would mean less Muslims migrating to the UK for work, which can affect the UK’s economy because this cheap labor has improved the country’s economy considerably (Fulton 29). The government hoped that less Muslims would mean less tension, but why is there even tension? There should not be a problem between two cultures in the same country without a reason. The majority of the British are Christian, but that should not be enough reason to dislike Muslims.
There are many countries where Christians and Muslims live together happily. In Lebanon, for example, around half the citizens are Muslim and the other half is Christian, and they are currently living together peacefully. One could argue that the Christians and Muslims were not always at peace with each other in the past. Danial Abidin, in her book Islam: The Misunderstood Religion, talked about how the Muslim Ottoman Empire ruled parts of mostly Christian European countries in the past. However, Muslims were peaceful even when conquering another country. The argeted countries did not always cooperate with the Muslims and sometimes decided to go to war with them, but the Muslims followed humane rules even at war. They did not harm innocent civilians, women, children, and the elderly. They did not enter people’s homes, cut down any trees, kill any animals, burn property, or destroy any wells. Even the prisoners that were taken in from war were treated well. Even after the country was won over, the citizens were left to live their life as it was and follow the religion they want provided they payed a tax for their protection.
On top of that, the Muslims always built schools and libraries where they went to promote the education levels in the countries under their rule. All this did not matter though, because the Ottoman Empire never even reached Britain, so although there might be reason for some Europeans to feel some resentment towards Muslims, the British have none. In fact, it is the Muslims that should feel resentment towards the British because they invaded some Muslim countries in the past, and they were not quite as peaceful as the Muslim invasions.
Besides killing and enslaving the people of the countries they invaded, the British always left the countries corrupt as they did in Egypt, or hand the country over to another invader, as they did with Palestine (91-94). There is one other influence that creates cultural conflict when we eliminate the historical reason, and that would be the effect of the media on the people. The media that people are exposed to shapes the way people think. Andrew Hart, the author of the book Understanding the Media, wrote that “the media select and process facts for us.
Because they do so systematically, they necessarily affect the way we interpret what they are saying. ” More importantly, he added that “as well as informing us, the media also shapes us” (8). Art Silverblatt explains in his book, Media Literacy, why people are so affected by the media. The biggest problem is that a lot of people are not aware that they are influenced by media, which makes them very vulnerable. Media is also powerful in the way it plays on feelings, and it does this well because of how they are visually presented (6-7).
Another big problem is that people tend to trust media, they think that “information presented on television or in the newspaper must be true, simply because it appears in the media” (8). In British media, the subject of Islam and Muslims has become popular since around the 1990s with the occasion of the second Gulf war (Elgamri vii). The author of the book Islam in the British Broadsheets, Elzain Elgamri, says that “what people read, see and hear in the media influences and shapes their opinions about Islam and Muslims” (ix).
The sad truth is that the outlook on Islam in the West is not so positive, “consequently, Islam as a religion has allegedly come to be perceived by the West as a global force posing an ideological and significant threat” (61). Meena Hartenstein wrote an interesting article in the Daily News that shows how humorously incorrect the media can be about Muslims. The article was about how the political analyst, Glenn Beck, “claim[ed] on his radio show… that 10% of Muslims are terrorists” (par. 2). The amusing thing here is that “there are 1,570,000,000 Muslims worldwide.
Take ten percent of those Muslims and you get 157,000,000. That’s how many Muslim terrorists Glenn Beck is suggesting there are in the world” (qtd. in Hartenstein). This of course is a very ridiculous statement and is absolutely impossible, yet there are people that believe it. What is even worse is that even after reading the article on how unreasonable this claim is, 28% of the people that took the poll for this article voted that they agreed with Beck. This shows us just how much the people follow the media they like blindly, and it’s likely that attempts to educate them or bring them awareness would fail.
The best way to control the cultural conflicts in the UK is by altering the media that people regularly watch and trust in a way to give more realistic views on Islam and the Muslims. The media that the citizens are watching is making them prejudice against Muslims, and this results in many social conflicts. Rules and regulations need to be introduced to the media companies by the government. If certain language with negative connotations or underlying messages were limited, then this alone could lighten the feelings a bit.
If more care was taken with what pictures or videos are chosen and how they are displayed, that as well could give the Muslims a better image. In the book Impacts and Influences, which is a collection of essays on media power, Anthony Smith, one of the books editors, concluded in the book by stating the “appropriate duties of the government” (338). One of the mentioned would be that “it needs to ensure that the benefits of education… is spread as widely and as evenly as possible,” and that is because “the greater the inequalities in the ability to handle information nd information equipment, the more handicap society is. ” He also clarifies that “by ‘handling information’ one refers to an intellectual and cultural rather than a merely technical training” (338). He is suggesting that the media should be made to make the people more aware of other cultures. This, if done effectively, could work over time. If the media that was once used to give false and negative views on cultures would begin to give truthful ones, then that naive audience affected by the media would be affected in a positive way. This procedure would be easy, inexpensive, and less time consuming.
All it needs is for the government to enforce those rules on the media companies and hope to get proper cooperation from them. Another possible way to control the discrimination in the UK would be to educate the British citizens about media literacy, which is the study of media influences. Silverblatt thinks that the best way to overcome the media influence is to teach it to the public so they are more aware of what they are exposed to in the media world. He states that media literacy teaches people to be more critical of the media they are exposed to so they are less affected by it (4).
He is right in the sense that people become skeptical of what they see and are less likely to be manipulated. However, if people knew that an advertisement is trying to get them to buy a product, does that mean that they are not going to buy it? Just because we are critical does not mean we are not still affected. Also this procedure of education may not reach a sufficient number of people, that is if the people are even willing to listen. This would also be costly and would take a long time to accomplish and another long period of time before we begin to see any results.
There is also a different form of education that could help in this situation. It would be to educate the British citizens about Islam so that they know all the positive things about it that the media does not show them. Joe Kincheloe, one of the editors of the book, The Miseducation of the West, claims that “understanding of miseducation of the West would not end the terrorist activities… But such understandings put into action over the long term will operate to change the nature of… relationship[s] with most of the Islamic world” (3). However, it is not easy to get people to be willing o listen and put in time or effort to learn and understand, especially if they already have a negative view on Islam. This education would also be expensive and would take a very long time to accomplish. My solution to change the trusted media to give a more positive image on Islam would be better than to try and educate the people. Education is difficult, costly, and would take a lot of time to maybe take an effect. However, when there is a type of media, like a certain newspaper, that people like and trust, then whatever you add or change in it, people will respond to accordingly without question.
For example, in the situation mentioned earlier with Glenn Beck’s declaration that ten percent of all Muslims are terrorists, the people that trust Beck and like his views will believe and follow him no matter what his opponents say. Evidence of that would be that even after they read the article showing proof on how ridiculous and impossible his claim is, over a quarter of them still agree with him. People will very unlikely want to listen to truthful information from a source other than the media they trust, yet believe it.
If Beck was restricted from making up false numbers and taking advantage of his position on the radio to deceive his audience into thinking that Muslims are terrorists, and if he was made to give accurate information in a non-discriminating way, then the people could have opinions that are not manipulated. All that is needed is for the UK government to recognize the threat in this form and take action accordingly. Any country that wants to “become a great nation guided by a moral compass, it can do so only by way of its relationships with other nations and cultures” (Kincheloe 1).
The UK has to solve this issue before it is left to grow past a fixable stage, or else there could be consequences for both nations. If social problems develop to be too big, it could affect the country’s economy. Muslims might not want to immigrate to the UK anymore and this would cost the UK the cheap labor advantage. Too many conflicts could cause Muslim countries to take a stand and boycott the UK as they have once done with America. This could seriously damage the economy and tourism in the UK. All this and more could happen just because of media. This is why it is important to control it as soon as possible.
Works sited Abidin, Danial. Islam: The Misunderstood Religion. PTS Publications & Distributors, 2005. Print. Elgamri, Elzain. Islam in the British Broadsheets: The Impact of Orientalism and Representations of Islam in the British Press. Ithaca Press, 2008. Print. Fulton, Lauren. “Europe’s Immigrant Problem: Integrating Minority Populations. ” Harvard International Review 31. 2 (2009): 28-33. Academic Search Premier, AUS Library. Web. 18 September 2010. Hart, Andrew. Understanding the Media: A practical Guide. Routledge, 1991. Print. Hartenstein, Meena. Glenn Beck claims 10% of Muslims are terrorists; CNN’s Fareed Zakaria blasts him for fuzzy math. ” Daily News: National. Daily News, 13 Dec. 2010. Web. 31 Dec. 2010. James Curran, Anthony Smith, and Pauline Wingate, eds. Impacts & Influences: Essays on Media Power in the Twentieth Century. Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1987. Print. Joe kincheloe, and Shirly Steinberg, eds. The Miseducation of the West: How Schools and the Media Distort Our Understanding of the Islamic World. Praeger Publishers, 2004. Print. Silverblatt, Art. Media Literacy: Keys to Interpreting Media Messages. 3rd Edition. Praeger Publishers, 2008. Print.