ISLAMABAD: Through newspapers, channels, films, cartoons and even video games, the western media has been using various methods and tactics to paint a darker picture of Muslims globally.
This was stated by British television presenter and author of ‘Finding Peace in The Holy Land’ Lauren Booth while giving a talk on ‘Islam and the West: Bridging the Gaps’ at Institute of Policy Studies (IPS). Sister-in-law to former British prime minister Tony Blair, Booth is one of the most high-profile converts to Islam in the West.
During her talk, she stated that persistent negative portrayal of Muslims in the Western media was igniting hatred and spreading Islamophobia, which is making lives for Muslims living in Western societies difficult, even forcing them to train their children self-defence techniques in the face of constant threats.
She, however, was of the firm belief that the real job of Muslims was to hold onto their faith and not to lose it in the face of violence.
Booth also considered the frequently-used term ‘clash of civilization’ — coined by Samuel Huntington — as highly inappropriate. She maintained that Islam never fostered the objective of inducing a clash amongst civilizations but to alleviate and upgrade them to an improved level.
Contrary to the much-propagated narrative, she suggested that religion does not hold back modernization, instead, it rekindles it.
Booth shed light on the various methods and tactics of Western media rhetoric against Muslims whereby all mediums were used as tools to spread hate-filled propaganda.
Citing cases where the Western media had negatively framed Muslims, Booth said that the media morphed reality altogether to give a completely contradicting view. This way, she said, the common people in the West were being deprived of basic knowledge and comprehension of Islam.
Instead, a false image of the religion is consistently being sold to them by the people with an agenda who have mastered the art of persuasive storytelling.
Booth presented many examples to back her arguments including an interview of Palestinian children who were filmed standing by the rubble of their destroyed house and expressing their desire to become doctors, teachers and psychotherapist to help their communities.
The interview, however, was later morphed, she claimed, and posed a starkly contrasting question in the headline ‘Which of these children are to be doctors and which ones to become terrorists?’.
“None of the children had spoken anything about terrorism, extremism or revenge during their talk,” she stated.
The television presenter further pointed to some articles which had been published in mainstream magazines and newspapers in the West with one author quoting ‘I am an Islamophobic and I am proud of it’, while another stating “there is a need that Muslims suffer until they get their house in order”.
Booth urged the Muslims around the world to prepare and have more people who were able to speak in public presenting Islam in its true light.
She also stressed on the need to equip Muslim children with the mental faculty to understand and cogently portray Islam as a positive and viable way of life for mankind.
Earlier, IPS Executive President Khalid Rahman was of the view that the divergences between the Islamic world and the West must be transformed into cooperation or at least a healthy competition, as failure to do so could pave the way for dire consequences and undesired outcomes.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2019.
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