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The British Media and Muslim Representation: The Ideology of Demonisation Essay

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A report entitled, ‘The British Media and Muslim Representation: The Ideology of Demonisation” (Ameli, Marandi, Ahmed, Kara, & Merali, 2007) for the Islamic Rights Commission explored the relationship between perceptions by and of Muslims and the role of domination and demonisation in the cultural language of the media. The sixth report in the British Muslims’ Expectations of Government series involved questions such as: How has the Western media generally covered Islam and Muslims? What are the concerns about media reporting and why does representation matter? What action do Muslims expect the government to take to remedy any unfairness?

By analysing responses from a nationwide survey of 1125 Muslims, and answers from 57 qualitative questionnaires and analyses of television news, films and English literature this report sought to answer some of these questions and to understand how media can influence public understanding and viewpoints (Ameli, Marandi, Ahmed, Kara, & Merali, 2007).

As to the Muslim perception of the media corroborated by a variety of studies, there is a dominant perception amongst Muslims that the media does indeed portray them and their religion in an inaccurate and derogatory manner (Ameli, Marandi, Ahmed, Kara, & Merali, 2007).

Effectively then, what the public understand about Muslims in general and British Muslims in particular is understood to deeply related to ‘British Muslim representation’ not only in the media but also in the whole social systems of the West. Representation is not only about perception, the position of the reader and audience is very critical (Ameli, Marandi, Ahmed, Kara, & Merali, 2007). That is why non-British Muslims and British Muslims do not have a similar understanding of Muslim representation in the media (Hill, 1981, Fregoso, 1993 and Hall, 1997).

Research findings showed that “analysis highlighted institutionalized prejudice that was so embedded that anti-Muslim prejudice did not need to be maliciously motivated or intentional as it was structural” (Ameli, Marandi, Ahmed, Kara, & Merali, 2007). These analyses from the outset sought to recognize the many examples of good practice in the media, in particular TV and print media attempts at key times to educate audiences about Islam and Muslims (Ameli, Marandi, Ahmed, Kara, & Merali, 2007).

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