UK parade through Wootton Bassett Essay
UK parade through Wootton Bassett
For the following representation investigation, I have chosen to analyse a series of news articles informing of the controversial plan for the Islamist group, “Islam4UK”, to march through Wootton Bassett where processions for dead British soldiers are held. This group intended to parade through the town with an anti-war statement, yet due to the delicate preference of town, public outcry ensued. The articles are all from independent internet news websites, being The Times Online, Sky News Online and The Telegraph. By doing so, a range of interpretations can be gauged, and differing ideologies identified.
The articles also span over a period of time. The Times focuses on the planning phase of the March, and early public reaction as a result. Sky News Online informs us of the community protest in the midst of the plight, where as The Telegraph reports on the climax of the intended Wootton Basset march, where Islam4UK discontinues any plans to proceed. Article one, published by The Times, is written as plans emerge of an Islamist protest group wanting to demonstrate the genocide of Muslims in Afghanistan as a result of British soldiers.
The reader immediately identifies bias within the newspaper with an adjective, followed by the subject “Muslim radicals”. The common noun “radicals” infer their unwanted perspective on society, with negative connotations of extremism. This portrayal of the Islam4UK group is continued in “Islam4Uk are organising a march in the coming weeks, which they claim will be in honour of Muslims killed in the Afghanistan conflict”. The finite verb ‘claim’ is an unmistakable inference that the article does not concur to their intentions.
Furthermore it suggests the Islam4UK group cannot be trusted, implying their motives for this march extend beyond what they let on. As the article progresses, public reaction is expressed as “The plans have sparked outrage in the quiet market town”. This adverbial phrase demonstrates juxtaposition, in that ‘outrage’ and ‘quiet’ do not seem to coincide, perhaps also presenting an oxymoronic statement. This collision of word choice may also serve as a metaphor, where the ‘radical’ group collide with conflicting views from the local community, and indeed the opinion of The Times.
The finite verb “sparked”, a synonym for trigger, can also correlate to its initiation of a flame, in that they have produced fury and heated response. The adjective “synonymous”, which is used to associate the public outrage with rising death toll, also provokes the reader to also become bias against the Islam4UK group. Throughout the article, there is also a sense of unity against ‘outsiders’. The rule of three is used to address a community bond as “friends, relatives, fellow servicemen and woman line the streets to pay their respects”.
The noun ‘friends’ also reinforces the tight community spirit and similar sentiment shared between them. Later in the article, it is learnt that “Wiltshire Police will be liaising closely with the local community”. The proper nouns ‘Wiltshire’ and ‘Police’ evoke a sense of power and significance towards the police, as if to say they hold high position in hierarchy over the situation. The present participle verb “liaising” also suggests teamwork, in preventing Islam4UK going ahead with the march. When group leader Anjem Choudry speaks, he states the “British public are blissfully unaware of what’s going on”.
The readers of the article themselves are targeted, and it can be deduced that, we as a nation, are ignorant of the true events in Afghanistan. The adverb “blissfully” has connotations of happiness, as if to say that we are nai?? ve, but there is also underlying subtlety that we hold a sadistic view on the deaths of the Muslims. This is an accusation that would evoke anger towards the Islam4UK group, and therefore has been selected by The Times to create a biased perception. Approaching the end of the article, the short sentence “He called on the media not to give the group any attention” is on a separate line.
The independent clause “He called on the media” suggests Anjem Choudry holds an egotistical view and this portrayal of him is emphasised due to the fact that the sentence is short and segregated from the text. Moreover, it can perhaps be perceived as ironic that by publishing this statement, The Times defy his wishes, producing a whole article on the matter. There is metaphorical interpretation of rebellion and uprising to leader Anjem Choudry. It can therefore be assumed that The Times hold a bias view against the group Islam4UK due to the choice of language used in the article.
It finishes with words chosen by the group leader of wanting to “highlight the real casualties of this brutal Crusade”. The adjective “brutal” has implication of cruelty and unnecessary violence. This attack on the British army and its community inevitably provokes anger, an emotion which The Times targets to side against the group. The Sky News Online article centres on a Facebook protest group, founded by Jo Cleary. The article is written in the midst of the media attention, and predominantly focuses on quotations by Jo Cleary.
It is therefore difficult to recognise bias from the journalist and initially it would seem more a neutral observer on the plight. However, choice of quotations used by Jo Cleary suggests Sky News Online wish to convey their own message on the matter. In the article, it states that Ms Cleary “called on Mr Brown” to “avoid one of his wishy-washy statements”. Ms Cleary is made the subject in this sentence and therefore demonstrates her as the significant person. “Wishy-washy” is an appropriate idiom as it’s vague and unclear to meaning or definition.
A statement from Mr Brown is later made with “I am personally appalled by the prospect of a march in Wootton Basset”. The adverb ‘personally’, despite perhaps being unnecessary as the pronoun ‘I’ provides the subject to the verb, adds emphasis to his opinion. By gaining the opinion of the countries leader, Sky News Online manages to infer that the prospect of the march has caused outcry on a vast scale. As the article progresses, the simple sentence “We are not anti-Muslim” is used. This choice of sentence length conveys their message in a concise and powerful way.
The collective pronoun “We” also accommodates for those who do not have the ability to express their views in the article. She supports this claim immediately stating she has had “many, many emails from Muslims thanking me for setting up the group”. The repetition of this quantifier puts stress on the amount of emails she has had, yet is also used for the reader to understand that the Muslim group Islam4UK are a minority. After Ms Cleary explains she provides support for the grieving, the quotation “So I appreciate and understand … the importance of the reception their children get at Wootton Basset”.
The ellipsis used means omission of part of the sentence and was perhaps done due to a lengthy answer given by Jo Cleary. However the primary use of the ellipsis was most likely so Sky News Online could choose words spoken at their own desire to best fit their own ideologies. “Their children” is a stark reminder that many of the dead have families, and ‘brings home’ the issue of Islam4UK wanting to protest on through a town of such significance. The article finishes with a quote “We’ve been watching Sky News and have seen this lunatic”. The noun ‘lunatic’ has connotations of a madman but also a dangerous one.
The journalist’s choice to finish the article in such manner leaves the reader with thoughts of extremism, and therefore, despite Sky News Online appearing to be noncommittal in viewpoint at first glance, it can be deduced that the article holds bias view through choice of language. The Telegraphs article is written after Mr Choudary announces plans of the march have been cancelled. It focuses more on what Mr Choudary has to say as opposed to public opinion, and therefore the reader gains an opportunity to learn about his motives and intentions.
A statement from the group leader said they had “successfully highlighted the plight of Muslims in Afghanistan”. This sentence gives an overall impression of simply wanting to raise awareness, and choice of vocabulary suggests intellectual reasoning. The noun “plight” also explains that the Muslims also face a distressing situation, allowing the reader to empathise. As the article progresses, the group leader of Islam4UK announces cancellation of the proposed march after consultations. He does this by first stating that “in light of this we would like to announce… “.
By starting the announcement in such manner, the reader can deduce reasoned judgment on Choudary’s behalf. It shows assessment of the situation, and understanding from the opposition’s point of view. Therefore, the reader avoids prejudiced connotations of extremism and radicalism. Furthermore, the verb “like” appeals to the reader as it proves free will over the matter, rather than cancellation of the march due to pressure from external parties such as the government. Another quote from Anjem Choudary is used by The Telegraph, requesting for the friends and families of those who have died to “engage in an honest dialogue”.
The choice of vocabulary suggests formality yet the adjective “honest” is vague. On one hand it can be seen as an appeal for Choudary to explain his actions, perhaps an apology, but it can also be interpreted as an accusation towards them, as if to say they have been falsely relaying information towards the media. Choudary later explains “No sooner had I mentioned the desire to march, Mr. Brown condemned it”. It can be inferred that due to the immediacy of the condemnation, Mr. Brown was unfair and unjustified, acting off of public opinion for his own interests – to gain approval and positive publicity.
This is further demonstrated as the pronoun ‘Mr. Brown’ is towards the end of the sentence and not the subject in the main clause. Despite holding an important and powerful position in the UK, it is evident that Mr. Choudary does not approve of Mr. Browns decision. The Telegraph also uses the opinion of Mr. Gray, a local MP. Despite Mr. Gray speaking out against the proposals, his choice of language is positive. He states he is “very glad” Islam4UK has abandoned its plans as opposed to condemning them for producing plans to begin with.
The Telegraph also states Mr. Gray “said Mr. Choudary’s actions had now been proven to be a “media stunt””. This demonstrates to the reader that the situation was actually more trivial and flippant. It is therefore clear that The Times have used language to support Anjem Choudary, mainly by use of his own speech. Nevertheless, choice of his own speech is a clear indication that The Times intentions were to give Choudary an opportunity to speak, perhaps due to the rest of the medias negative portrayal.
In conclusion, all three articles present different ideologies on the Islam4UK parade through Wootton Basset. Noticeable difference of view is within The Times and The Telegraph, with Sky News Online also leaning towards a bias representation. Interestingly, the majority of The Telegraphs article consisted of quotations, perhaps an indication that the journalist was attempting to separate himself from the state of affairs. This may be due to the fact that The Telegraph, being right wing should support Mr. Brown yet use of Choundary’s quotes in fact did the contrary.
I believe that The Times used language most effectively in showing bias, simply because it was fairly direct and therefore there was no doubt in their views. Language such as “blood-thirstingly in favour of the war” is made to seem as a direct quote from Choundary, yet is in fact used by those opposing him. No quotations were used to defend Choundary , yet despite this, my personal opinion does not support Choundary’s actions and I believe it would have been wrong for Islam4UK group to march through a town of such significance.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 July 2017
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