Journalists Views on Islam in Media
Syed Ali Mujtaba
We often hear that Islam being misrepresented in the media and the Muslim community is subjected to bad press in India. Recently some Muslim journalist held a discussion over this subject in New Delhi and made some interesting observation on this issue that needs to be highlighted.
The basic reason of misrepresentation of Islam in the media was ignorance but in some cases deliberate intention could not be ruled out, said Syed Liyaquat Husain, Senior Editor, Arab News.
According to him, the role of the desk was very vital in shaping a news item. The stories that are finalized passes through various levels and through subbing and editing it is scrutinized. In this process the news gets the headlines and other sugar coatings, keeping the policy of the media house in view. Some particular terms like "Islamic terrorism" or "political Islam" were generally added by the desk. So it’s important the copy at the news desk is handled responsibly.
Mr Wasimul Haque, Editor, Akhbaar-e-Mashrique said the need of the hour was participation of Muslims in a substantial number having knowledge about their religion and issues of the community, besides comprehensive general knowledge.
Dr S Q R Ilyas, editor, Afkaar-e-Milli, highlighting media's coverage of Muslim issues, stressed on the fact that the Muslim community should pay attention towards taking up media as a profession to address the issue of biases and misrepresentation against them.
The issue of coverage of Islam and Muslim problems was of utmost importance, said Suhail Anjum, correspondent Voice of America, New Delhi.
Such issues get a little space and those that get covered were generally ill-informed and superficial. The reporters and correspondents were sometimes handicapped of facts and figures about the issues related to Islam and Muslims, he said.
Dr M Manzoor Alam, Chairman, Institute of Objective Studies said it is the responsibility of the Muslim community to manage a data bank on Islam and Muslim issues in India and added that his institute is making efforts in that direction.
Parwaaz Rahmani, Chief Editor, Sehroza Dawat, urged the Muslim community to keep in touch with what's reported in the media and write rejoinders and letters to the editors of different newspapers and periodicals on the issues that concerns them.
According to him sometimes the coverage of events depended upon the view of the organizers. This has happened in the coverage of “Deoband Conclave” when the world only came to know through the media that Muslims had now condemned terrorism. He made it clear that the Muslim community like any other community never supported terrorism and Islam had nothing to do with terrorism. The concept of Jihad meant 'struggle' against injustice but it had been mistaken as an armed war against non-Islam, he said.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org