Negative portrayal of Muslims in media fuels prejudice, Leveson Inquiry told

ENGAGE logoThe amount of negative stories about Muslims in the UK was demonising a whole religion the Leveson Inquiry has heard. Inayat Bunglawala, consultant editor to ENGAGE, appeared at the Inquiry to present evidence on representations of Islam and Muslims in the British media.

In its written submission to the Leveson Inquiry, ENGAGE highlighted the inadequate provisions in the Press Complaints Commission’s Code of Practice to handle third party complaints and its negative cumulative impact on processes for redress of grievance.

It also heard that the excessive media attention granted to fringe Muslim groups to demonised the wider British Muslim population; and instances of gross misrepresentation or fabrication in the production of news stories relating to Islam and British Muslims fuelled a false narrative.

ENGAGE stated in its written submission, “In consideration of the enormous impact of coverage that is proven to be inaccurate, inflammatory, prejudicial and detrimental to the representation of social groups in society, whether composed of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability, the exclusion of ‘third party’ complaints is deeply unsatisfactory and remains a grave deficit in the complaints handling powers and procedures of the Press Complaints Commission.

“A more robust system of self-regulation is required, one which mandates the right of third party complainants to challenge misrepresentations, inaccuracies and false reporting.

“British Muslims as a social group collectively suffer from poor media practices, whether this be the excessive attention granted to fringe Muslim groups, like Muslims Against Crusades, by the media or poor fact-checking prior to publication.

“Improving media practices and media responsibility on portraying and reporting fairly on Islam and British Muslims, without bias or discrimination or intent to incite anti-Muslim prejudice, is an urgent concern.”

Asian Image, 25 January 2012