Islamabad: Persistent negative portrayal of Muslims in Western media is igniting hatred against them and creating massive Islamophobia, which is making their lives difficult, even forcing them to train their children and girls with the art of self defence in the face of a constant threat.
The revelation was made by Lauren Booth, a British TV presenter, broadcaster, journalist and activist and author of Finding Peace in The Holy Land. She was delivering a talk on the topic of ‘Islam and the West: Bridging the Gaps’ at Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad. A sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Booth is one of most high-profile converts to Islam in the West.
She was however firm that the real job of Muslims was to hold onto their faith and not to lose it in the face of violence. She regarded the frequently used term ‘clash of civilization’ highly inappropriate maintaining that the objectives of Islam have never been to induce a clash among civilizations but to alleviate and upgrade them to an improved level. Contrary to the much propagated narrative, the religion does not hold back modernization, instead it rekindles it, she maintained.
Booth shed light on various methods and tactics of Western media rhetoric that were being used to paint a darker picture of Muslims globally. Mediums of information and entertainment, such as newspapers, channels, films, cartoons and now even video games were being used as tools to spread hate-filled propaganda, she told, citing cases of negative framing of Muslims by the Western media where the reality was morphed altogether to give a completely contradicting view. She opined that the common people in the West were being deprived of basic knowledge and comprehension of Islam as it has never been communicated to them truthfully. Instead, a false image of the religion is consistently being sold to them by the people with agenda who master the art of persuasive storytelling.
Booth presented many examples to back her arguments including an interview of Palestinian children standing by the rubble of their destroyed house, expressing their desire to become doctors, teachers and psychotherapist to help their communities. The interview however was later morphed, she told, rather posing a starkly contrasting question in the headline ‘Which of these children are to be doctors and which ones to become terrorists?”. The matter of fact however was that none of the children had spoken anything about terrorism, extremism or revenge during their talk, she added.
The speaker in addition also pointed at some articles published in the 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 in the end urged the Muslims globally 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 of equipping Muslim children to be able to understand and cogently portray Islam as a positive and most viable way of life for the mankind.
The Institute’s Executive President Khalid Rahman earlier in his welcome note was of the view that the divergences between Islamic world and the West must be transformed into cooperation or at least a healthy competition, as failing in doing so could pave the way for dire consequences and undesired outcomes.