Research claims that the British media is demonising Muslims

By staff writers
November 14, 2007

An amalgam of research projects prepared by members of an expert panel examining published newspaper articles and reporting the experiences of Muslim journalists has revealed a "torrent" of negative stories and widespread prejudice.

According to a report published earlier this week, research into one week's news coverage alone showed that 91% of articles in national newspapers about Muslims were negative in tone and content.

The study was commissioned by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, who said the findings were a "damning indictment" of the media and urged editors and programme makers to review the way they portray Muslims in general.

"The overall picture presented by the media is that Islam is profoundly different from and a threat to the west," he declared to reporters and news agencies.

"There is a scale of imbalance which no fair-minded person would think is right." Only 4% of the 352 articles studied were positive, Livingstone said.

The mayor claims the findings show a "hostile and scaremongering attitude" towards Islam and he likened the coverage to the way the left was attacked by national newspapers in the early 1980s - when he was head of the former Greater London Council, famously denounced as "loony" and abolished by then Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher.

"The charge is that there are virtually no positive or balanced images of Islam being portrayed," said Mr Livingstone.

He added: "I think there is a demonisation of Islam going on which damages community relations and creates alarm among Muslims."

The study highlights a report which claimed that Christmas was being banned in one area because it offended Muslims, which researchers said was "inaccurate and alarmist".

It says Muslims in Britain are sometimes depicted as a threat to traditional British values, and the coverage weakens government attempts to combat extremism by lumping whole groups of people together indiscriminately.

Hugh Muir of the Guardian newspaper was one of those involve in preparing the study.

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