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EDITORIAL: 16-31 December 2001

MG, Media and Muslims

With this issue The Milli Gazette completes its second year of publication. This occasion coincides with the recent media onslaught on Muslims the world over. Earlier Muslims were blamed to be ‘fundamentalists,’ now they are accused of being ‘terrorists.’ With all the basic changes that have suddenly taken place after 9-11 the media in general has started taking liberties with Muslims both at home and abroad. Mere allegations are reproduced in full faith as if they are facts. This trend was started at home by a partisan home minister who sees terrorists lurking behind every mosque and madrasah. Now the American media has facilitated the job of this ilk. Not only Muslims in our own country, even in traditionally pro-west countries, leaders and ordinary people feel this onslaught. Recently even the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Prince Abdallah ibn Abdil Aziz, publicly stated that certain sections of foreign media were carrying on a campaign against his country only because it adhered to Islam and defended Muslims the world over. He reiterated the fact that Islam stood against extremism and terrorism. “Islam is a religion of love and peace, far from extremism and terrorism in all its forms,” the crown prince stated.

The reason why western media takes such liberties with us and treats our rejoinders with utmost contempt is that we ourselves have failed to make any mark on the world media scene. All we have is local media in our own preferred languages. Yet we somehow delude ourselves with the belief that, with some publications in Urdu and Arabic to our credit, we have met the information media challenge. There is still a great void when it comes to our presence on the world stage. The world at large does not hear our voice except through secondary or biased sources. It is a fact that we do not have any international newspaper or magazine in a universal language like English which is read all over the world and influences public opinion. Even in India we do not have an effective presence in regional languages with some exceptions here and there like Kerala’s Madhyamam and Chandrika and Gujarat’s Gujarat Samachar. The mere presence of these newspapers has had a sobering effect on the local media which used to be very free about hurting Muslim sentiments and publishing false news. Now with such publications they are careful about what they publish because denial will be quick and no publication would like to be caught telling lies.

It is time the whole Ummah stood up and took stock of the situation in order to rectify this horrible flaw in our preparations to meet the challenges of modern times and world. It is the duty of Muslim states and Muslim businessmen to come forward and launch as many as possible publishing ventures in various modern and regional languages. The technology and expertise are available in abundance only if there is a realisation of the challenges facing us. Al-Jazeerah Satellite Channel of a small Gulf state has shown that we can achieve international presence with proper resources, will and the freedoms necessary to nourish modern media. The general public too has to shoulder its responsibility. There must be a positive trend to buy Muslim media publications and promote them by using them as our advertising vehicles. 

This brings us to The Milli Gazette which was launched two years ago precisely with these objectives - to fill our media vacuum in English at home and abroad. Though we have been successful catching readers’ attention and laurels have come our way in abundance but this has not translated into the kind of material support such a publication should receive from the community in order to succeed. And the result is that we are still far from our goal of converting MG into a weekly. Other goals of launching new editions from various points seem a distant dream. More planned steps, like editions in regional languages like Hindi, Internet TV etc should best be forgotten at this point of time.

It is our earnest wish that our readers and admirers realise their duties and come forward to promote Muslim media, especially in languages read by our new generations and by non-Muslims. Let every educated Muslim make it a point to buy at least two Muslim publications. Let every Muslim businessman make conscientious effort to promote Muslim newspapers and magazines by diverting a small proportion of his advertising budget to these publications. If we can do this we will have no reason to complain media distortions in a world where minds and souls are won much before bodies and lands. Western countries’ brazen misuse of media during the current war on Afghanistan, to the extent of bombing Al-Jazeera office in Kabul in order to stop the other side of the story being told, has clearly shown that we have no options but to take care of the media front in right earnest.
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