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Published in the 1-15 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

MEDIA

Western media projecting negative image of Muslims

Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim University Students Union organised a one-day national meet on 12 January on the theme ‘Image of Muslims in Media’. Most of those who spoke on the occasion were of the view that western media project a negative image of Muslims under a conspiracy. The western media due to ignorance about the affairs of Muslims do not project a balanced view about Muslims. The attitude of Indian media towards Muslims was positive. They were of the opinion that in order to understand the thinking and attitude of Muslims, views of Muslim youths and intellectuals should be understood. They suggested that educated sections of Muslims should write letters and articles in newspapers and create public opinion about the fundamental problems of Muslims.

President of the Students Union, Naseem Ashraf while welcoming the delegates said that the views of a few people are taken as the views of all Muslims. The new generation which faces new challenges can present their views in a better manner. The views of the new generation should be respected by the media.

Editor of the Milli Gazette, Dr Zafarul Islam Khan said that eversince Independence it has been an important issue for Muslims. National media presents facts in a distorted manner and the achievements and good works of Muslims are completely ignored. He added that some vernacular newspapers specialise in spreading communal poison, English media do not spoil the image of Muslims deliberately. He said that the ratio of Muslims in media is very small and therefore they should enter the field after properly equipping themselves. He added that this is the age of public opinion and it is a pity that out of 70 TV channels in the country there is not a single TV channel of Muslims and Muslims themselves are responsible for their poor image.

Anil Maheswari of the Hindustan Times said that English media is totally unaware of the problems and difficulties of Muslims and that people in English media do not want to understand the Muslim mind. The English media give importance to the statements of only self-styled Muslim leaders. He further said that he has been reporting about AMU for the past 25 years, but he never came across any activities of SIMI, whereas English media has been unnecessarily presenting a negative image of the university in the name of SIMI.

Joint Editor of the Rashtriya Sahara, Aziz Burney said that newspapers and media have been blaming Muslims for the past 57 years for being responsible for Partition of the country, but the reality is that Muslims were not responsible for it. Muslims are dubbed as terrorists and Kashmir described as a problem of that state,, the media should talk about those who are living in the state.

He described Narendra Modi’s statements and speeches as the reasons responsible for Gujarat riots because it was he who had said that the riots were the reaction of a previous action (Godhra train incident). He said that the problem of Muslims’ image in media is the problem of all Muslims. He added that the Students Union deserved their congratulation for holding the seminar and that AMU had been the brain of India.

Ms Kulsum Talha of Associated Press said that the image of any society is like a mirror and in India the image of Muslims is spoilt because of politics. She advised Muslims not to have the feeling of inferiority complex. She said that as a Muslim she never had the feeling that she was in any way discriminated against because she was well-educated.

The BBC representative, Sanjay Shrivastava said that he found Muslims having the feeling of insecurity and in the West they are being projected as terrorists. In India even now the media is not biased.

VC, Naeem Ahmad said that we should communicate our views and problems to media through letters and articles as there was difference between news and views. Muslims should try to win the confidence and favour of the general public. On the whole Indian media’s role towards Muslims has been positive as it was seen during the Gujarat riots, he added 

The meeting observed a two minutes silence to pay respect to those killed during Tsunami. 
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