Radicalisation: “Dangerous game fuelled by the media”
Three key points:
The disproportionate attention given to “radicalism” on TV screens and front pages of newspapers feeds into ongoing misrepresentations of Muslims living in western nations. Although the government has assured us the latest measure does “not intend to demonise Muslim Australians”, there is no denying “radicalisation” is treated in the public debate as though it were exclusively bound up with the menace of Islamism. It’s a dangerous game fuelled by the media. The Islamic State plays on this very knowledge as part of its campaign of fear. They have been able to take advantage of the west’s fear of home-grown radicalism and demonisation of Muslims in the media to stoke opposition. It also misses one of the most crucial points about IS: the foundation of its power comes from politics, not religion.
Limiting radicalism to a debate around Islamic faith represents this as a fear that somehow excludes Muslims, as though the fear of religious extremism were only a western preoccupation. The majority of Muslims want to live their lives in peace. But their views are not represented in the media – except in minority publications – and when they are offered a platform to speak it is only in the context of debates on radicalism.
If we are concerned about preventing home grown radicalism, we should stop creating such a climate of hysteria and drop the divisive, reductionist rhetoric. We need to engage in a more complex public discourse in the media. This requires engaging with the Australian Muslim community – not just the people who put their hands up as leaders, but a range of voices from within the community. It means representing the diversity of experiences and viewpoints – across gender, age, ethnicity and sect – that make up the Muslim communities.
Read full article by Kavita Bedford, at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/01/to-prevent-homegrown-islamist-radicalism-drop-the-media-hysteria