Islamophobia is an issue that doesn’t just reside within the Conservative Party, but it is an increasing issue in wider society but why has anti-Muslim rhetoric increased amongst the general population? Many would point to the anti-Islam headlines that are often spread across all news sources but the issue is sure much deeper than just the newspapers because even those on the right have anti-establishment leanings.

There are several points to this and it is largely down to how the media has portrayed Muslims and not just an attempt to be negative but supposed positive coverage as well.

This shows at the very least implicit bias even if it is not the intention.

Media negativity

Negative media coverage over Islam is something we all see and many major newspapers outlets have run stories that have cast Muslims in a negative light and many of these stories have usually been factually incorrect, leading to IPSO forcing them to publish corrections months later after the damage is done and the outlets burying those corrections in the process.

Some of the corrections include the Daily Telegraph running the headline ‘Muslim family want ‘non believer’ exhumed’ in 2015, however, after three months IPSO brokered a correction that included the line “The Council denies ever suggesting exhumation of Mr Smith’s body, and has asked us to make clear its position that it has never discussed or considered this.” The same story had to be corrected by the Mail Online as well.

The Sun and the Times both published headlines that claimed one in five British Muslims sympathise with ISIS, however, both papers a day apart misled the public because the Survation poll that they were citing never specifically stated ISIS or Jihadis in the question, the actual question was “how do you feel about young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria?”. The above are just a couple of examples but anti-Islam rhetoric is common.

Anti-Islam victim blaming

Interestingly, no-one ever picks up the relationship between those in the media and the Muslims who do get a lot of airtime within the mainstream. In 2016 Anjem Choudary was rightly convicted for inviting support for ISIS but his relationship with the media was not that of contempt but Choudary himself stated in the trial that he would bait his contacts to get the airtime necessary.

The problem with this is that he doesn’t represent mainstream Muslim views however, the media saw him as a Muslim voice.

Choudary was representative of the aggrieved Muslim voice but an extreme one and it wasn’t hidden, he was on Newsnight to comment on Lee Rigby’s murder and appeared several other occasions lauding British suicide bombers in Israel, praising poppy burners who were protesting on Remembrance Day plus more. Continually giving someone like Choudary a platform to project his voice creates a negative image of Muslims within the psyche of the population.

This can be further demonstrated when the only time the vast majority of the media completely outrage over Arabs and Muslims being killed is when they are being killed by Muslims, similar to the ‘black on black’ narrative with knife and gun crime in London, the lack of similar reporting to a white supremacist terrorist attacks on the Muslim community as an Islamist extremist attack on the Muslim community often finds a way of portraying the whole of Islam as the problem rather than pin pointing the issues of radicalisation.