Research: UK’s Poor Reporting, Media Illiteracy Fueling Islamophobia


The way the UK’s mainstream media covers certain issues relating to Muslims and the British Islamic community’s inability to represent itself are contributing to rising Islamophobia, recent research suggests.

Developed across the University of Cambridge, research conducted over 2015 led to a roundtable at the House of Lords in January that discovered an “atmosphere of rising hostility” towards the country’s 2.7 million Musilms, who comprise less than five percent of the 64 million-strong population. Meanwhile, the two factors meant more Muslims were seeking news from other sources, such as television or radio stations from their countries of origin.

“British minority group disaffection with local media is encouraging their members to turn to media from their regions of origin, which may be concerning for government,” said Roxane Farmanfarmaian, principal at the university’s Centre of the International Studies of the Middle East and North Africa.

Farmanfarmaian also heads the University of Cambridge-Al Jazeera Media Project, an initative independent of Al Jazeera Media Network. “Many Muslim communities don’t have media literacy,” Farmanfarmaian told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

The report – titled Media, Faith and Security: Protecting freedom of expression in religious context – found “the Muslim community’s fragmentation and lack of professional training in working with the media means it is ill-equipped to counter negative narratives by promoting more balanced reporting. “The outcome is a serious breakdown in the multicultural agenda.”