Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Media Bias: Muslims termed fundamentalist for no reason but others never termed fundamentalist


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Long back, in early 1980s, the most circulated English news magazine of the country, did a story on some Muslims not taking interest on their deposits in banks, and it had termed the act as sign of growing 'fundamentalism' among Muslims. 

How often do you see such alarmist articles or headlines in a major newspaper or magazine that talks about worries regarding growing fundamentalism among other religions in the country?

In that case it would be termed a sweeping statement or there would be outrage over how issue is being generalized. But in the case of Muslims, let's see how this narrative is created. 

We've not reached here in a day, it has taken years of such biased media coverage that lumpenised the middle-class and strengthened an impression that Muslims are 'regressive, backward and fundamentalist'. 

Term astrology a science, hail benefits of gau mutra or break coconut when plane brought or endless acts even in official ceremonies. Nothing is considered going back to 'fundamentals'. Ever heard the term used elsewhere, for others?

There are lynchings, forcible separation of couples, spouses separated by these self-styled vigilantes, murders in the name of cow and open threats over conversion, the threats to our religious structures and inflammatory speeches that talk about Hindu Rashtra. 
When almost everything we do, from the food we eat, rituals, lifestyle, wedding, religious symbols, everything is under attack, constantlly and factories continue their work round the clock, institutions have failed, laws are being misused. 
Besides, despite people like Shambhu Raigar, Dara Singh or Babu Babu Bajrangi, any article on radicalism among Hindus? No. The article was published in early 1980s. While Kerala Muslims went out, sent remittances, helped our economy grow.
From the Ram Janmbhumi movement to Gujarat riots, from marginalizing Muslims in jobs to avoiding homes on rent, there is a lot to show how right-wing fundamentalism became mainstream in India. That majority community has allowed the vigilante groups and not spoken against them, strongly, is never made an issue.
In a recent piece just a few days ago, it was casually mentioned that the sportsperson came from a 'orthodox Muslim family'. Now what does it mean! A normal Muslim family that prays or believes in its religion is 'normal or orthodox'. Does a Hindu who goes to temple or prays, is termed 'orthodox Hindu?. A normal Hindu or Muslim are those who believe in Hinduism and Islam, period.
However, when you are already having such strong stereotypes and see Muslims as the 'other', your coverage begins on this pattern. Hence, the mere fact that Muslims in Kerala were financially getting strong, couldn't be digested even then. So, the narrative of Kerala Muslims turning fundamentalists was peddled, so that there could be witch-hunt. Tough laws are brought on the basis of such reports that give credence to lies and more powers given to agencies. The pattern is always the same. 
Dollars are welcome, always, but when Muslims are involved, a spin is given to the story. The false bogey of Muslim infiltration in Bengal and Assam, which was exposed after Assam NRC, too shows how media has for ages played this dirty game. [Photo courtesy, Mr Terje Sollie, Pexels.]