Given the mainstream media’s constant sensationalized reporting on terror and Muslims in the Western world, the utter lack of coverage of London’s anti-ISIS march on Sunday, [the 6th] revealed the double standard that exists in reporting on peaceful Muslims.
Attendees took to the streets with signs that read “Islam promotes human rights” and “terrorism has no religion,” underscoring Islam’s essential but often ignored promotion of peace.
Thousands of marchers participated in the annual UK Arbaeen Procession, organized by the Husaini Islamic Trust UK.
Arbaeen, or mourning, is a Shia Muslim tradition to mark the anniversary of seventh-century social justice leader Imam Husain. However, in light of recent radical Islamist inspired terror attacks on Paris and Brussels, organizers took the controversial step of turning their march political in order to denounce terror in all forms.
Waqar Haider, one of the organizers, told The Independent about the transformation: “This year we had hundreds of placards which were basically saying ‘no’ to terrorism and ‘no’ to ISIS. A very direct message.
“For us it was a controversial move to go political. Normally we don’t mix politics with mourning. However with what’s happened recently, we thought we had to make sure we as a community totally disassociate ourselves with what’s happening elsewhere in the world,” Haider added.
And while radicalized Muslim attackers make up a minute fraction of the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide—who account for 22% of the global population—the media covers these Muslims almost exclusively.
Volunteer Mohammed Al-Sharifi told The Independent about this double standard: “Unfortunately [some] media outlets have gone for stories that to some extent can be divisive. If a group of Muslims do something good, it’s not mentioned or the religion is not mentioned. But if someone does something [negative], it is on the front page and their religion is mentioned.”
Waqar Haider added that although the event is the oldest such Muslim-organized event in London, media coverage is difficult to acquire.
“I think it’s because of stereotyping. People see the entire Muslim community as one community,” Haider said.
“[But] the Muslim community is a very diverse community, with the vast majority of us horrified by ISIS.
Haider added: “With our event, we had so many people from different ethnic backgrounds. It’s more of a family event in terms of people it attracts.”
ISIS has terrorized large-majority Muslim countries in the Middle East like Syria and Iraq since Western-led intervention destabilized the entire region.
Tens of thousands of Muslims have been killed and displaced by ISIS’s declared caliphate, an exponentially larger number than those killed in attacks in the West.
Yet even symbols of solidarity, like lighting the Eiffel Tower in the colors of Belgium after the recent ISIS-claimed terror attack, are not repeated for non-Western countries.
An attack in Lahore, Pakistan killed 69 predominately women and children just six days after the attack in Brussels, yet no such display of solidarity was shown by Paris. Pakistan is a Muslim majority country.
“… I think people realize there is a huge disparity between what they’re being fed in the media and the reality of the day-to-day interactions they have with Muslims at work, at school,” Mr. Al-Sharifi told The Independent, calling for the UK’s leadership to take greater steps to combat Islamophobia.
Islamophobic attacks have risen significantly both in Europe and the U.S. over the past year.
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