Dishonest Media Reporting On Terrorism Is Putting the Social Unity of Britain at Risk
Maz Saleem: Fatal attacks on Muslims will continue if the media persists in portraying us as terrorists
My deepest sympathies and condolences go to all those who lost loved ones and were injured in the attacks in Westminster last week. I feel very strongly about such incidents because my father was murdered by neo Nazi-fascist terrorists and I am still struggling to cope with this tragic loss in my family.
My father Mohammed Saleem was a Muslim and he was murdered by the same far-right terrorist who bombed mosques in the West Midlands and became known as “The Tipton Bomber.” Quite rightly we do not equate all white people with this terrorist, but why are all Muslims treated as potential terrorists?
My father and my family are Muslims and the victims of terrorism. In August 2015, Muhsin Ahmed, an 81 year old Muslim pensioner, was murdered in Rotherham. He and his family are also victims of terrorism.
I fear there could be more similar attacks if the approach of depicting all Muslims as terrorists continues. We must not let the right-wing media, politicians and Islamophobes divide us. Hate crimes at home and abroad have already risen to unprecedented levels.
I personally feel appalled that every time there is an act of terrorism in the UK and Europe my father barely gets a mention and neither do the three mosque bombings in the West Midlands. I have gone back and forth with the BBC complaints department to address my father’s murder as the BBC continually refuses to accept it as an act of terrorism and constantly describes it as a “far right attack.” An accurate description would be a “far-right terrorist attack,” as the murderer was charged under the Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.
The BBC is supposed to be the gold stand of journalism but I find it unethical and unacceptable that such blatant and deliberate conditioning of minds is actually being pushed by them. The BBC should always be intelligently challenged and criticised. As they argued with me via emails that there can be an “Islamist terrorist,” then there can also be a “far right terrorist” otherwise it looks like only Muslims are terrorists. This is a mis-education of the British people and I would expect much higher standards from a publicly-funded broadcaster.
Inaccurate descriptions of my father’s murder show a callous indifference to my family’s suffering. I pointed this out to the BBC because I want no other family in such circumstances to be ignored, or worse rejected. We must build a narrative that allows black, white, Muslim, Christians and Jews to live together without negative views of each being platformed by the BBC.
I request those that are writing about the recent attacks that they do not exclude my father’s terrorist murder and the three mosque bombings in the West Midlands. It is also worth remembering that thousands of innocent Muslim civilians who are no less innocent than those who were killed in London have been murdered across the world in the last few months by ISIS and by other extremist jihadi groups.
Since the 1990s over four million Muslims have been killed in Western wars and 94% of terror attacks in Europe are committed by non-Muslims. But it seems as though the media always manipulates the truth. This was undoubtedly the case with the outrageous reports of Birmingham being the “jihadi” capital of Europe.
The six people arrested in Birmingham as part of the investigation into the attack in Westminster have all been released from police custody, with no further police action. The right-wing press bagged the headlines they needed and it went along perfectly with the right-wing narrative that Birmingham is a breeding hub for jihadists. The damage has been done.
Every time an alleged act of terror occurs I watch in anxiety – just like every other Muslim – praying that the suspect is not a Muslim. This is not because these terrorists are likely to be Muslim but rather because in the instances where they happen to be, we see magnified media coverage and unjustified hatred towards Muslims in an instant.
As a Muslim, I am tired of Muslims condemning attacks being carried out by so-called Muslims. No one condemned my father’s brutal terrorist murder or the three mosque bombings, but I clearly remember Muslims attending Theresa May’s COBRA meetings for Lee Rigby. No such COBRA meetings were held for my dear father Mohammed Saleem.
We must remember the last act of terror before Westminster wasn’t Lee Rigby in May 2013 like some media reports are claiming. It was the murder of Jo Cox MP last summer. She was killed by the white far-right extremist Thomas Mair. Mair was convicted as a terrorist. Yet the deafening silence from the media regarding the most recent act of act of terrorism on UK streets is deplorable.
Thomas Mair pledged allegiance several times to Britain First before he brutally murdered Jo Cox. Yet Britain First will be allowed to march this weekend. Had it been a Muslim who murdered Jo Cox the movement he was associated with would have been shut down in an instant by authorities. The absolute hypocrisy of it all is blatantly outrageous.
Understandably, tensions are high in the UK after last week’s attacks but we must hold the media, right-wing politicians and far-right extremists, such as Britain First and the EDL, accountable because they are trying their best to exploit the recent attacks to divide our communities and stir up Islamophobia. They are even being allowed to march on our streets in early April to spread their vile Islamophobia. They should all be held accountable for skillfully using the Westminster incident to promote nationalism and anti-Muslim propaganda.
Yet, what we see instead are people holding “Not In Our Name’ demonstrations across the country. I question where were your demonstrations when my father was horrifically killed in a terrorist attack in the so called “jihadi” capital of Britain. Do Muslim lives really matter?