UK Course on Islam and the Media

In the last few years, there are have been several laws passed in different European countries that relate to Muslim communities. For example, in France and Belgium, laws were passed banning the niqab and in Switzerland a law was passed to ban the building of minarets. Many Muslims considered these moves to be a sign of an anti-Muslim sentiment. Occasionally, however, there are stories that indicate positive change.

This past January, the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom introduced a new class on Muslim women and the media. The first of its kind, the course will examine the role of women in Islam and how they are portrayed  in the media. The class will look at various issues that include wearing the hijab, marriage, and “honor” crimes and how they are addressed in film, television, and the media in general.

The course will be taught by Dr. Eylem Atakav, who graduated from Ankara, Turkey. Atakav argues that the media often portray issues like “honor” crimes as being Muslim issues rather than instances of violence against women. Atakav states that if an Arab woman, for example, is killed by a man in her family, it is labeled an “honor” crime, but if a British woman were killed by her husband for infidelity, it is simply called murder. According to Atakav, the media plays an important role in perceptions of Islam and she hopes her course will change attitudes.

This course is one example of new ways to educate people about Islam and Muslims. In the same month, in Germany, the first university department of Islamic theology opened. Moreover, institutions have been established to train imams who are familiar with the struggles of the German Muslim community. These kinds of initiatives pave the way for more dialogue and allow European Muslims to feel that there is a real interest in understanding their communities. Hopefully, more projects like these will continue to emerge all over the world.

What do you think about initiatives like the new course at the University of East Anglia? Do you think that more education can counter Islamophobia? Do you think that the media contributes negatively to the perception of Islam and Muslims? Please share your comments below.

2 thoughts on “UK Course on Islam and the Media

  1. Islamophobia is a term that presupposes that there is an illogical, or abnormal fear of the religion of Islam. It does not seem illogical to be suspicious of those that follow Islam if all a person knew about them was what he sees in the media that reports the violent actions and events that involves Muslims.
    The western polemic concerning Islam certainly does nothing to assuage fears about acts of murder and mayhem committed by those proclaiming that they are defending Islam, yet are killing other Muslims as they attempt to worship Allah in their mosques and on their way on pilgrimage.
    The Qur’an is quite clear;
    “If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (forever): and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.”
    (Al Nisa Surah 4:93)
    When non-Muslims see these crimes, some may see this as a form of insanity. One might question why there is such chaos in Egypt and Libya since the fall of their tyrants? Why don’t Muslims follow the guidance established by Muhammad about the relationship of government and Islam?
    Certainly if people are willing to actually study the religion of Islam, many will look for the redeeming qualities contained within the doctrines. No religion can justify “divinely anointed violence” and be expected to be embraced by a civilized society.

  2. Nice thought provoking blog.
    There should be more courses on Islam in every college and schools.

    These days with the internet being a part of life for many people, it’s easy to pass around rumors.
    Last year over 40 Million US Dollars were spent by groups attached to Pamella Geller and many others.
    With elections to be conducted by the end of this year, Republican candidates are showing America how to bash Islam. And the media bashes Islam too.

    Islam has been under Christian attack for over 1400 yrs, and even 14 Crusades did not halt its progress.
    President Thomas Jefferson wrote this about persecution:

    “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned: yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.” Well hell, nothing that a few million more dead people won’t cure! I mean it’s worked so well in the past, right

    I leave you with this message.